Are foggy windows the sign of a larger problem?

Depending on the temperature changes inside and out of your house, everyone experiences foggy windows at some point or another. However, if you notice fog or condensation consistently between the window panes or on the glass itself, it could be a sign of glass failure. Repeated mist and moisture can be caused by several reasons – poor manufacturing, damage during transportation, bad installation, seal failure or solar pumping. Solar pumping is the natural cycle of gas expansion and contraction inside dual-paned windows. Likewise, temperatures change throughout the days and seasons can stress the seals on your windows and lead to fractures. Windows on the sunny side of a home will experience larger temperature swings, resulting in greater amounts of thermal pumping, seal stress and failure rates. So if you’ve noticed a mist that appears frequently, you may have problem glass in the early stages of failure.

Problems with mist and moisture on windows can become progressively worse, and definitely should be addressed. But should you repair or replace the glass? You don’t always have to replace the entire window – a simple, money-saving option is just to repair it. Glass can be easily repaired without having to replace the entire window. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, only 5% of all cases require the entire window be replaced (nachi.org).

An option recently added to the market is defogging, a process in which a hole is drilled into the outside of a fogged window, allowing a cleaning solution to be sprayed between panes, then removed – along with excess moisture – by a vacuum. A permanent defogging device is then installed in the hole to allow continued moisture release during solar pumping. Homeowners should note, however, that this solution has not yet been proven to fix the overall problem – which is usually a broken seal – but simply improves the window’s cosmetic appearance.

The best way to prevent your windows from fogging is to ensure windows are expertly installed using quality glass, because even a small defect can leak enough to cause condensation issues. Not only is condensation buildup in windows unattractive, it can also affect a window’s insulation effectiveness – and in turn, the heating and cooling efficiency of your entire home. Foggy windows also devalue your home, especially if you’re trying to sell, and can turn off a potential buyer.

Windows are a big part of what makes your home beautiful and energy efficient. If you are unsure if your windows were properly installed or you have ongoing fog problems, it’s probably time to call a professional like Jack’s Glass to determine if you need a full replacement or repair.

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