Condensation on Windows
Seeing condensation on your windows, especially if they’re newly installed can be concerning. And this issue leaves many customers with doubts as to whether or not they have received the quality installation that they were promised. Simply put, there is nothing wrong with your new windows. In fact, your new windows may even experience more condensation right after installation than your old ones did. This is OK, it is a very common occurrence.
But why does condensation happen? Its often helpful to understand exactly why this issue occurs.
Condensation occurs when moisture laden warm air comes in contact with a colder surface, such as your windows, and this meeting causes liquid to form. Condensation is the consequence of warm and cold air colliding. Regardless of the temperature, air is only able to hold so much moisture in vapour form. Dew point refers to the temperature in which this moisture become saturated. The warmer the air, the more moisture can be held. Cooler air is unable to hold onto the same amount of moisture. To simplify things, air at 20 degrees Celsius can hold almost 9times the amount of moisture that air at -10 degrees can hold. As the air within your living space begins to cool, the level of saturation rises causing this moisture to condense.
Though it might seem as though reducing your household temperature, or decreasing humidity will help to cut down on condensation, there are other factors to consider as well.
The placement of your windows, quality of installation, the type of windows installed, and even the window coverings being used can all contribute to the level of humidity within your home. Of course, the layout of your heat sources is also a factor.
The more energy efficient your window unit, the less likely it will be to collect condensation. This has to do with the type of window installed, and the type of glazing used as well. When you have your frames replaced, the result may be a rise in household humidity, especially during the winter months. This is generally due to the fact that your new windows no longer allow humidity out, and cooler air in. This may seem like an issue however, higher household humidity usually translates to an upgrade in household comfort. If the humidity level within your home increases to more than 40% your windows may experience condensation when outside temperatures drop below -20. This condensation will occur even on the most energy efficient window.
This condensation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though there is absolutely one type of condensation to look out for. Condensation that occurs inside your insulated window, can cause issues. If you can wipe the condensation off of the outside of your pane, you have little to worry about. If you can’t wipe the condensation off, its probably because it is occurring within the window itself.
This is an issue because insulated glass units, or ‘sealed units’ contain a gas fill. This gas aids in your household energy conservation, by helping to prevent heat loss through your windows. For these glass units to perform as expected, they must remain sealed as to not let any air in, or any gas out.
If condensation is able to form in between these panes of glass, you can basically guarantee a complete failure of the unit. If moisture is able to penetrate the sealed unit, you can be sure that the gas fill is also leaking out. Unfortunately, your window may look like a functioning unit even though there has been a complete failure. Because the issues are not always visible, you may begin to experience heat loss and be none the wiser.
Most window manufacturers in Canada will increase the resistance to condensation on the windows they produce. They do this by adding Low-E, or Low Emissivity coatings, and by adding insulating spacers to prevent the absorption of heat. These additions help to further prevent the development of condensation.
It is important to remember that it may take some time for your home to become used to the level of humidity experienced after a full frame window replacement. The condensation that occurs on the outside of your window pane should fade with time. If your windows experience condensation from time to time, especially during colder weather, there is no reason to be alarmed. Simply wipe it off, and it should remain a non-issue. That being said, if you should notice condensation forming between your window panes, it may be best to have a professional take a look.