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What is condensation?

Condensation is when water vapor (humidity) changes from air to liquid. This liquid forms into droplets on glass surfaces in a home. Water droplets inside your windows, patio doors, or skylights are an indication of excess moisture in your home and is not formed by water ‘sweating’ into the home. The glass is only a collector of the water that is already in your home condensing from the cooling air.

The air around us contains humidity, and additional humidity is created by cooking, cleaning and showering, thus forming condensation. Condensation is most noticeable on skylights because warm, moist air rises to the ceiling and is more prevalent in new homes. After a few years, new homes tend to dry out and have less moisture problems.

This is a more common problem in winter months when the cooler outside temperature difference is much greater and you begin to heat your home.

What does this mean?

Condensation is an indication that your humidity level is too high; there is too much moisture in your home. You can see this happening on your exterior glass products .Excessive moisture in your home can cause damage to your home in the form of warp, rot, and paint chipping. Most likely, when you have condensation on your windows, patio doors, and skylights; this is also happening in your walls.

What causes high humidity levels?

Normal activities of showers, cooking, dish washing, and even breathing release water into your air. Other common factors include gas appliances, large fish tanks, and house plants.

The problem is more common in newer built homes where the construction methods are ‘tighter’ than older homes which were built more breathable. Tighter built homes have far greater energy and heating efficiencies but tend to trap humidity in as well. Older homes allowed the gained water vapors to escape out, as well as the heat.

This phenomenon occurs generally with rapid decrease in outside temperature in the fall season. During this time, there is a greater difference in temperatures between the warm interior of your home and the colder outdoors. You can decrease the amount of moisture in your home by using a dehumidifier and providing adequate ventilation and air circulation.

Solution Methods

The best way for limiting condensation on skylights is to make sure to have air moving in the skylight wells at all times. Install a ceiling fan that moves air in the direction of the skylight. You can also install an exhaust fan in the sidewall of the skylight well. Of course, purchasing skylights that are built with adequate condensation channels, and ensuring the skylights are properly installed, is critical to controlling condensation. Click here for Columbia’s suggested solutions on reducing condensation. A third option would be to install a Columbia ventilating skylight. These skylights can be opened with manual or electric controls to eliminate the warm, moist air within a home.

You can also take these steps to better ventilate your home:

  • Control sources of humidity and moisture.
  • Keep interior doors open.
  • For a short time every day, try to vent air by opening windows in your home.
  • Open a window while showering or cooking.
  • Keep attic vents open. Warm, moist air rises and will be vented to the outside.
  • Maintain a constant thermostat setting throughout the day; above 20˚ C (68˚ F) is recommended.
  • Be sure that air can pass through your blinds and drapes.
  • Install a fresh air intake on your furnace.

Keep in mind that excess moisture is already present in your home due to every day activities. Columbia skylights are built with wide condensation gutters that collect accumulated water when extreme condensation conditions occur. Every drop of water is drained to the outside of your home through weep holes.