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Have you noticed that you have wet windows?

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It’s that time of the year again when houses across Canada start to develop the telltale outline of condensation around the interior surfaces of window panes on cold mornings. It’s a sure sign that winter is coming, and more and more Canadian homes are showing damaging levels of wet windows each year.

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What Causes Window Sweat?

The physics of window sweat are simple. In the winter, the inside surfaces of even good quality windows are likely the coldest surfaces in your home. The air inside your home will naturally form a convection current cycle against these cold surfaces. Cooled air sinks, warm air replaces it.

As warm, moist air comes into contact with the colder interior glass surface, the air drops below dewpoint, depositing moisture on the glass.

As the convection current continues over time, more and more moisture is deposited on the glass until your window sills become a sweaty mess.

Think back to a cold drink you enjoyed this past summer and the condensation that formed on the outside of the glass or can. That same dynamic is what makes the inside of your windows wet during cold winter weather.

The window pane is like the drinking glass, and the air inside your house is like summer’s hot, humid air. Cooking, showering and breathing all release many litres of water into the air each day. Solving the window condensation problem involves removing part of this humidity; though don’t make the mistake of thinking that a dehumidifier can do the job.

Although the air inside your home may hold enough moisture to condense when it hits cold wintertime glass, the air outside your house will become dry when it enters your house and warms up. This is why leaky, older homes never have window condensation problems, and it’s why increasing the ventilation in your house that will dry your windows.

Don’t depend on dehumidifiers

Dehumidifiers are physically incapable of lowering indoor humidity levels enough to stop window condensation, but simply opening a few windows here and there can do the job. Running exhaust fans will help even more, since this draws more dry outdoor air into the house through nooks and crannies. Trouble is, opening windows and running exhaust fans also wastes a lot of hard-earned heat, too.

Window Sweat: The Air Quality Story

Excessive moisture forming on interior window glass may be pointing to an issue with the ventilation of your home.

In fact, most homes with relatively modern window assemblies that are showing interior window condensation in the winter have more of an issue with the air quality in the home than the quality of the windows.

More and more, homes are being built using tighter, more efficient construction techniques. A tighter building envelope is great news when it comes to energy efficiency, but only if indoor air quality can be maintained through adequate ventilation.

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Heat recovery ventilation invention

Canada was one of the first nations to begin building homes tight enough to cause window condensation back in the 1970s, and it wasn’t long before solving the problem of window condensation was something we needed to pioneer, too. This is why the heat recovery ventilator (HRV) was invented, and it’s becoming more and more important as more homes than ever are tight enough to foster window condensation.

HRVs are ventilation appliances that exchange outdoor and indoor air while recovering a majority of the energy invested in heating. HRVs work this magic by directing a stream of indoor air through thin-walled passages on its way outside. These channels are immediately adjacent to neighbouring channels where outdoor air is flowing into your house in the opposite direction.

Thermal energy is exchanged through thin channel walls, without allowing the two air streams to physically mix. The condensation that normally happens on your windows now happens inside the HRV before trickling away harmlessly through a tube connected to a household drain.

Getting an HRV installed in your home costs about $2,000, so it’s a pretty hefty investment. That said, severely wet windows are more than just annoying sources of mould and mildew. They also indicate that the air quality in your house isn’t what it should be. In the same way that moisture is being retained in the air because of insufficient ventilation, so are indoor contaminants and pollutants. An HRV is as much about breathing healthier as it is about eliminating the need to dry windows with towels.

Three things you can be sure of: HRVs are legitimate, they give a tremendous boost to indoor air quality, and we’ve never seen a case of wet winter windows that an HRV didn’t cure.

After installing a Heat Recovery Ventilator, a years-long issue with sweating windows in two upstairs bedrooms and a bath vanished within a day of turning on the system.

If you are looking for a Realtor to assist you with your real estate needs, give us a call, our team approach is the 'stonehenge of home selling'.  Our mission is to transform lives and create unforgettable client experiences through the business of real estate.

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Jackie Carron Home Selling Team
Keller Williams Neighbourhood Realty Inc. Brokerage
2968 Dundas St W, Suite 303
Toronto, Ontario
M6P 1Y8

Phone: 416-712-8840

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