Nesting in overdrive...need Help!

Updated on January 14, 2008
L.T. asks from San Francisco, CA
18 answers

We recently moved to a new place that we love, but have found that in this cold damp weather, the windows that afford us such amazing views of the SF bay keep fogging up, collecting condensation and run and drip all over the place. There is even a skylight in our bedroom, right above our bed, where condensation collects and then drips on us.

This morning I found mold on the thermal drapes in the nursery, I assume due to all the water on the windows. I run around with a towel and squeegee once or twice a day, all just to watch them fog and bead back up.

We've already invested a small fortune in thermal drapes and childproof heaters to regulate the temperature and while it's no longer freezing (yay!!) it's still wet! I've looked into dehumidifiers, but seems like I would need at least 2, one for the front of the house and one for the back of the house...before I spend another $300-$500 does anyone know if this will help or have any other ideas how to keep all the moisture from collecting an all our windows?

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So What Happened?

We rent the flat we're in and the manager is coming over tomorrow to see the drippy windows and the pictures of the mold. I'll keep you all posted as to what they do.

This place is 50% windows all of which are single pane, uninsulated cold traps facing the bay. Here are pictures of some of my windows when they aren't all fogged up: http://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]____.com/sets/7215760222370...

So my dream response is he'll replace all the windows, but it's more likely he'll pony up for a dehumidifier or two...hopefully the mold pics will be compelling enough for more drastic steps. I'll post the mold pics to the same link as above later today.

Thanks so much for all the great tips and advice...keep em coming!
***************************************************************************************
Here's the latest:

The manager came over this am and told us they would pay for a dehumidifier and new heaters that I saw recommended here from another post: http://www.eheat.com/index.php for all the back bedrooms. He expects that replacing the windows for this unit would be $35-40K because of the large number and size of windows and the fact that most are not accessible without scaffolding from the outside but if there are any improvements they could make for around $5,000 they would. I am contacting PG&E to see if they will come out and what weatherizing tips they suggest in lieu of replacing all the windows. If we owned this place, that's what I would do in a heartbeat instead of spending money on all these quick fixes.

Thanks again for all your tips and feedback. I know it helped me to be more aggressive with my manager and it paid off in $600 worth of energy efficient heaters and dehumidifiers.
****************************************************************************************
Oh yeah, and still no baby....5 days overdue!

More Answers

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K.V.

answers from San Francisco on

Well first question: do you own or rent? If it's the latter, talk to your landlord (before you go out & spend more money) about the problem & see what they're willing to do. It sounds to me like new windows are needed but pricey. Probably something the landlord may not want to do. Maybe re-placing just the window in the nursery. Mold will eventually become a big issue which is not something you want to deal with. You could also try leaving towels rolled up on the window sill to catch any rolling moisture. I'm not sure of the cost of dehumidifiers but maybe get one for the babie's room first & see how that goes. Sorry, I wasn't much help. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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M.F.

answers from San Francisco on

We live in Albany, and we have a mold problem every winter. The only thing that I have found that helps is using a dehumidifier. Sears has them on sale sometimes.

Good luck, and congrats on your new baby.

M.

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J.C.

answers from San Francisco on

We had mildew issues in our bathroom. We put up a heated towel rack and 98% of it never returned. It will not help the other rooms in the house, but a place to start.

J. C.

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L.L.

answers from San Francisco on

I recommend a dehumidifier from Sears and diffusing Thieves oil blend in your home to prevent illness from mold. I have lived in the Bay Area for years and have developed sickness from mold, and Thieves and dehumidifiers have really helped me. One can obtain Thieves by going to youngliving.com and if you become an independent distributor it costs a bit more up front but in the long run it pays because you can get the oil for much cheaper. If you have more questions please don't hesitate to contact my phone at ###-###-#### or email at [email protected]____.com luck!
--L. Larsen, PsyD

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J.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi L.,

Sounds to me like you're not getting enough air circulation in your house. Sometimes this happens when homes have all the latest/greatest weatherization & insulation to keep the heat in...the moisture from showers, etc, also stays in if there is inadequate ventilation. A good HVAC contractor can help you get some ventilation installed. I'd check with Build It Green for some recommendations. Meanwhile, you might try opening windows & doors when you can.

Good luck,
JB

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M.E.

answers from San Francisco on

Dear L.,

I had been experiencing the same thing for decades and just bought a dehumidifier before the damp season set in. Wow, what a difference. Start with just getting one and see what you think. Home Depot had 2 capacity sizes and I chose the small one. You have to take into consideration that YOU have to lift that water reservior out and it can be heavy if you let it fill up, so just get the small one and empty a lighter load twice a day. The smaller one was less money, also.

Good Luck!

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G.W.

answers from San Francisco on

hi,is this an older house.......does it have single pane windows ...if so ....that is your problem....or if it has double pane windows,they are not sealed properly and are allowing outside temperture to mix with inside temp....that is what is causing the moisture....but i am guessing it is an older house and has not been improved by adding new windows....it may be also you need to have your home weather proofed, there may be a lot of cold air from outside getting into your home,all in all you need to get a contractor in and let him evaluate the problem....good luck....G.

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B.B.

answers from San Francisco on

We had the same problem and we first used a commercial product that absorbed water out of the air. (Kinda of like the kitty litter or charcoal approach.) They were little round balls in a netted material. It really didn't help much. Then we bought the humidifiers which I have to say made them problem better. We had three and placed them in the most humid spots. ( try craigslist) We finally remodeled the house and with the insulation and new windows we have pretty much eliminated the problem except on rare occasions.

Here is an article that I found when I was looking for solutions.

The relative humidity inside your house should be just high enough so that people are comfortable. Excess humidity may cause problems -- on the windows, in the walls and in the attic. It also impacts wood floors, furniture and human health.

Relative humidity is a function of moisture in the air and temperature. Warm air holds more moisture. If a window is colder than the surrounding air, the moisture in that air condenses when it comes into contact with the cold surface. Some condensation can be expected in cold weather. The colder the outdoor temperature, the more likely you are to have condensation.

The best way to control condensation is to keep relative humidity low. Consider sources of moisture that make relative humidity high, such as the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room:

* You can control moisture by providing adequate ventilation directly outside from these rooms. Use bathroom fans during and after showers and baths.
* Install a timer that keeps the fan running for at least 15 or 20 minutes after showering or bathing. This removes most of the excess moisture.
* Use kitchen fans that vent directly outside during and after cooking or baking. They remove moisture and reduce relative humidity inside.
* Make sure clothes dryers are properly vented. You don't want moisture being removed from clothes to get in the house.
* Make sure vent ducts for the dryer are sealed and as short as possible. Sealing them assures that excess moisture leaves the house and doesn't end up in the floor or wall, where hidden mold and damage happen.

In preparation for next winter, make sure your windows are sealed. Caulk where the inside frame meets the wall, and between the frame and the sash. Use weather stripping to close gaps on sliding window parts.

If condensation problems persist, consider a whole-house ventilation system. These balanced systems manage humidity and keep indoor air healthier. This means fresh air is brought into the house in the same amount that is being exhausted. Many systems recover the heat from the outgoing air in the winter to save energy.

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A.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi L.,
We lived in an old plaster-walled house when my first daughter was born and we had the same problem. Fortunately we rented and were able to convince our landlord to at least go in halves on a de-humidifier. It worked like a charm. We were amazed at the amount of water it pulled out of the air. Make sure you get one that has a regulator of some sort, because it can suck too much moisture out of the air and get too dry.
The house we are in now is also plastered walls and old, but not quite as wet. We found a product called Dry-Z-Air. You can get it at Rite Aid. It is a plastic basket in which you pour these white granules that suck the moisture out of the air and into a cup beneath the basket. If you have a toddler, you'll want to keep these out of reach. Maybe up on a shelf. I put one in my daughter's closet because it gets so damp. It's amazing how fast the cup fills up with water. It's very economical, but I'm not sure it would be enough for you. It's worth a try before you invest in a dehumidifier. We put one in every room.

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P.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Congratulations on your pending parenthood, you'll love it! This is not a solution to the moisture, but I would suggest that you have your house tested for mold levels. I've had so many friends recently discover dangerous levels of mold in their homes after dealing with a similar situation of condensation. Just to make sure there's no internal water damage and that you have it under control, contact a professional mold specialist to do a reading, you'll all rest better and they'll have suggestions for dealing with the moisture.

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M.S.

answers from San Francisco on

You need new windows. There is no way you should be squeegying two times a day and there is no way you should be dealing with gross water dripping on your face in the middle of the night. The windows in our old house caused us the same problems...constant condensation. Eventually, if you don't change them, it will cause health problems, as too much moisture causes mold,etc. Windows are a large expense, but completely worth it in the end...not only for the value of your house, but for your warmth, safety, etc.

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T.K.

answers from San Francisco on

I have lots of experience with mold. I ended up with my lungs contaminated from it and so did my daughter. She was holspitalized for a week from it. The health department came to my house and told me to just leave immediately with my daughter. I just want to impress on you that you need to take care of this ASAP.
Houses that are really well insulated but have a water issue, like seepage from underneath, can develop a situation where the moisture in teh air can't disipate. You can open a window and keep a window open, but in SF you get more moisture from outside anyway.

You really should call out a company that deals with this type of thing and have them look into it. There are various environmental companies that can help you. Look for an environmental remediation company. You can also call the health department. They may be able to recomend some companies in your area.

Best of luck.

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L.K.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi L., we had the same problem at our house during the winter: condensation on the windows, mold growing on walls behind furniture and in closets...even our sheets felt damp at night. We tried things like opening windows to get air circulating and wiping the walls and windows, but finally decided to buy a dehumidifier and we're so glad we did! Ours is a portable $200 model by Soleus and it dehumidifies our whole house (we do have a small house though, a little less than 800 square feet). The amount of water we collect every day in the dehumidifier is amazing! Absolutely no problem now in the winter with condensation. I also recommend making sure you are always running your kitchen and bathroom fans when needed (even well after, just to make sure you're removing all moisture). You don't want mold around, especially with a new baby. Congrats and good luck!

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M.E.

answers from San Francisco on

Our sky light in our bathroom drips in the cold weather. Our feeling is that the only solution is to replace it with a dual pane window, which we haven't done yet. I think you should consult with a place that replaces windows and they could let you know if there is anything (besides replacing the windows) that would solve your problem. Michele

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K.B.

answers from Salinas on

A crack in the combustion chamber of a furnace will cause condensation on your windows. It is due to the release of carbon monoxide into the house. Have your heating system checked out...it could be a dangerous situation. (I worked for a Heating contractor for 12 years)

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J.P.

answers from San Francisco on

L.,
We had the same problems. We moved into a 50 yr old home with single pane windows surrounded by aluminum frames which have lost their seal. We were mopping up water from our window sills daily (from condensation) and cleaning mold from around the windows frequently. We also had mold growing on our new custom-made cellular blinds (ugh). We even invested in air purifiers for each room and placed them near the windows. NO LUCK WITH ANYTHING! We had a hard time scraping up the money but we finally replaced the windows/doors with new double pane windows and sliding glass doors. Now- no condensation, no water,no mold, and no more drafty home.
My biggest advice is DON'T STRESS OUT TOO MUCH! I am a mom of a happy (generally) and healthy 3 yr old boy and expecting another baby in Feb. My son survived a small apartment for the first 10 months and a wet-moldy home for almost 2 more years. Babies/toddlers are amazingly adaptable and want most of all your time and affection. There's always something to deal with as home owners. The home is going nowhere but the babes grow quickly. Relax (as much as possible, enjoy the baby and you will all be fine.
J.

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A.C.

answers from San Francisco on

We live in the South Bay in a 22-year old house and had the same problems you describe. Our windows were original to the house and were already useless. Last month, we finally got energy-efficient double-paned replacement windows and a new sliding door. The problem is gone! I'm sorry, my solution is very expensive ($6K), but it is the solution to your problem.

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K.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi L.. Have you had anyone out to figure out why there is so much moisture and condensation?? Is it in every room or just the one room?? Is it all the time or just certain times of the day? Do you open the windows during the day to let the rooms "air out"? You could also call PG &E. They can check for you and help you "weatherize" your house. Congratulations on the impending birth of your first born! That is SO exciting!!!!! K. San Leandro

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