condensation and frost on windows

coffey09June 9, 2009

I am trying to do some research to understand what I perceive to be an issue with our new windows installed in 2008. We have new triple glazed windows  Triple glazed, two layers of Low-E coating and ½" between glass with argon fill. I am hoping the good stuffÂWe are seeing frost on the bottom of the glass at times when the temperature drops.

We live in Minnesota where the temperature can dip well below zero. The issue we have been seeing is that we are getting frost build up on the bottom of these high performance windows. I am quite disappointed as our older double glazed did the same thing. We were hoping that an upgrade to windows would eliminate this problem. We have been going round and round with the manufacture and they come back stating there is too much humidity in the home. That is where I have trouble.

We have an air exchanger that we monitor and try to adjust with the temperature changes  although not every day We also have an exhaust fan in the master bath that is most often used by the family for showers and such. The thinking behind going the route of triple glazed was that the glass temp would be higher, thus allowing us to keep the humidity a bit higher in the house yet not get the condensation. We did not ever expect to see frost on the inner pane. To me windows do not seem to be performing as I would expect. Am I off base?

Here are some readings I took in the bedroom where we have the most trouble with frost.


Outdoor temp = 7°

Outdoor Humidity = 60%

M.Bedroom temp = 65°

M. Bedroom Humidity = 29%

Slight amount of moisture only present in corners - only looked at the north window


Outdoor temp = 26°

Outdoor Humidity = 80%

M.Bedroom temp = 66°

M. Bedroom Humidity = 28%

Window was clear and dry


Outdoor temp = 4°

Outdoor Humidity = 41%

M.Bedroom temp = 62°

M. Bedroom Humidity = 25%

Slight amount of moisture present in corners and up about .125" across the bottom - only looked at the north window


Outdoor temp = 1°

Outdoor Humidity = 57%

M.Bedroom temp = 64°

M. Bedroom Humidity = 25%

Slight amount of moisture present in corners - only looked at the north window

Due to onset and hope of continued warm weather the thermometer was moved back to the kitchen.

Readings from 3-11-09

Outside Temp = -1°

Outside Humidity = 83%

Kitchen temp= 61°

Kitchen Humidity = 28%

Frost on all windows in the Master bedroom  corners and up about .25" along the bottom. Frost on rear bedroom and front Bedroom windows. Picture window in the great room had frost in the corners only. Dining window had frost in corners and slightly along the bottom of the window.

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I'm curious about who the manuf. of the windows is? What the specs on the windows are ie. u-factor, SHGC. What type of spacer, metal or TPS or Super Spacer (silicon foam)? Are they gas filled panes and if so what type of gas? What is the air infiltration and structural ratings (AAMA Cert.)?

Were the windows professionally installed? What type of insulation was used when they were installed ie. fiberglass, low expansion foam, or nothing at all?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 1:49AM
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I second what skydawggy said. Knowing whose window it is may help along with the performance numbers if available.

A couple of other thoughts - when the windows frosted up were there closed blinds or shades covering them?

I am going to guess that these are casement or fixed casement units?

With LowE on surface 2 and 5 (typical) and a 1/2" argon filled space there is no way that you should be seeing condensation on those units, much less frost, if everything is working as it should be. Even an aluminum spacer should be sufficient to eliminate surface condensation in a typical application.

Looking at your numbers, your indoor RH is pretty darn low. The temps you gave indicate that you keep your house fairly cool in the winter which means at higher temps your RH is going to go down even more. With dual-LowE triples, the glass should not get cold enough to condensate at the moisture level that you have in your air.

Outdoor RH is a non-issue with indoor condensation, but even if it wasn't - for a quick comparison - at 1°F outside temp and an outside RH of 57%, you have about .1614 grams of water per cubic meter of air...raise the temp to 50°F and keep the moisture level the same, and your RH is about 2% - which is pretty darn dry!

Have you talked with the window company rep? I would be really curious to know what they told you.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 9:38PM
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