When windows have condensation

 I’m frequently asked why windows have condensation in them. Let’s take a look at why this happens, then what you can do to stop it from happening.

Why am I getting condensation on my windows?

Condensation happens for different reasons depending on what type of window you have. In a thermal pane window, you get condensation in between the glass panes because of a broken seal. But in an aluminum window, you get condensation on the frame when it’s cold outside and warm inside.

Broken seals in thermal pane windows

Usually broken seals in thermal pane windows are an expansion and contraction problem. Sometimes they just wear out over 20 or 30 years, but usually it’s expansion and contraction due to weather and varying temperatures.

In the winter, it’s cold outside and warm outside. Then in the summer, it’s the other way around. So over time, a particular window is always dealing with those variations in temperature.

Of course, that’s the whole purpose of a thermal pane window. While any window’s primary purpose is to provide a view, thermal pane windows are supposed to give you more insulation from outside than a normal window would.

They do that by having multiple pieces of glass held together by a seal around the edges. And when that fails, the moisture in the air is trapped in between the panes of glass. Then when it cools off, the moisture condensates.

It doesn’t damage anything when that happens, but it is less energy efficient and it blocks your view.

Condensation on aluminum windows

Condensation on aluminum windows is much simpler. Think about a canned beverage. The inside of the can is colder than the outside, so condensation happens on the outside of a can.

Similarly, aluminum windows will get condensation during the winter. The condensation will be on the frame, but not inside the glass. That’s what happens with aluminum.

In fact, when it’s really cold outside it will actually frost the inside of the frame overnight. Then when it starts to melt, there’s water.

How do I stop my windows from sweating in the winter?

In both cases, the solution is to replace whatever is causing the problem.

With double or triple pane windows, the solution is to take the glass out and replace it with glass that’s sealed. You don’t have to take out the frame in order to accomplish this repair.

With aluminum windows, you would basically need to switch to a vinyl window or a wood window to eliminate that problem. We usually recommend vinyl.

Generally, this is an out of pocket expense, not covered by insurance. It’s what we consider maintenance because it’s a normal wear and tear item.

I will warn you that if you’re selling your house, the home inspector will likely require you to get it taken care of if you have a broken seal. The window isn’t functioning the way it was designed. Again, it’s supposed to provide a view while giving you some additional insulation from the outside.

So, if your window isn’t fulfilling its purpose, it’s time to get it replaced. We would be happy to talk with you and see if we can help.

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