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Condensation Forming On Storm Windows?

Posted by Tracy Dillingham on January 14th, 2000 01:46 PM

In 1996 we bought premium grade aluminum composite prime windows (double pane, gas filled, thermal breaks) from Pacesetter Products. They were installed in that fall. By that winter, it was obvious that there was a draft coming in on several windows and the result during really cold weather (less than 20 degrees F) was the formation of ice around the inside pane of glass right next to where the frames meet the rails. It was so bad in several spots that the windows were frozen shut with about a 1/4" of ice! Pacesetter's solution to the problem was to install storm windows over the primes (which they did at no additional cost thank you). The following winter, we noticed that the condensation problem had moved to the inside pane of the outside single pane storm windows. Several things were tried such as "adjustments" to the primes to supposedly tighten up the seals, drilling additional weep holes in the storms, sealing the weep holes, etc. The problem continues... And Pacesetter says they can't fix it. Although one of the nine windows installed (a double hung) located in the kitchen (which is supposedly the most humid area of any home), doesn't exhibit the problem what so ever! Oh yes, they say we've got an excessive moisture problem in the house. Not so! Relative humidity readings taken recently indicate only 25-35% RH with a maximum of 40%! (FANG Heating, wood stove, no humidifier, no damp crawl space, ventilated attic and crawl space, gas hot water heater vented outside!) A RH chart prepared by E.M. Sterling, et al, of T.D. Sterling Ltd., and used by the ASHRAE as describing "optimum" RH for homes for Health, Comfort, Furnishing, Static Electricty Control, etc, states that an RH of 40-60% is optimum! 30% in the winter.
However, a study pronounced by some engineering study at 70 degrees F. (University of Minnesota) states that at 0 degrees (F) outside temperature, the inside humidity should not be greater than 30% RH (scaled for ranges) to prevent condensation from appearing on "inside panes" of windows. This study seems to widely quoted by the window producing industry as a way to counter "optimum RH"! Pacesetter seems to think we need a dehumidifier. I think they need to seal the other nine windows as well as they sealed the one (in the kitchen) that doesn't exhibit the problem. Let me preface my claim by stating that the other manufacturer's windows and a sliding glass door (Four Season's and Andersen) located in the very same house DO NOT exhibit the same condensation problems what so ever at any temperature or RH encountered! Why not Pacesetter's?

So, what I'm wondering is: If anyone else out there in internet land has had experience with this particular problem? Similar experience(s)PROBLEMS with Pacesetter windows? Have found a solution to the problem and if so, what it was? We are currently arguing with Pacesetter over this problem and how to fix it. They say that if it is "excessive humidity" then its our problem (and we buy a dehumidifier) and if its not, they'll rip these out and give us new vinyl type frame windows. Don't know if that would fix the problem either? Any ideas? Comments? Solutions? Love to hear them!


Tracy Dillingham
Carbondale, Colorado

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