What’s Up with Window Condensation?

What's Up With Window Condensation


Foggy windows…we have all experienced them at one point or another. Whether in the car or at home, this is a relatively common phenomenon. Sure, it’s a temperature and moisture difference between the air on each side of the glass, but is it a problem? Is there any way to get this minor annoyance from blocking your view at home?

Just because condensation is a common event doesn’t mean that it’s welcomed. Let’s take a look at some of the specifics as to exactly what is happening when condensation forms on home windows, what it means for maintenance, and what you can do to eliminate it from your space.


It’s Outdoors in Summer, Indoors in Winter

Usually, when you see condensation on windows during summer, it’s on the outside of the windowpane. That’s because condensation tends to form in the warmer environment that has higher humidity. Think about Southern summers – it gets downright muggy here. Ever have that feeling like you’re walking into a Jacuzzi when you take that first morning step outside in July? Well, inside your home your air conditioner is working hard and creating a less humid environment. When the warm moist air from outside hits the cold windowpane, the moisture in the air condenses on the glass. This condensation usually goes away as soon as the sun hits it and the air becomes warm enough to allow the moisture to evaporate.

In winter, the opposite happens. The cool air from outside hits the warm windowpane, causing condensation on the indoor side of the window if there is enough moisture in your home. This type of condensation can stick around longer if there is no air movement to allow for the moisture to escape.


Winter Condensation Can Cause Damage

If the condensation is staying on your windows for extended periods of time, the moisture will gather into larger droplets and run down the windowpane. This can cause moisture to build up on your windowsill or in cracks around your window. As we’ve covered on our blog a few times, excess moisture can cause some serious problems. It creates a home for mold and mildew, plus it aids in the rot of surfaces such as wood.

When condensation starts to appear indoors, you need to do something about it. Otherwise, you could end up with repair costs on your hands.


Use Your Exhaust Fans

The best way to prevent condensation is to keep extra moisture out of your home, and one way to do that is by using your exhaust fans. Because of modern construction methods, it can be easy for excess moisture to build up in your home, especially during winter months when windows and doors stay shut most of the time. With a sealed home, all that moisture sent into the air from family members taking showers and from cooking can build up with nowhere to go. Given the opportunity, it will condense on windows, leaving a little pool for you to clean up later.

Exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen vent that extra moisture outside. Be sure to use these fans every time you shower or whenever you are cooking. This will help to reduce the humidity in your home and keep those windows condensation-free.


Better Air Flow Can Help

Even with exhaust fans, sometimes the air throughout the house can fill with moisture and become “stuck” indoors. In this case, better airflow is needed to help circulate the air throughout the home and possibly find a place to escape. Regular fans can help with this. Ceiling fans are great not only for contributing to air circulation but also for helping to distribute warm or cold air from your HVAC system.

Once the air is flowing, consider adding additional assistance to removing moisture by opening a few windows and doors. This won’t be possible every day during winter, but take advantage when you have the days that are comfortable enough to let in some fresh air. This also helps to rid your home of any pollutants that have built up in a sealed home.


Heavy Curtains Won’t Help

It is a common misconception that a window with condensation issues needs to be covered. This won’t prevent the problem and can make it worse in some cases. Heavy curtains and similar window treatments just trap moisture around the window and never give it a chance to dissipate into the air. Not only that, but moisture that could be sitting on the windowsill may now have an opportunity to absorb into fabric…a favorite habitat for mold and mildew to grow.

Instead, focus on window treatments that can allow the glass to breathe a little, such as blinds. The cracks in between the individual blind blades allow for airflow and lessen the chance of moisture becoming trapped.


Invest in a Dehumidifier

If you have tried the above tricks to reduce or eliminate condensation on your windows, it might be time to invest in a dehumidifier. These devices are relatively inexpensive and can help to rid your space of unwanted moisture. Place the dehumidifier near the windows that are giving you the most trouble. The chances are that condensation will stop forming, leaving your windowsill dry and free from rot.


For Outdoor Condensation, Try This Trick…

If you have an outside window that is prone to gathering condensation during the summer months, try this easy trick: apply Rain-X. This product was originally intended for use on car windshields to help water slide away, improving visibility for the driver. Industrious homeowners, however, have found a few other uses for it, including keeping windows (and glass shower doors) free from condensation. We can’t promise that it will work, but it’s certainly worth a try!