Homeowners are an inquisitive bunch, at least in my experience. Maybe it’s because I’m an expert on window installation and repair, but they always seem to have plenty of questions for me. One of the most common things they ask me is about how they can tell when it’s time to replace their windows. I usually tell them that the only surefire way I know is to be able to predict the future. This is, of course, a joke. Nobody I know can do that and, if they could, they’d probably use their ability for other things besides window replacements.
There is, however, a next best thing: Homeowners should familiarize themselves with the common signs of window trouble so that they can make educated guesses about when they should be replaced. There are the super clear indicators, such as the age of the windows, if a window has been cracked and damage, or if the physical appearance of the windows has begun to look beat up and out of date. There are also, however, a set of more subtle signs that homeowners should be aware of, especially when it comes to double pane windows. That’s what I want to talk about today, with a focus on why double pane window condensation could be a serious sign of trouble.
For any and all homeowners, it’s important to know first and foremost what double pane windows are and how they can save you money, but, past that, it’s also vital to know what the signs are that they need to be replaced. Condensation, in my experience, is chief among these signs. Let’s discuss why it happens and what you should do if you notice it in your own home. By the time we’re done, I reckon your neighbors will be coming to you with questions!
How Do Double Pane Windows Work?
I’ve talked in the past about how double pane windows work, but it’s worth reiterating before we get into the nitty-gritty of why double pane window condensation is often a sign of trouble. As the name clearly indicates, double pane windows are made of two panes of glass, either tempered or laminated, held in a single frame.
Rather than sitting tightly against one another, the two panes are separated by a cavity created by spacers. That cavity is either sealed vacuum or filled with a non-toxic gas like argon. The size of this cavity depends on the window, but it typically ranges from a quarter to three-quarters of an inch thick.
Dual pane, double glazing, and insulating glass are also common names for double pane windows, so don’t be confused by these terms. All of them have the same construction of an insulating cavity sandwiched between two panes.
What Causes Double Pane Window Condensation
As I mention often, the Mediterranean climate in the Sacramento region means that we have hot and dry summers but wet and cool winters, during which there is often quite a bit of rain. With all that moisture in the air, we can sometimes have fog—especially in places like Yuba City—and other weather that causes condensation to form on windows.
When warm air hits a glass surface that is at or below the dew point, condensation starts.
There’s a reason condensation forms inside of windows when you live somewhere humid. See, the air in your house collects moisture and when the air temperature rises, condensation is inevitable. This temperature is known as the dew point. When warm air hits a glass surface that is at or below the dew point, condensation starts.
Just think about sitting outside on your patio with a cold glass of lemonade. You know how all that water starts running down the side of it? That’s because the glass is cold, but the air is hot. The same thing happens with your windows.
Why Double Pane Window Condensation Means Trouble
Here’s the bad news: Whether your windows are fogging, condensing, or pooling water between the panes, it’s all a sign of a failed product. Sometimes windows will dry out; sometimes they remain opaque or wet no matter how long you wait or how hot it gets outside. Either way, once a window starts to fog, even briefly, it’s starting to fail.
Double-paned windows are sealed to maximize insulation. If that seal breaks, cracks, or otherwise fails, moisture enters between the panes.
Double-paned windows are sealed to maximize insulation. If that seal breaks, cracks, or otherwise fails, moisture enters between the panes. Depending on the humidity and temperature outside, it may fog, pool, or collect at the bottom, or it may show up as condensation. Regardless, once that seal has been broken, most of the window’s ability to insulate is gone. This is especially true if your double-paned windows contained argon gas, like most double pane windows these days do.
…once that seal has been broken, most of the window’s ability to insulate is gone.
When to Contact a Professional About Double Pane Window Condensation
Simply put, if you start to get moisture in your windows—be it in the form of condensation or another form—it’s time to look into replacement windows. Here at Bell Brothers, our experienced pros can make sure you get the perfect double pane windows to bring your home all of the many benefits and advantages they have to offer. All our windows are custom made, so you can rest assured you’ll be getting a perfect fit.
Simply put, if you start to get moisture in your windows—be it in the form of condensation or another form—it’s time to look into replacement windows.
So, there you have it, an answer to one of the most common questions that folks tend to ask about window replacements in our area. I highly recommend that if you suspect it’s time to replace your own double pane windows, you reach out to us here at Bell Brothers and set up a free in-home estimate today!
Learn more about the many benefits of hiring an experienced professional to install custom replacement windows for your home—and whether there are other maintenance steps your house is in need of as well, from an HVAC system upgrade to efficient plumbing to an insulation install. Contact the experienced energy-efficient home professionals at Bell Brothers today.
Wondering how to finance needed energy-efficient upgrades? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford projects for their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from application to installation.
Image courtesy icarmen13