When it comes to your home, you need a partner you can trust to ensure your insulation and ventilation is working properly. AMEK Exteriors in Minneapolis has decades of experience implementing insulation and ventilation. Due to our years of experience, we have become Minneapolis-based exterior system integration specialists. Our building health services can help you prevent ice dams, frost on the bottom of sheeting, premature shingle deterioration, and wasted energy use. We can help you control ventilation, vapor transmission, and air leakage – partnering with you to keep your home warm and safe while preventing any future damage.
Condensation or fogging on your home’s windows can be worrisome. Winter is a common trigger, but this window condensation issue can happen year-round. Understanding the mechanics of your home and windows can help eliminate or reduce the possible damage caused by chronic condensation.
Window Condensation Causes
There are a variety of factors that can cause condensation and foggy windows.
Ventilation & Airflow
“Homeowners often don’t realize how important ventilation and airflow are in a home.” ~ Paul Schmidt
“Homeowners often don’t realize how important ventilation and airflow are in a home,” said AMEK Exteriors co-owner Paul Schmidt. Ventilation throughout the home including the attic and basement are critical to the home’s “well being”. In addition, double-pane and triple-pane windows can minimize condensation issues, but they can still happen because it’s usually not the window itself causing the problem.
It mostly comes down to moisture levels and air movement. Keeping the balance between air temperature and humidity levels can be challenging. You might see signs that adjustments (throughout the year) need to be made if you are starting to see condensation form on the windows.
Air Temperature Differences
Colder air generally can’t hold as much moisture. Extreme temperature differences can set up a greenhouse effect – below zero temperatures outside with temperatures 70 degrees or warmer on the inside. The air next to the window glass cools down causing it to form water droplets. This is known as the dew point.
Sometimes, condensation is short-term like when the seasons change and you close up the house and turn on the furnace or air conditioner. A new home or one that has had extensive remodeling can have extra moisture as the building materials like concrete, carpet, sheetrock and wood dry out.
Window Rot – Hidden Damage
Condensation that happens regularly and for a lengthy period of time can deteriorate window frames and can cause major rotting around windows and doors which can lead to widespread development of mold and related health impacts plus compromised structural integrity from rotted wood.
“We’ve seen an increase in moisture issues caused by improper installation of windows and improper design of ventilation systems.” ~ Paul Schmidt
“We’ve seen an increase in moisture issues caused by improper installation of windows and improper design of ventilation systems,” said Paul who specializes in fixing construction defects. “Condensation on your windows might just be your first visible warning sign something isn’t right.”
Common remediation repairs can involve removing windows and examining them to see if they can be reused or if new windows are required. In addition, the surrounding wall framing may need to be replaced if it’s rotted. The critical component is using the correct installation techniques when putting the window and wall back together to prevent future issues.
Window Condensation Issues in New Homes
Occasionally, you may experience condensation on windows in your new home. Not to worry. This can be a common problem and caused by:
- Airtight energy efficiency
- No or uncalibrated ventilation system
- Change of seasons
- New products drying out
Because newer homes are becoming more airtight and energy efficient, there is less airflow through gaps like there used to be. To give your home “an adjustment”, opening a door or window for 15 to 20 minutes occasionally can help equalize the moisture levels and provide some needed fresh air providing the relative humidity outside is less than the relative humidity inside.
“On new homes, it’s really important to integrate a ventilation system into the home’s building envelope.” ~ Paul Schmidt
“On new homes, it’s really important to integrate a ventilation system into the home’s building envelope, so we install a heat recovery ventilator or a energy recovery ventilator to make sure there is a regular exchange of fresh air and prevent excessive moisture issues like window condensation,” Paul says.
When It’s Time To Replace Your Windows
Another problem can occur when window seals have failed and the condensation is happening between the window panes. This fogging can happen if the windows are old and need to be replaced or if the windows were improperly made or installed. This problem isn’t as detrimental as condensation issues. Windows with this issue may not be as effective and look unsightly. Check to see if the window’s warranty has expired to see if you can get it fixed or replaced. If under warranty, the manufacturer will provide the glass for free, but you have to pay a professional to install it or do it on your own.
Reducing Window Condensation At Home
So what are some situations and how can they be altered to be balanced out to reduce window condensation?
Perhaps, the humidifier is set too high for the capacity of what the air can hold based on the temperature, so try reducing the humidifier setting and see if that helps.
Closed blinds or curtains
Closing curtains or blinds can also disrupt the airflow to the windows causing condensation – leaving a larger gap at the bottom or side of the curtain or blind is all it takes to clear up the problem.
Extra guests taking showers
Having extra people in the house taking showers or doing laundry can be enough to change the humidity level in the house especially in the winter when windows would be closed not allowing some moisture to escape. Turn on the bathroom fan or leave a window open afterward for a couple minutes.
Same goes with doing additional cooking without the exhaust fan going.
If trying these tactics to clear condensation doesn’t work, It may be time to call the professionals. Contact AMEK Exteriors for further help in identifying causes and solutions to your window condensation challenges.
Overview: Initially, performed destructive testing in St. Paul to assist engineers. Did an estimate for the scope of repairs for the litigation case. Hired to do remediation work.
Original Built Date: 2006
General Description: Five-story mixed-use retail and condominium space in St. Paul along a light-rail corridor.
Initial Analysis: Water damage around windows, doorways, and decks on all sides of the building. Trapped moisture also found in areas designed for ventilation. Litigation based on construction defects caused by improper architectural design and installation.
Scope: Determine extent of damage and propose remediation process and cost.
Remediation Scope: Removed brick work and siding around window and door openings and inspected for rot damage, which was extensive in some areas. Reinstalled current windows or installed new windows/doors. Reflashed correctly, reinsulated wall cavities, and redid brickwork and siding on more than 80 openings. Sealed and insulated areas to separate cold and warm areas to prevent more ventilation problems. Removed decking and roofing material for patio areas to assess and repair as needed.
Challenges & Solutions: Intense proactive communication between association board, management company, tenants and residents due to the required access to interior spaces. Managed a sliding schedule required our team to shift as needed to keep the project moving forward. In-depth repairs required our team to be highly versatile and experienced. Determining priorities and developing cost-effective, long-term solutions for remediation work were based on a holistic approach. Analysis of decking material replacement options generated the benefit of cooler materials making the decks more usable on hot days.
Additional Project Notes: Flexible with financial aspects to allow association to undertake such a giant project outside the insurance coverage. Outlined to homeowner association future maintenance and relating schedule needed to maintain a healthy building
Completion Date: 2016
Door and frames were damaged by moisture causing peeling painting and wood rot. Replaced with metal doors and frames which were properly integrated into the water management system to prevent future problems.
Improperly integrated vapor barriers caused rot below the windows and doors. Decking areas were all damaged from moisture. Action plan: Remove the deck, flat roof and all components down to the floor trusses. Remediation plan: Add spray foam to ceiling below to stop the vapor transmission coming from the warm side of the home. We then added blown insulation to fill the remaining space in the truss cavity. Next, installed new gray-colored TPO roofing system to replace the black EPDM. The gray reduced the sun absorption to allow more enjoyable use of the rooftop patios. Another failure was the original deck patios were attached in approximately 46 places penetrating the roofing membrane for each patio deck causing framing members under the roofing to deteriorate. Created a new solution only involving 6 points of penetration which were each completely sealed to avoid water intrusion.
When the building was constructed, the windows were not installed correctly for a water management system. This failure allowed water to get behind the weather resistive barrier (WRB) causing rot. Remediation plan: Remove bricks around the perimeter of windows, remove windows from their opening, reinstall window property tying it into the water management system and into the WRB of the brick, and then installed new brick around the windows.
Overview: For this 1925 south Minneapolis stucco home, a poorly integrated second-story addition done in 1980 resulted in major deterioration and mold inside the walls. Primary contributors were trapped water from seepage around windows and trapped moisture from poor ventilation systems.
Moisture testing indicated the damage was extensive and throughout the structure. Our remedial construction services worked with our client to establish the areas which would require careful repairs to ensure the home’s structural integrity. After the removal and repair of rotted sections, new sheathing and windows were installed followed by new insulation and exterior cladding.
An important part of project for the new homeowners was redesigning the appearance to blend into the neighborhood. Rounded corners were transformed into modern straight lines, windows were enlarged to create more balance and were framed in black to add depth, and cedar wood was included to give warmth and texture. Appreciating the draw of an established neighborhood and the home’s floor plan, the family can now also enjoy living in a healthy and beautiful home along Minnehaha Creek.
Original Built Date: 1925
General Description: Two-story stucco single-family home
Initial Analysis: Construction defect caused by a second-story addition that was put on in the 1980s. Water seeped in around windows and other connection points trapping moisture within the walls causing extensive rot. Additional damage occurred from an unbalanced ventilation system to manage building humidity.
Scope: Following moisture tests, we determined the extent of damage, proposed our construction remediation process and provided an estimate of cost to see if potential homeowner wanted to purchase home and proceed with project.
Remediation Plan: Removed stucco, eliminated rotted areas, reconstructed damaged portions, reinsulated, installed new windows, reclad with James Hardie and cedar siding, and integrated windows and siding correctly to prevent future water intrusion.
Challenges & Solutions: Generating a sound plan to negotiate the sale of the house to adjust for the required remediation work. Once work began, we discovered the extent of deterioration was more substantial than the original testing indicated. We were able to rebuild structural wall components to reestablish home’s integrity.In the end, we formulated a fresh modern design that enhanced the facade in an established wooded neighborhood.
Additional Project Notes: Our project scope included enlarged windows which were selected with black framing to create dimension and balance plus add more interior light. The main doorway was enhanced using color, natural wood and lighting to avoid previous confusion of what door guests should go to enter the home. The rounded radials were removed and rebuilt to continue the new angular design. The chimney was re-framed to match the straight lines used throughout the project.
Notable Project Partners: Randall Buffie Architect
Completion Date: July 2015
NARI National – 2016 Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award
NARI Regional – 2016 Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award
NARI-MN – 2015 Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award