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Old 12-15-2008, 09:59 AM   #1
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Help! My windows seem to have an inordinant amount of condensation on the inside of the window. I live in chilly Minnesota. Condesnsation is forming in the corners and in some instance over half of the window on my maina nd second floor windows (all of them). I have tried turning up the temparature, turning on fans and now window film, but nothing seems to be working. Please review my attached pictures of the windows and my common inside house readings (temp, humidity) and let me know if you have any other suggestions. I am looking at refinishing and re-sealing the windows this summer and hopefully that will help. I did put some of that putty stuff around the edges of some of the windwos as you can see in the pictures, and that did nothing so I stopped.
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Old 12-15-2008, 11:01 AM   #2
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Pretty hard to stop with single pane glass, which it appears that you have.

It works just like a soda can on a humid day. The outdoor air would be the equivalent of the cold soda, your window is the can. When the warm humid air inside the house touches the cold glass, your air's moisture condenses on the inside. It is simple science and there's not much of anything that can be done about it.

This is a major reason that double pane windows with inert gases between them are now the industry standard.

I'd suggest keeping a good coat of paint on the interior side just to protect the wood from the water accumulation as best as possible.

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Old 12-15-2008, 12:48 PM   #3
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


I went through this as winter started this year and with brand new double pane low E Marvin windows. Even on these high standard windows we were getting condensation but because our indoor humidity was way too high. We had single pane with storm windows previously. There are a few things you can do to help this.

My home had humidity in the 60% region so by simply lowering our humidity the condensation on the windows jsut about went away. Some condensation is going to be normal if it gets really cold out. Ive researched normal indoor humidity levels and Marvin sent me info on it also and the a healthy range can be from 30 - 50 %. So you have some room to go down even further. Anything below 30% becomes unhealthy as certain viruses can proliferate. By lowering indoor humidity you then lower the dew point and may decrease your condensation.

You can also try using plastic shrink film that you can purchase in hardware stores that help to form an air barrier against the window kinda like a storm window works. this plastic will be mounted by double sided tape and a hair dryer can be used to shrink it tight.

To help achieve a lower humidity we also raised our indoor temperature from 66 to 68 deg F. Warmer air holds more moisture pur cubic foot than does colder air and this will help to lower your indoor humidity more. Plus it may raise the glass surface temperature therfore lowering the dew point.

But unfortunenatly for you like KCT stated double pane windows are the way to go these days. We made the switch and the difference is amazing. the house holds heat much better. With single pane glass there isnt much insulation there so the glass gets really cold and when the warm air touches it, blammo, condensation.

Last edited by creamaster; 12-15-2008 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:54 AM   #4
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Lower the indoor humidity and make sure there is nothing blocking air circulation around the windows (like curtains or blinds).
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Old 12-16-2008, 03:12 PM   #5
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


These look like older (Pella/Andersen) regular insulated glass. What sort of heat do you have? How close to the windows were the readings made? How cold outside is it there? I'm guessing low teens/ single digits.
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:37 PM   #6
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


livinginthepark:
All the answers so far have the right idea.
It is hard to tell if you have single or double pane windows from your photos. But if you have only single pane, there is realistically nothing you can do. With properly installed double or triple pane windows, you should expect to eliminate - or at least seriously reduce - all that condensation.
It is simply a matter of the temperature on the outside of the glass compared to the inside of the glass.
If you have only single glazing, there will effectively be no difference in the glass temperature inside or out. Put your hand on the glass. Is it freezing cold? Do you get ice sometimes forming at the bottom of the window?
The best solution is to install a modern double or triple pane window.
I lived 5 years up in the Yukon Territory, and from experience I can tell you it is worth doing whatever you have to to improve the R rating of your windows. Your comfort level will go up, and your heating bill will go down.
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:29 AM   #7
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Thanks for the responses. Here are some answers to some questions as well as some updated pictures. Since I posted a week ago it got relatively chilly (-5F) here in Minnesota and the frost on the inside of the windows got worse. Any additional suggestions would be great. Please review my answers to above listed questions:

Pane - These are double paned windows installed in 1990. Brand is Semco.
Temp - I raised the temp in the house a few degrees and it hasn't seemed to help much. I am now putting a fan on each window during the day to dry off and melt this condensation and rotating the fan between rooms. Quite annonying.
Shrink - We put shrink on one window to see how it would work and there is about the same amount of frost forming on the inside as well.
Heat Source - Gas furnace in basement
Temp/Humidity Reading - Taken about fifteen feet inside room and away from windows.

Any additional reccoendations for this winter and/or work that I should look at completing this summer?
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Old 12-18-2008, 11:49 AM   #8
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Storm Windows or new windows. That's the worst case of condensation I've ever seen.
I'd try an experiment and put a piece of plexiglass over the exterior of the worst window. Clean off all the frost and dry the window and see if the issue comes back. In another room, put a dehumidifier and clean and dry the window and see if the issue disappears and at what humidity level. You might need a hygrometer if the unit doesn't have actual humidity settings.
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:57 PM   #9
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Ron's suggestion would be worth a try. I am of the opinion that the seals on your windows have failed.
This would not be unusual on windows that are nearly two decades old! If you are able to follow Ron's suggestion, I would also say to add some 6 mil poly on the inside, tape it on just for the winter. It might not look great, but your windows are at the end of their useful life. And this would aid in getting you through the worst part of the year. You can buy some quite nice clear film made for the purpose. After application, you fan it with a hair dryer to make it nice and tight. What you are trying to do here is to create extra sealed air cavities, which will bump up your insulating values.
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Old 12-18-2008, 03:50 PM   #10
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Cocobolo is right, your windows are shot. I'd take a hard look at replacement of at least the worst ones as soon as possible. New sashes may be an option if the window frame isn't water damaged.
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Old 12-18-2008, 10:29 PM   #11
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OOOOHH!! Ain't that the truth! I wonder how old the house is? You may be just as well off, when time and funds permit, to replace everything to do with the windows. When the new ones are installed, the spray in foam will seal up every little nook and cranny leaving no place for air infiltration. I would think at this point, as kc says, the sooner the better.
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Old 12-18-2008, 10:37 PM   #12
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Many times condensation is caused by moisture in the wall cavities.
Two reasons for this.
You have moisture in your crawl space or basement walls or you don't have enough ventilation in your attic, or a combination of both.
We put vapor barriers (usually clear plastic sheeting) under slabs to prevent moisture from causing condensation on the floors.
If your basement floor wasn't poured on a moisture barrier or if there is no moisture barrier on your crawl space then moisture is coming up your walls and collecting on your windows.
Inadequate ventilation in your attic just compounds the problem because it blocks the moistures escape through your attic.
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Old 12-13-2010, 07:15 AM   #13
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I too have Semco widows. I am a builder and built my own house 3 years ago. I installed lo-E casement windows, aluminum clad, pine interior. I also get ice on below zero days and condensation is present whenever it is below freezing. What I did on some windows is to remove the screen, wrap plastic around it, and replace the screen. This acts as a storm window on the inside creating annother air space. I don't know if factory made storms are available, But I am going to build my own with wood frames and glass to see if that stops the moisture build-up. I tried running a dehummidifier and got the hummidity down to 38 %. and the condensation didn't go away. My window aren't argon filled but windows I installed in my parent's house last year are, and they aren't having any problems. We both have hydronic heat and burn wood in fireplaces for heat. I don't know if it's bad windows or if I would have the same problem with any window manufacturer. Good Luck.
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Old 12-13-2010, 10:35 PM   #14
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Condensation on Windows (PICS) - Advice Please


Something you might consider is how much moisture does your family induce by taking showers and cooking? Make sure all exhaust fans are working properly. It is unbelieavable how much moisture can be generated --even breathing but you can't do anything about that
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Old 12-17-2010, 04:23 PM   #15
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I know everyone says lower the humidity, but doesn't higher humidity during the winter help to make the house feel warmer as well as reducing static electricity? Isn't the problem more related with cold air infiltrating on the inside glass pane? Far from an expert here, it just seems that's more the logical problem than trying to get a bone dry house, assuming your windows aren't in need of replacing.

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