By Dylan R
When the outdoor temperature plummets and Calgarians settle in for the inevitable stretch of minus 30°C weather, many are faced with condensation and ice build-up on their household windows.
Kelly Anderson is no stranger this problem and says after three winters in her home, she’s resigned to the possibility that this might just be a uniquely Canadian problem.
“Some winters it’s really bad, especially when we get hit with a long cold spell,” says Anderson.
“Ice builds up, sometimes one inch thick, and no amount of scraping or wiping does the trick. It comes right back.”
Anderson says she’s received advice on the problem from a few sources but doesn’t know how much stock to put in it.
“I had a window company come to my home last winter to look at the problem, and they said new windows would get rid of the ice, as mine are likely the originals that came with this house when it was built around 30 years ago.”
Anderson, who was informed that all her window seals were broken, says replacing all the 19 windows in her home would be a $30,000 investment, and at this stage of her life, she can live with the ice rather than fork out that kind of money.
Skeptical of the ‘sales pitch,’ Anderson sought advice from more objective sources.
General contractor Randy Pederson says there are typically three factors which likely are the cause of condensation and ice buildup: humidity, airflow, and insulation.
“Windows are the coldest surface inside your home,” says Pederson.
“When warm air and the window come in contact, you get condensation.”
Good airflow in your home, especially newer homes that don’t ‘breathe’ well, is important for evaporating moisture.
“Keeping blinds and curtains open, running ceiling fans, and keeping your furnace fan running help to move the air around,” says Pederson.
According to Pederson, ensuring the humidity in your home is adjusted to the appropriate settings based on the outdoor temperatures can be helpful.
“When it gets down to minus 20°C, you don’t want the relative humidity levels (in your home) to exceed 20 per cent,” says Pederson.
“Running fans in your washrooms for 20 minutes after you bathe or shower and making sure you run the exhaust fan in your kitchen while cooking are both big when it comes to removing excess humidity.”
At the very least, it might be prudent to place a dehumidifier in problem rooms.
The type of windows present in a home is another factor when it comes to condensation and ice.
According to Bill Hughes, a product expert at Home Depot, several options exist when trying to solve them problem.
“You can combat condensation when putting in new windows by including such options as low E glass, argon, or triple-glazing. These options help make the glass surface warmer,” says Hughes.
Hughes recommends purchasing insulation film at your local hardware store and placing it on the inside of your windows as a less expensive option.
“It’s cheap, easy to install and works very well at reducing condensation by creating a barrier between the cold glass and warm air in your home.”