Condensation Inside Your Home

Dear NH,
I love your site, but I cannot find the answer to my problem. I am getting condensation on all my aluminum window frames, causing black mold. What can I do to prevent this... a dehumidifier or what?
RT in Vancouver, B.C.

Your mission... seal the windows more tightly and/or decrease the level of moisture in the room air any way you can. If your windows are leaking outside air, this air could be cooling the frames sufficiently to produce condensation. Weatherstripping at the locations where leaks are felt can be beneficial and in some cases may be the only effort needed to stop the condensation. However, if your aluminum frames are continuous from inside to outside, they are likely acting as conductors for the cold, leaving you with the options of either reducing the moisture in the air or installing some barrier inside to keep room air away from the frames.

Sometimes, the source of moisture may not even be in the room... for example, moisture from a damp basement or crawlspace can rise within the walls and condense on the cold windows or metal frames. So as you see, condensation problems need a "shotgun" approach. For example, a dehumidifier in the basement or in the affected room, opening a window a crack to let in cool dry outside air (I know if sounds like a contradiction, but sometimes it is worth a try), using the ventilator fan in the bathroom while taking a shower, installing and using a vented stove range hood, etc., can all help to minimize this problem.

That having been said, it may not be possible to totally eliminate the problem, depending on the construction of your home, the type of windows, etc. Replacing the windows with double insulated glass can help, too, since the inner pane is warmer and less likely to attract condensation.

A more economical (albeit temporary) alternative would be to install plastic "shrink-wrap" style interior storm windows with good result. This temporary shield will keep moist inside air away from the cold windows and frames, plus decrease air infiltration. If you don't mind the appearance (which is actually not too bad if the installation is done neatly), this could do the trick for you.


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