Winter weather is here, which means snowstorms and frosted windows that radiate the light from inside, creating scenes reminiscent of holiday greeting cards. Unfortunately, though, ice, snow, and frost can create issues that damage your home’s windows and drive up your winter heating bills. Be sure to keep an eye on your windows this winter, and look for condensation and frost. The issues it can create for your home range from mold and mildew problems to warped window frames, cracked glass, cracked paint, rotten wood, and discolored topcoat on the windows. Know the causes of icy windows and stay ahead of the problem to protect the investment in your home.
Causes of Frost Inside Windows
Before you can address the ice and frost problem inside your windows, you must know why it forms. This is not an uncommon occurrence, but it is one you want to avoid. Consider the reasons it may be happening in your home.
- Old or poorly functioning windows. When your windows are old or out of shape, they may not be able to insulate your home properly against the cold weather outside. This not only affects your home’s energy efficiency, but it can be a cause of interior frost. Factors that may affect this include worn-out frames, single-pane glass, worn glazing, and improper installation.
- Air leakage. Windows leak air for various reasons. Some of the most common include poor insulation around the window, old or damaged windows, bad weather stripping, and poor installation. The windows that are most commonly affected by this issue are single-hung, double-hung, and horizontal sliders.
- Interior humidity. Humidity, a measure of the water vapor in your home’s air, can result from various factors. Some of the reasons homeowners see excess humidity in their homes in the winter months include the furnace humidifier being set incorrectly, poor ventilation in the laundry room, showering, and cooking. This water vapor can materialize as frost on the inside of your windows when the temperatures drop.
Ice on the Outside of Windows
While the reasons for ice on the inside of your windows may vary, the reason for ice on the outside of your windows is usually obvious. Winter snow and ice storms commonly cause frost and ice on the outside of the windows, as well as melting from the roof running over the windows during the day and refreezing at night when it’s colder. The moisture in the air also causes frost to form on windows as temperatures change, just as it does on your car’s windshield.
How Does This Create Problems?
When homeowners face repeated exposure to ice on their windows, it can have several damaging effects on the home. Some of the reasons this problem should be addressed as soon as possible include:
- Energy bills. When you have ice forming on your windows, especially inside, it affects your windows’ insulating properties, and your furnace needs to work harder to keep you comfortable inside. This, in turn, increases your monthly energy utility costs.
- Comfort level. In addition to being harder on your furnace, the presence of ice on your window surfaces can create drafts and chills that make it difficult to feel warm and cozy in your home.
- Health effects. When the frost on your windows melts, the water seeps into cracks and crevices in the window frame and paint. This begins to cause the wood to rot as mold and mildew form. These growths can affect your family’s allergies, as well as other negative influences on your health.
- Window damage. Icy windows create several different issues that can damage the integrity of your windows. Everything from discoloration to warping, swelling, and shrinking can affect the way your windows protect your home and family. These issues cause further air leakage and can result in cracked window panes.
How to Prevent Ice on Your Windows
If your windows are prone to ice and frost formation in the winter, you must take steps to prevent this frost from forming to keep your household warm and safe, save money on energy, and prevent your windows from becoming damaged. You can do many things to remedy this issue, so consider these ideas to determine your best course of action.
- Heat recovery ventilator (HVR) systems. Proper ventilation in the home is one of the primary ways to avoid ice formation on your window interiors. HVR systems circulate fresh air through your home at programmable timed intervals.
- Seal windows with caulk. Although it is not a permanent solution, one method to reduce frost formation is to make sure gaps and leaks around windows are sealed with caulk or foam sealant. This can be done where the frame and window sashes meet, as well.
- Keep the curtains open. One way to allow air to circulate more fully to your windows is to open the blinds and drapes.
- Warm the room. Sometimes simply turning up the thermostat a notch or two can warm your house up enough to prevent ice from forming. This is not the most energy-efficient way to address the problem, so you may consider doing this at night only. Another option is to use a space heater if your frost issue is confined to one room.
- Dehumidifiers and maintenance. One way to remove excess moisture from the air in your home and prevent ice and frost from forming is to use a dehumidifier. Be sure to use your exhaust fans when showering and cooking as well. They can remove a great deal of excess moisture. You should also be sure to keep up with regular maintenance on your furnace and water heater to ensure that they are operating efficiently.
- Upgrade windows. If your windows are old and outdated, you can save on energy and prevent ice build-up by investing in new double or triple-paned replacement windows. These windows contain argon gas between the panes, which helps prevent ice formation and further insulates your home. Replacement windows also come with the benefit of increased property value.
Now that you know why your windows get icy in the winter and the steps you can take to prevent frost from forming, you can protect your home. If you have issues that you can’t resolve, it is essential to call a professional and consider replacing your windows to ensure your comfort and safety.