March 26, 2015
New Homes Today Condensation

If you have just moved into a new Tartan Home, it is almost certain that you have not lived in a house that is so well insulated and sealed.  The benefits are obvious; lower heating and cooling costs.  However, one concern about living in such a house is making sure the air is fresh, and controlling humidity.  An HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) addresses these concerns, and you can learn more about the HRV by looking at my previous blogs.  As a brief reminder, the HRV continually expels stale and humid – rich air, and replaces it with preheated fresh air from the outside.  It’s important to know how to control the HRV to maintain optimal indoor air quality and to control humidity.

But this blog is about condensation.  Condensation occurs in the winter months when warm humid air comes in contact with a cold surface, particularly window glass.  The airborne moisture condenses into water.  Telltale signs are small amounts of water pooling on windowsills.

Some amount of condensation is normal in the colder months.  The presence of water pooling on your windowsills in the winter is not a sign of a defective window.  It is not a serious problem, so it should not concern you.  Toward the end of this blog I will give you some household maintenance suggestions on how to manage it.

There are two primary sources of airborne humidity in a brand new home.

The first one is actually a source of humidity in all homes:  living.  Bathing, washing, cooking, breathing, growing plants are all things that generate airborne moisture.

The second source is particular to new homes.  So many materials in a brand new home have high moisture content at time of installation.  This includes the lumber, drywall, plaster, concrete, and tiles.  During the first heating season, a great deal of this moisture is released into the air, and increases the level of humidity.  Condensation, as described above, is much more likely to occur during the first heating season.  If you attended the my-move seminar or watched our videos, you will have heard about houses “settling” during the first year.  This is really the house slowly drying out.  This is a normal process.  The materials in your home will slowly shed this moisture.

Things you can do to deal with condensation include:

  • Make sure your HRV is running properly (see manual for further information)
  • Use bathroom and kitchen fans to help expel moisture.
  • Check the hygrometer that came with your welcome package.  The little instruction card will tell you the optimal humidity levels for indoor air in the winter time (40%-50%)
  • Control humidity with HRV and fans
  • Wipe up the pooled water from the window sills
  • Remove window screens in winter.  It allows for better air flow, and makes it easier to wipe up pooled water.
  • Leave your curtains open for good portions of the day, to allow for air circulation around the inside surface of the window.