Understanding and Managing Condensation on Your Windows

There are a few issues related to your windows that aren’t necessarily hugely risky, but can be annoying to deal with in some cases. One great example: Condensation, which can form on either the inside or the outside of windows — in some cases, it can become significant enough that it blurs your views in or out of the window, or creates certain other minor concerns.

At Rocky Mountain Windows & Doors, we’re proud to serve as your comprehensive window specialists, assisting clients with everything from window replacement to many simple areas of window expertise. Why does condensation sometimes happen on both the inside and outside of windows, and what can you do to get rid of it if it’s becoming a concern for you? Here’s a simple rundown.

managing condensation windows

Basics on Condensation

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of condensation, it’s essentially a type of water that forms on surfaces — in the case of windows, this can be either indoor or outdoor windows. The biggest culprits are typically metal and glass, although many other materials can also suffer from condensation issues over time.

Condensation refers to water droplets collecting on a cold surface due to humid air that’s also making contact with that surface. It’s not necessarily a huge issue on its own, but it can lead to other problems — for example, if the droplets are collecting on the outside of your windows and freezing over, then this could easily become an area for ice buildup during particularly frigid temperatures.

Our next couple sections will look at how condensation happens for both the inside and outside of windows, plus will dig into how to reduce it during either major season of the year.

Why Condensation Happens Inside Windows

The more common form of condensation during the colder parts of the year is when water begins appearing on the insides of windows, and this is generally due to dry, cold air forming on the glass. Partially because of the dryness and low temperatures in the atmosphere at this time of year, any windows that are exposed to the outside — especially if they’re left slightly ajar so you can get some fresh air flowing through your home — will become susceptible to this form of condensation.

In addition, many indoor activities that we carry out regularly can increase the chances of this condensation. For instance, activities like bathing, cooking, and washing clothes can all release a significant amount of moisture into the air. Any windows that are in close proximity to bathrooms or other rooms where these activities take place will be at greater risk.

Why Condensation Happens Outside Windows

On the flip side, condensation that builds up on the outside of windows is more common during the summer months, where it’s hotter outside and outdoor temperatures tend to be quite humid. This can particularly become a problem if your windows are directly exposed to sunlight or other types of heat — again, this is especially true during the summer months, and it’s one reason why you may need to have air conditioning units installed in certain rooms of your home that have direct exposure to the sun.

This can be especially prominent if you’re the type who likes to keep your home especially cool during the summer, as the dryness of cold air can also lead to condensation buildup on the outside of your windows.

Reducing Winter Window Condensation (Interior Condensation)

Luckily, there are some basic ways you can go about reducing condensation on your windows this winter:

  • Run fans regularly: As mentioned previously, the cause of winter window condensation is low humidity in the air. Running fans regularly throughout your home — both those that are directed to different rooms and those that are placed near windows — can help introduce more moisture into the air so you can minimize condensation buildup.
  • Monitor ventilation: Another key way to prevent winter condensation from forming is to ensure you’re properly monitoring ventilation in your home. Make sure that your windows and doors are left slightly ajar periodically so air can circulate through your house more freely, thus preventing any cold air that’s coming inside your home from being trapped and allowing it to diffuse out of the conditioned areas.
  • Dehumidifier products: If you’re having consistent issues with condensation buildup, you may want to consider investing in a dehumidifier product specifically designed for use during the winter season. These items can be particularly effective at reducing humidity levels so that water droplets won’t form as readily on your windows, and they may even help to reduce the frequency of mold growth.

Reducing Summer Window Condensation (Exterior Condensation)

While it will be a few months until we’re back into the temperature ranges where these tips are in play, let’s also look at how to reduce condensation that’s more common in summer — that is, condensation that forms on the outside of windows. Some general recommendations:

  • Keep your home a bit warmer: As mentioned previously, the dryness of cold air can lead to condensation on the outside of your windows. Keeping your home at a slightly warmer temperature throughout the day can help prevent this from happening as strongly. For instance, if you normally keep your summer temperature at 66 degrees, try to move up to a more comfortable temperature of 70 degrees or even 72.
  • Monitor air conditioning: Furthermore, if you’re using your air conditioning unit regularly for the summer months, make sure that it’s running at optimal efficiency so that it isn’t releasing too much moisture into the outside environment. If possible, avoid using foil-backed insulation for any air ducts that aren’t specifically designed to keep heat and moisture from escaping — this can be particularly problematic if you’re noticing excess condensation on the outside of your windows, as it could exacerbate the problem.
  • Improve circulation near windows: Finally, for the reasons mentioned above, make sure that there’s proper circulation near your windows. Keep your blinds and curtains open a bit more so air can flow through these areas more easily, or install other types of ventilation units — such as fans or additional window screens — in order to help reduce any moisture buildup around your windows and prevent condensation.

For more on how to limit condensation on any windows in your home, or to learn about any of our window or door services, speak to our dedicated team at Rocky Mountain Windows & Doors today.