It’s a familiar situation. One morning you walk into the kitchen for your coffee and notice your windows or patio door looks a little foggy. Some days – and especially overnight – the fogginess goes away, but it always comes back and becomes more pronounced over time. It’s window condensation – a potential precursor to larger problems, like damaged window panes, rotting wood, insulation problems, mildew, & mold.
What is Condensation?
One of the most common misconceptions about condensation is that the problem lies with the surface the water appears on – usually a window or wall. But in reality, it’s the moisture in the air.
Simply put, condensation occurs as water vapour turns into liquid water.
As the air warms, it expands and can hold onto more moisture. Then, as it cools again, it contracts. Once that cooling, humid air reaches its “cooling saturation point” – when it can no longer hold any more wetness – the excess moisture becomes liquid.
You often see condensation when the temperature outside drops quickly, creating a significant difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures. It’s the most common in early fall, when temperatures are warm during the daytime, but can turn chilly by evening. As the temperature drops outside, the moisture captured by a home’s structures over the summer becomes trapped. This leads to higher humidity levels inside the house – and a more substantial likelihood of your windows “sweating.”
Why is Window Condensation a Problem?
Window condensation can be a sign of other issues in the home, like poor ventilation, indoor air quality and excess humidity. It may be worth looking into how you can improve these issues within your home for a more comfortable living experience.
There are two types of window condensation:
- Surface condensation that forms on the side within your home
- Internal condensation that forms in between your double or triple-paned windows
If you have windows that are particularly susceptible to mild condensation, it’s essential to open them up and allow air in to help reduce the circulating moisture indoors. Even highly insulated, energy-efficient triple pane windows will still experience some condensation activity. Ultimately, surface condensation will form if the air within a house is significantly warmer than the windowpane it meets.
Ignored, this type of condensation can cause mold and mildew to form in the surrounding area, on the frame, jamb or walls near your windows. It usually takes the appearance of dark spots, but take a closer look around any problem windows – mold and mildew can also be a lighter gray or brown, which blends in and is sometimes difficult to see. Hiding in plain sight, these spots are unpleasant to look at, emit a musty odour and can decrease the value of your home if not properly treated. Long-term exposure to mold can also cause health issues, particularly respiratory-related problems.
If you’re seeing condensation form between your double or triple pane windows, it’s a more serious problem. It suggests that the window seal has failed, allowing moisture and air into what should be an airtight, insulated space. Because there’s no easy way to vent the space between the panes, the window may need to be repaired or replaced altogether.
Ignoring a window with a failed seal can also lead to mold and mildew problems. It can also dramatically reduce your home’s energy efficiency – the compromised seal can let heat out in the winter and cool air out in the summer.
How to Remove Black Mold on Windows
The good news is, mold is relatively simple to treat on your own. On non-porous surfaces like glass or plastic, you can remove mold with a homemade bleach solution.
Prepare the solution by mixing equal parts bleach and warm water in a spray bottle or bucket. We suggest using gloves and a mask to avoid touching or breathing in the mold spores. Bleach can also irritate the eyes and skin, so consider these items a must!
- To start, dip a brush or rag into the solution, or spray directly onto the moldy areas.
- Leave the bleach solution on for a few minutes so it can penetrate the area
- Scrub with your brush or rag before wiping clean.
Once you’re done, open up the windows. The fresh air will help dry out the remaining moisture and air out any lingering bleach fumes.
Because they’re more porous, removing mold from wood frames and the surrounding drywall might be a trickier undertaking. The bleach solution could work for mild cases of mold on the walls. In some cases, wood can be sanded down to remove the mold entirely.
Contact a professional to evaluate the best course of action for your situation. For example, it may be necessary to replace your current windows for a severe case of mold.
Remember, prevention is ideal. So here’s how to prevent mold from growing in the first place.
4 Ways to Control Condensation to Extend the Life of Your Windows and Preventing Water Damage in Window Frames
- Open Your Windows a Little: Sure, this is as easy a solution as you’ll find – and it may add a bit to your heating costs – but it is by far the cheapest method for dealing with moisture levels in your home. Let a little fresh air in!
- Adjust Your Window Accessories: Curtains, blinds, and valances shouldn’t be too close to your windows, because they can impede natural airflow over the window’s surface. Any restriction of the air circulation will reduce the condensation resistance and increase sweating on the window’s surface. Make sure to leave your window coverings in the “open” position when you’re not using them.
- Move Your Heat Sources: During heating season, even energy-efficient windows will lose more heat through them than the heat lost through any wall. This is why windows with a heat source below them are less likely to sweat. Consider relocating any portable heating sources in your home to help prevent condensation.
- Controlling Relative Humidity: Many living habits create humidity inside your home – like showers and baths, cooking, laundry, even houseplants! If the moisture in your home isn’t controlled, it can become excessive, especially during the winter months. This creates the potential for damaging condensation. An easy solution to control humidity in your home? Dehumidifiers and exhaust fans work wonderfully to help maintain the humidity levels throughout your home.
Controlling the condensation in your home will help prolong the life of your windows!
If you’re considering replacing your windows due to mold growth or just because it’s time for a home improvement, speak to us at Torwin. Our knowledgeable reps can help you choose windows that fit your lifestyle and home and give you tips on maintaining your investment by preventing mold and mildew growth.
Learn more about the process of replacing your windows and doors here!