Why Your Windows Fog Up In Winter And What You Can Do About It

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If you miss the view from your living room window because your windows have a permanent layer of condensation during the cold weather months, you'll be looking for a solution. Fortunately, you don't have to live in a perpetual steam house; there are some things you can do to reduce the formation of condensation on your windows.

Why do windows get foggy in winter?

Usually, windows fog up because your house is too well built. Yes, that is correct. Modern building techniques can create a space that is simply too weather tight. This is great for your heating bills but not so great for your windows and for the moisture levels in your home. Day-to-day life generates moisture, which normally escapes as vapor through vents and cracks in the home. When the house is too tight, the vapor is able to collect on the cool surfaces of your glass windows. You'll notice that the condensation might be worse when you are baking, cooking, doing laundry, taking a shower, or running the dishwasher. 

What can you do to prevent foggy windows?

So, if your house is too "tight", what should you do to help the water escape your home? There are a few things you can do, and it is important that you do them, because the build-up of moisture in the home can lead to mold growth and can even rot your window frames if they are made from wood. 

  1. Vent everything. Fog gets worse when your home is not vented properly. Have professionals come in to make sure that your dryer vents to the outside. Also, be sure to install a fume hood over your stove, not just a fan mounted beneath the cabinet. Fume hoods direct the steam from cooking outside to help reduce moisture accumulation indoors. Roofs should also be vented to the outside-- this is the main way the house releases moist air. Have a roofing company check the current ventilation in your attic space.
  2. Turn up the heat. It might pain you to turn up the thermostat when you are trying to save money on utilities, but a few extra degrees will help control the moisture levels in your home. The warmer indoor temperature will make the surface of your windows warmer, making it more difficult for water vapor to condense back into a liquid.
  3. Use a dehumidifier, especially in summer. You might wonder what summer air has to do with winter condensation. During humid summer months, the surfaces in your home can absorb slight amounts of moisture. When drier winter weather sets in, this moisture is released as the surfaces contract in the cooler climate. The water then forms on your windows, especially because the air inside your home is wetter than the air outside.
  4. Run your bathroom fan as much as possible or keep the bathroom window cracked. Bathrooms are one of the major sources of indoor humidity. Bathrooms should be vented. Never take a shower or run water in the bathroom without first opening a window or turning the fan on.
  5. Replace single pane windows with double-paned, energy efficient windows. Single pane windows will get colder as they are more exposed to outside air. Replacement windows should help to keep the inside glass from becoming so cold that water always condenses on it. 
  6. Keep houseplants in one room, preferably with a window cracked. Plants produce water vapor. They are great for indoor air quality but can contribute to humidity levels. Keeping them in one room will help to reduce the amount of vapor that is distributed all over the house. If possible, get annual plants that die when winter comes. Then, you can purchase new plants when spring comes to avoid any plant-induced moisture.

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23 December 2015

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