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Winter Window Issues Don’t Have to Wreak Havoc on Your Home | Golden Windows

Winter maintenance is essential in protecting the value of your home and this is especially true for your windows. After all, their integrity directly affects your home’s insulation and how hard you have to work to keep yourself warm. The winter months pose all sorts of dangers to the home, so before you start to worry about what the cold will do to your windows, read on to learn about common winter window issues and what you can do about them.

Humidity

Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air, and it’s normal and healthy to have some humidity (in varying amounts according to the season). The amount of water vapour/moisture present in the air expressed as a percentage of the amount needed for saturation at the same temperature. It is often called “relative humidity” or “RH” for short. RH is important because it provides a way to assess moisture conditions and condensation risks in a home.

Key points about Relative Humidity:

  • Relative humidity in a home can be measured with a hygrometer, which is an inexpensive gauge that looks like a thermometer.
  • RH measurements run from 10% to 100% and provide an indicator of how much moisture is in the air relative to what it can hold. Dry air has lower RH readings and moist air has higher.

Here’s a quick guide to appropriate humidity levels:

Humidity-Levels

If you’ve determined your humidity is too low or too high, you should know what problems could arise and how you can manage the humidity in your home.

 

Humidity too low:

Low humidity or lack of moisture means the air in your house will be dry. Without proper moisture, you open yourself up to all of the pains that come with dry air: dry nose and throat, dry skin and increased risk of catching a cold. Dryness can also impact your home. Low humidity can damage wood and drywall, causing your wood floors to shrink and even causing pianos to go out of tune. Humidity levels are easily increased by using a humidifier. Humidifiers must be kept clean, changing filters regularly according to the manufacturers’ instructions. Make sure you purchase a humidifier that will cover the amount of square feet necessary for the area it will be used in your home and one that holds plenty of water - you don’t want to be constantly refilling it.

 

Humidity too high:

When the humidity is too high in your home, that increased moisture can stain ceilings and walls, peel paint and wallpaper and provide a nasty breeding ground for mold, rot and insects such as termites and cockroaches. Basements are notorious for having higher humidity levels, as are bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. Bedrooms and rooms closer to these areas will have a higher humidity level than ones further away. Newer, energy-efficient homes tend to fall victim to high humidity more often. Because these homes are built to seal up tight and prevent energy loss from heating and cooling, the home also seals in a lot of moisture, which in turn causes condensation on your windows.

 

Frame Rot

Wooden window frames that stay wet over long periods of time allow for rot to develop within the wood, weakening the frame and increasing the amount of shrinking, expansion, and warping that occurs as temperatures change. Frame rot also could result in your wooden window frame splitting or it could result in a pest infestation that could affect your whole home.

If you spot the signs of frame rot during the winter and you’re worried nothing can be done until the spring, don’t worry. At Golden Windows, we are seasoned and expert window manufacturers and installers, meaning we can replace windows in the winter, no problem. Don’t hesitate to give us a call

even if you just want a professional opinion on the state of your frames. As the saying goes: it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you don’t have a rotting frame, then you’re in the clear (for now). You just need to commit to regular maintenance by cleaning your frames with soapy water, filling cracks with wood filler, and using paints and stains to protect the wood.

 

Warping & Expansion

Wooden window frames are elegant and can add some timeless flair to your home’s style. If you don’t commit to maintaining them, however, your frames become susceptible to serious damage from moisture and cold weather. Low temperatures that come with dampness in the air are the most dangerous for wooden window frames because as the moisture enters the wood and freezes it causes warping and expansion.

To avoid this, you must seal your windows when they’re dry (this is best done during the warmer months) or consult with window professionals if the problem has started and you want to nip it in the bud.

 

Ice Obstruction

The amount of ice and snow your home will endure during a winter depends completely on the climate of where you live, but regular massive ice storms or just plain overnight freezing can cause damage to your windows just the same. You don’t have to live in particularly extreme climates to experience ice issues with your windows, even a little bit of cold can cause trouble.

Though if you notice that your windows are collecting ice on them to the point where they lose their functionality and are letting the cold into your home, then it’s probably time to consider new energy efficient replacement windows to keep your home warm and to keep your energy bill from reaching astronomical heights.

For windows that are collecting ice in and around them you must keep the areas around your windows clear and make an effort to prioritize climate control in the home to ensure your windows stay warm enough so ice doesn’t form. Follow this and the other tips outlined above to keep your windows functioning and free of damage even as the winter weather does its worst.

 

Efficiency & Moisture

Your home’s insulation matters more than ever during the winter. The winter months are actually a common time to discover issues with your windows. If there’s any susceptibility to leaks or drafts, the cold temperatures and precipitation of winter it the best time to identify those issues.

Do you know if your windows are as efficient as they can be? If your windows are regularly collecting condensation and freezing, then that could be a sign of a broken seal. A broken seal in your window means air is passing through, you’re losing energy, and your appliances might be working double time. Not to mention that weaker windows pose a safety issue for your home.

Do you know what you can do to stop ice from forming in your windows? Ice is, ultimately, a moisture issue. We’ve already discussed the ideal humidity conditions for a home in the winter and the importance of keeping your home’s humidity under control. There are some other things you can do to stop a window moisture issue from becoming a full-blown house issue.

 

Put a Stop to the Moisture

Here are some things you can do on your own to try and get ahead of a humidity issue in your home:

  1. In the winter, keep the relative humidity in your home in the range of 30-40%. Relative humidity levels can be measured with a hygrometer. Lower humidity levels may affect your health and cause things made of wood to shrink. Excess humidity can cause condensation on windows and damage the surrounding walls. When using a humidifier, follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
  2. Repair leaky pipes and fixtures immediately. Clean and completely dry any areas that are dampened or wet within 48 hours.
  3. Try not to produce too much humidity. Indoor hot tubs, plants, showers and cooking without lids are major sources of water vapour. They will add to your indoor air and need to be ventilated accordingly.
  4. Never vent your clothes dryer inside your home. If you have a gas or propane fired dryer you may also be venting carbon monoxide inside your home.
  5. Avoid drying firewood in the house. A cord of wood can release more than 270 litres (60 gallons) of water.
  6. Opening windows in your home for a short time will rid the windows of condensation.
  7. This will allow the dryer cold air to circulate inside the home while the moist warm air escapes.

 

If the signs of excessive humidity persist, you should increase the ventilation of your house. When the frequency of condensation is low (once or twice during the winter), you can reduce or eliminate the problem by briefly opening two windows located on opposite walls or by turning on the kitchen or bathroom exhaust fan. If the frequency of condensation is unacceptable, you should install a controlled mechanical ventilation system. Systems incorporating a heat recovery unit and relative humidity control are preferred.

 

What About the Sliding Patio Door?

We’ve talked at length about the importance of controlling the humidity in your home and what can happen to your windows when there are moisture issues that cause ice to form and damage to your window frames. Sliding patio doors contain a lot of glass so during the winter months, if they create a draft, they can collect frost and even act as a weak point for your home’s insulation.

You can insulate your patio door with weatherstripping, a black rubbery material you install around the edges of your window or door to seal any gaps, either by installing new stripping or replacing any old or damaged material.

You can use window film with your sliding doors, however this option essentially seals the door shut for the winter. If you plan on using your door for any purposes, a plastic film is going to get in the way. You can insulate the door with a carefully thought-out choice in drapery or blinds, just look for the R-value of the window treatment when shopping.

The R-value of blinds or curtains refers to the insulating value: the higher the R-value the more insulating the material. Like the plastic film solution, insulating blinds could affect the functionality of your doors as you keep them covered throughout the window, reducing the amount of sunlight that enters. When you install new, energy efficient windows, you get to cut costs on your electricity while creating a cozy home with plenty of natural sunlight.

 

Winter Window Replacement

Does the idea of a winter window installation seem a little daunting? Maybe just the sheer notion of opening up your home to the elements and turning your house into a construction zone when it’s the chilliest just seems silly. But what do you do if your leaky, inefficient windows are just too much to handle?

There really is nothing to fear with winter window installations. You might wonder: will the installation turn my once-cozy home into a frigid freezer? All you have to do is consult with the right installation company and ask them about their winter window installation procedure. It’s possible to keep your home from turning to ice during the installation and, what’s more, you might even get faster service since it’s the off-season. After all, wouldn’t you rather look out your window at the pretty snow than focus on a plastic film or the towel you have in the windowsill to collect condensation?

 

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve covered the importance of humidity in a home, the dangers of excess humidity, what it means when your windows grow icy, the steps you can take to control the humidity in your home, ways to improve the efficiency of outdated sliding patio doors (short of replacing them), and the benefits of a winter window installation.

You’ve learned some techniques and tricks to check for leaks in your windows and what it means if you have a regular condensation or ice issue. Canadian winters can be cold and unpredictable, but you shouldn’t get caught off guard with ice obstructions blocking your windows and causing damage to your window frames and water damage to your walls.

You can play an active role to minimize Old Man Winter’s effect on your home and spend the otherwise chilly winter months in comfort. Pick up on the signs of cold floors, cold walls, mold, drafts, and abnormally high energy bills—your home is telling you that something is off!

Armed with the knowledge of what those frosty windows can really mean for your home, you can now go forth and get rid of any winter-related issues to your windows and doors. Remember, the professionals are just a call away for a consultation to find out what window and door solution is best for your needs.

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