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Condensation on Windows


SWagar
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Yesterday I inspected a 2008 condo in a highrise. The potential buyer and current resident complained to me that every morning during the heating season there is major amounts on condensation on the all of the fixed and operational window sills. She said that there are actual puddles and there are drips from the horizontal metal window frames. There is enough water to soak a medium size towel. Se said it was more pronounced in the bedroom but that it happens in all rooms. I did not see the problem, by the time I started the inspection the water had been dryed. She also said it happens in other units but not too many units on her side of the building are occupied yet.

From the inside, the windows appeared to be installed properly. I could not feel any drafts nor were there any broken window seals. I know metal framed windows may have some condensation but even if I take her description and cut it in half, that would still be way too much.

From the exterior deck I noticed this feature on every window. There were at least two holes in each horizontal metal mmber. At first I assumed they were weep holes. But these were 1/2 to 5/8 in diameter, which seems excessive for weep holes. My thought is they may have been needed for installation and are now allowing air to circulate through the window frames keeping them cold. The constantly cold frames in contact with the warm interior air is producing condesation continually.

I could see into a couple of the frames at the holes, they are hollow and uninsulated.

Any thoughts?

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Hi,

That's certainly a possibility but what type of air change system is in place to replace that moisture-laden interior air? As tight as new buildings are today, one doesn't find them built very often anymore without some automated way of replacing that air.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Those look more like commercial windows. I have seen drain/weep holes like the ones in your picture but on commercial buildings. To try and figure out what is going on you would need to also look at what else could be causing excess humidity in the house. Was the RH high? Knowing the dew point and RH inside the home will help.

I would be looking at the type of heating system in the home. Also the number of occupants can have a major impact on how much moisture is in the home.

My bet is with the metal framed windows. With this type of window it is common for the frame to get cold and allow for moisture condense on their frames. Not much can be done with the window to stop this, but by increasing the air circulation and reducing the humidity inside the home it could help.

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Thanks for the input.

I agree that these are commercial windows the condo unit is in a 30+ floor high-rise tower.

I spoke with my client about the use of their exhaust fans, her response indicated that they (2 occupants in 2000 square feet) used them during and after showering.

I do not believe that there was an air exchanger installed, at least there were no visible signs of one.

The HVAC system was a water sourced heat pump. I mentioned to them that the HVAC ducts, located on the walls at the ceiling, are blowing directly toward the windows. This may be compounding the problem. Not that they could do much about that.

My clients said that this same thing happens in other units as well. A owner one floor below actually keeps towels on the window sills to soak up the water. This leads me to believe that the condensation is not caused only by their behaviors but rather something more systemic.

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Yesterday I inspected a 2008 condo in a highrise. The potential buyer and current resident complained to me that every morning during the heating season there is major amounts on condensation on the all of the fixed and operational window sills. She said that there are actual puddles and there are drips from the horizontal metal window frames. There is enough water to soak a medium size towel. Se said it was more pronounced in the bedroom but that it happens in all rooms. I did not see the problem, by the time I started the inspection the water had been dryed. She also said it happens in other units but not too many units on her side of the building are occupied yet.

From the inside, the windows appeared to be installed properly. I could not feel any drafts nor were there any broken window seals. I know metal framed windows may have some condensation but even if I take her description and cut it in half, that would still be way too much.

From the exterior deck I noticed this feature on every window. There were at least two holes in each horizontal metal mmber. At first I assumed they were weep holes. But these were 1/2 to 5/8 in diameter, which seems excessive for weep holes. My thought is they may have been needed for installation and are now allowing air to circulate through the window frames keeping them cold. The constantly cold frames in contact with the warm interior air is producing condesation continually.

I could see into a couple of the frames at the holes, they are hollow and uninsulated.

Any thoughts?

Just out of curiosity, is this the high rise on SW 18th across from PGE Park?

With that much condensation, either the frames are getting very cold or the indoor humidity is very high. The holes in the frames aren't helping anything but I doubt that they're making a huge difference in the temperature of the indoor aluminum surface. The window shades aren't helping either, they're allowing the interior surfaces of the windows to get colder than they would if the shades weren't there.

Even so, I have a hard time believing that the window frames' interior surfaces are getting *that* cold in our relatively mild climate. It's quite possible that the building has a global problem with indoor humidity.

If I were inspecting this unit, I'd advise the customer to get with the association and call the mechanical engineering firm that worked on this project. If it's a global problem, this should be a warranty issue. You may find that there's a building-wide ventilation system that isn't working properly.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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You may find that there's a building-wide ventilation system that isn't working properly.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Yeah, I think you're right. A new high rise like that needs some kind of air exchange system. Without it, you're trapping moisture being given off by hundreds of people. I normally find something incorporated into the ductwork of the heat pump system with a timer on it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Jim,

This unit is in the SW Waterfront. The condo building has not yet been turned over to the HOA. I recommended to my clients that they contact the builder/developer. I'm guessing that since many units are not yet occupied, there haven't been that many complaints.

Imagine the amount of condensation they're liable to get once all of those units are occupied and more people start pumping moisture into the interior of that structure.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I agree with comments below, I would recommend inspecting the heating system air exchange and I have also seen poorly insulated commercial windows in high-rises that do the same thing. Upon further investigation, I situation exposed poorly insulation and framing around the windows which allows cold air to encounter the heat interinal air.

Robert,

http://www.atexinspects.com

Yesterday I inspected a 2008 condo in a highrise. The potential buyer and current resident complained to me that every morning during the heating season there is major amounts on condensation on the all of the fixed and operational window sills. She said that there are actual puddles and there are drips from the horizontal metal window frames. There is enough water to soak a medium size towel. Se said it was more pronounced in the bedroom but that it happens in all rooms. I did not see the problem, by the time I started the inspection the water had been dryed. She also said it happens in other units but not too many units on her side of the building are occupied yet.

From the inside, the windows appeared to be installed properly. I could not feel any drafts nor were there any broken window seals. I know metal framed windows may have some condensation but even if I take her description and cut it in half, that would still be way too much.

From the exterior deck I noticed this feature on every window. There were at least two holes in each horizontal metal mmber. At first I assumed they were weep holes. But these were 1/2 to 5/8 in diameter, which seems excessive for weep holes. My thought is they may have been needed for installation and are now allowing air to circulate through the window frames keeping them cold. The constantly cold frames in contact with the warm interior air is producing condesation continually.

I could see into a couple of the frames at the holes, they are hollow and uninsulated.

Any thoughts?

Click to Enlarge
2009221131217_IMG_3909.jpg

85.5 KB

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2009221131247_IMG_3904.jpg

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2009221131310_IMG_3908.jpg

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I just thought I'd post these as a follow up to my original post. Like I said, I did not see the condensation on the windows. I asked the client to take photos of the condensation. The overnight temperature has not been as cold as it was before my Inspection. I imagine there is more with a 10 degree outdoor temp. decrease.

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