If your existing double glazed windows are getting old, the question may arise as to whether you should re-glaze them. Here in the UK we have a persistent problem with condensation that lasts for the best part of half a year, every year. This can cause degradation of your glazed windows over time and cause them to become ‘misty.’ Even with the modern innovations of today like uPVC frames and silica gel, most window suppliers will offer a 15-20 year guarantee, if you’re windows are deteriorating and you are within the warrantee or have insurance, you may be able to get them replaced, otherwise you will need to pay for replacements. Lets take a look at what causes condensation in double glazed windows.
Condensation On Double Glazed Windows
When gas or vapour turns into liquid, this is known as ‘condensation.’ Most know it as the layer of water that forms on windows early in the winter mornings, a cause for a number of problems including the spread of damp. Condensation forms as a result of the level of water in the atmosphere and can affect windows in winter and in a particularly humid summer. Condensation appears on the interior and exterior of your windows or even the cross section. It is common advice to air windows once a day in the winter to stop the build up of condensation from heating. It is also highly recommended that homeowners don’t dry clothes on radiators as this releases water into the air which causes the spread of condensation and damp. While this is good advice, it is not always practical and even with the best efforts to reduce condensation, it cannot be completely eliminated.
You may live in a property with poor air circulation meaning the moisture in the air can’t be cleaned. This can be reduced with a dehumidifier and/or extraction fans but this will minimise the problem, not solve it. The major problem areas in most homes are bathrooms and kitchens and the windows in those rooms are most likely to deteriorate the quickest.
It is possible to reduce condensation on the inside of your house by regulating the temperature of your rooms and taking the steps mentioned earlier in this article. As your windows wear with time, the heat from your property will transfer outside which in turn will lead to a cold home, the need to turn up the heating and keep it on for longer and of course, as a result, increased heating bills.
Condensation doesn’t always mean you have poor quality or worn down windows, in fact sometimes it is a sign the windows are doing their job and have been fitted well. Sometimes, a complete replacement of your existing windows is not necessary. A few simple fixes like replacing the draught seals can preserve the life of your windows and keep your carbon emissions down at the same time. If you live in rented accommodation you could try cheap but effective fixes like weather strips. You can buy weather strips for as little as £8 but it’s important you buy the right type. Nail-on weather strips work best on wooden frames and adhesive strips are best suited to metal or PVC windows. Rubber strips always work better than cheap alternatives like vinyl and foam tape, cost effective is good but you don’t want to go too cheap as you will just be wasting money.
As much as it is overlooked, you can’t ignore the value of a good pair of curtains for increasing energy efficiency, retaining heat and reducing the effects of condensation.
Another option is secondary glazing. Rather than replacing your double glazed windows, you could have a pane of glass and a frame installed to your existing window or windows. Secondary glazing is a good option if you are looking to keep costs down while making your home more energy efficient. It is also a good option if your property is a listed building. It might sound like a bit of an eyesore, but secondary glazing is in actual fact, very unobtrusive. It can be held in place with an inconspicuous light frame and to all intents and purposes, still allows your windows to function as normal.
There are two main types of secondary glazing
Noise Reduction Secondary Glazing
Draft Reduction Secondary Glazing
Noise reduction secondary glazing is suited to a busy area where any number of disturbances can cause your existing windows to vibrate. Anything from cars, motorbikes, trains, low flying aircraft and even just the neighbours mowing the lawn or nearby road workers using a pneumatic drill can cause a loud and highly disturbing rumble that resonates through your home. Noise pollution is a growing problem which can be significantly reduced with secondary glazing. The benefits of installing draft reduction secondary panes are not limited to the home but can also greatly benefit offices, schools and public service buildings such as library’s.
Draft reduction secondary glazing is a cost effective solution for older single glazed windows with poor seals and insufficient insulation. Many listed buildings have these types of window and cannot be double glazed making secondary glazing the best fit for improving energy efficiency.
It should be noted that while secondary glazing is a cheap and efficient alternative to double glazing, it does not compare in quality to double glazing. There are some drawbacks to secondary glazing such as the extra maintenance required to keep it clean. If you are on a tight budget, secondary glazing is a good option. If, however you can afford double glazing it is always better in most aspects from insulation to protection from UV rays and energy efficiency.
Depending on factors such as your location and budget, you can choose between secondary or double glazing. While secondary glazing wins out on cost and noise reduction, double glazing wins on pretty much every other aspect. If you are still unsure, arrange an expert consultation to determine the best fit for your property.