Moisture is present in all homes, but when it becomes excessive, homeowners need to take an active role in managing humidity levels. Read the information below for details, or click on the video for answers to common questions about condensation.
HUMIDITY AND CONDENSATION
Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air.
Condensation is water that forms when warm, moist air hits a cooler surface. In homes, it might occur on surfaces such as windows, mirrors, bathroom walls and cold-water pipes.
When interior humidity levels are high, relative to cooler outdoor temperatures, condensation can form on the coldest surface in a room — often the glass in a window or door. While windows and doors do not cause condensation, they may be one of the first places it shows up.
WHAT CAUSES CONDENSATION?
Excess humidity is typically the cause of condensation. There are many sources for moisture in a home: showers, dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, house plants, humans and pets, among others. In newly built homes, additional moisture may escape from building materials such as lumber, plaster and masonry for up to three heating seasons, even with proper airflow and temperature management.
OLDER VS. NEWER HOMES
Condensation may be less of an issue in older homes if conditions allow for more air exchange between indoors and out, often from around aging, loose or poorly installed windows and doors. However, the tradeoff is higher energy bills. When replacement windows are properly installed and the airflow around the window decreases, condensation may form on the glass of the new windows.
Newer homes, on the other hand, are more airtight and energy-efficient. Many have vapor barriers — plastic within the wall cavity blocking moisture passage in either direction. With tighter-fitting doors and windows, vapor barriers and increased insulation, energy costs are lower — but humidity levels must be monitored more closely.
No matter when your home was built, the key is to strike the right balance when it comes to humidity levels. Air that’s too dry can cause furniture to dry out and crack, joints and studs to shrink and twist, and paint and plaster to crack. Excessive moisture in the home can cause paint to peel and insulation to deteriorate, and condensation on windows and doors can damage sills and trim.
MEASURING AND CONTROLLING HUMIDITY
To determine how much humidity is present in your home, you can purchase a humidity gauge from a hardware store or home center. Invest in a quality unit for greater potential accuracy in assessing humidity levels, or consult an expert. Another way to monitor the interior humidity level is to watch your windows. When interior condensation begins to form, wipe it off. To reduce the humidity, open windows, run exhaust fans or dehumidifiers, or minimize sources of moisture.To determine how much humidity is present in your home, you can purchase a humidity gauge from a hardware store or home center. Invest in a quality unit for greater potential accuracy in assessing humidity levels, or consult an expert. Another way to monitor the interior humidity level is to watch your windows. When interior condensation begins to form, wipe it off. To reduce the humidity, open windows, run exhaust fans or dehumidifiers, or minimize sources of moisture.
WHAT IF I HAVE COLD-WEATHER, BETWEEN-THE-GLASS CONDENSATION
ON DESIGNER SERIES® WINDOWS AND DOORS?
Many of the same conditions that can cause roomside condensation can cause between-the-glass condensation on Designer Series windows and doors. Check the following things to improve this condition:
- Make sure the hinged glass panel shipping spacers have been removed.
- Make sure the hinged glass panel is fully latched. To verify, push hinged panel at each latch point. See related article Opening the Hinged Glass Panel.
WHAT IF I HAVE WARM-WEATHER, BETWEEN-THE-GLASS CONDENSATION
ON DESIGNER SERIES WINDOWS AND DOORS?
Condensation may occur between the glass on Designer Series windows and patio doors if the inside air is very cool from air conditioning and the humidity outside is extremely high.
To improve this, make sure there are no air vents blowing directly on the window or door, or raise the indoor temperature slightly.
Exterior condensation on windows occurs primarily in the morning when days are warm and humid, but nights are cool. Typically, it clears as the day warms. Exterior condensation can occur at any time, especially in warm, humid climates where interior temperatures are cooler than outdoor conditions. Exterior condensation means that windows are doing their job properly. However, if you spot excessive condensation on the inside of your windows, check your inside humidity — it may be a signal of potential problems if not addressed.
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