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Window Pains: Cloudy Windows

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition – William Arthur Ward.

But what happens when your windows are cloudy? You might think your cloudy window is just a cosmetic issue.

One good way to keep the neighbors from peeping.

Unfortunately, cloudy windows are not just cosmetic issues – cloudy windows are defective windows. Clouds are just symptoms of an underlying defect, the result of which is that the window no longer provides its intended thermal performance.

The Value of Multiple Panes

Double or triple multi-pane windows were developed to improve upon thermal performance of older, single-pane windows. Double-pane windows represent the vast majority of installed residential windows.  The panes of glass are separated by a spacer and filled with air or another gas to reduce heat transfer. Double-pane windows double the R-value of a single-pane window (R-value measures the performance of a specific material, such as insulation, to reduce the transfer of heat).

The Pains of Multiple Panes
Wait a second, is that pixie dust?

Your windows are subject to large swings in temperature, humidity, and pressure depending on where you live, time of year, time of day, and direction (more sun vs. less sun).  Over time, seals between window panes can fail, which permits humid air to enter the gap between the panes.  As moisture condenses and evaporates, deposits inside the window create clouds. Often, a cloudy window defect is very evident; other times, clouded windows won’t be obvious without certain atmospheric conditions.

What to Do?
  1. Replace the defective panes of glass. If you’re a DIY-er, you may be capable of making this repair. You may also think you’d be a good heart surgeon because you consistently kicked butt in the Operation board game when you were a kid.  Trust us, leave this to a window surgeon – the panes of glass must be special ordered and sealed from the factory in order to provide the same thermal performance as the original window.

    Think you’re a surgeon? Don’t operate on your windows.
  2. Replace the sash. What’s a sash, you ask? You know, the part of the window that slides up and down and that incorporates the window panes.  Replacing a sash is more expensive than replacing a pane, but it will be a better fix for a longer term. Additionally, even if you wanted to replace the panes, some sashes do not allow for replacing just the glass. Never fear, replacement window companies produce sashes which fit most common window assemblies.
  3. Replace the entire window assembly. This is overkill because it’s expensive, but it provides the highest success rate. We would only recommend replacing the entire window structure if there are clouds plus other problems (e.g., deterioration, etc.).