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fozzy40 01-17-2009 05:11 AM

Please Help! Ice inside of my condo!

I just recently bought a condo in downtown Chicago. The south side of our unit has a great view of the city i.e. a big sliding glass door that is surrounded by more window. Since the temperature has dropped, I've been noticing a fair amount of condensation forming on the inside of our unit. I expected some of that because of the hugh temperature gradient. However, there is literally ice forming on the inside framing of the sliding glass door. I've have to put towels at the base of the windows and sliding glass door because the condensation has been dripping and ruining my hardwood floor adjacent to the window.

I spoke with my building supervisor who said that there is probably a leak and that I have to caulk the outside of the window frame. However, since it's so cold that the caulk will not adhere. That being said, they said that I have to basically deal with the towel solution until it gets warm enough to do something about it.

Is this true? Is there something that I can do?

Thank you.

inspectorD 01-17-2009 07:01 AM

There is not much to do except what you are doing right now.
Its so darn cold out here, -10 here right now. You can hang a quilted blanket across the window, it will slow down the amount of direct hot to cold condensation. When you have great differences in tempurature, no amount of caulking will fix it. It's the hot day with a cold drink in your hand. Condensation wins.

fozzy40 01-18-2009 08:25 AM

Thank you for the reply. Any other suggestions regarding my floor?

inspectorD 01-18-2009 12:11 PM

The only thing that may help is to stick a small fan in front of the window, or a small electric space heater. If you hang a quilt on the window, it may just slow down the condensation and not be as wet.
Good luck.

Quattro 01-20-2009 09:44 AM

D is right. Either get warm air circulating on the cold surface, or isolate the moisture from the surface. That's why adding a plastic barrier in the winter (window film) helps a lot. The surface is still cold, but the moisture from the house doesn't make it through the you get little or no condensation. But, then you have plastic over your door, should you want to use it.

I have this great plan to build little solar-powered fans that mount to the top center of my casement windows. The idea is that the batteries are charging during sunlight hours, but the fan is off (the sun naturally warms the window surface and keeps condensation from forming). During the night, the fans come on and blow the warmer air downward across the window surface.

I haven't really done much work on this, but I did a proof-of-concept using a small computer fan and a 12V AC-DC converter (wall wart). It works. Now if I could just get the sun to power the system, I'd make a bunch of them and integrate them into the window casing somehow.

OR, just put the damn plastic up! :-)

fozzy40 01-24-2009 01:09 AM

Just to give a visual, here is a link with some pics of the problem.

travelover 01-24-2009 06:19 AM

Fred, could you build a large wooden frame with plexiglass windows to cover this window and door throughout the winter? If you built it in in sections it would be easier to remove and install.

You could try covering this area with that inexpensive plastic sheeting type of inside storm window material to see if it works before you make something more substantial.

Something like this:

Building An "Interior Storm Window" To Reduce Draftiness

I also found this place that makes them :

inspectorD 01-24-2009 06:19 AM

That is condensation. It may look like something has a leak somewhere, however it may not be the case at all.
With metal or aluminum Windows, they are notorious for creating these issues..The windows are large, the top sections have more heat around them because they are up higher,therefor they create a larger temperature differential. That is why it looks like a leak running down the door. You need to get that temperature differential down, either you need to lower the thermostat, UGH or you need to create a barrier. A fan will also help to carry away some of that moisture. Ever notice your car defroster never condensates on the inside of the window when the blower is on it and the window warms up? You also may have alot of moisture in that building, that is another issue which needs looking into.
Where is the condo community on this? Your not the only one with this problem. Contact a home inspector with a background in this area if you need professional help. :)

fozzy40 01-24-2009 07:18 AM

According to the building management, my unit seems to be the only one that is having this problem currently. I spoke with a tenant that has been here for 5 years and they have never had such a problem. Since posting, I've contacted my insurance company who have reaffirmed that there is significant water damage to my hardwood floors.

Are there conducting strips that can defrost my windows like in a car?

travelover 01-24-2009 08:19 AM

Do you have a source of humidity in your condo, like large aquariums? It might be useful to measure your humidity level. If it above 40 to 50%, you could run a dehumidifier, though generally winter time humidity is low.

I agree with the other posters that your problem is humidity condensing on the window. You either need to heat the cold surface (fan or electric heater), reduce humidity (find source and correct or run dehumidifier), or separate the cold window and the humidity (my suggestion above for inside storm window).

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