Mold in or around windows is not caused by the type of window frames.
As houses have become more energy efficient, they simply trap more moisture in our homes. Moisture looks for a cool flat surface, aluminium window frames and glass are a cool flat surface, so this “trapped” moisture can show up here. It can show here, it is not created here! Vinyl window frames have little to no insulating qualities, which creates a lower temperature around them, but the condensation does not show up directly on them. Aluminium frame do not transfer moisture from outside!
In most cases, the moisture near windows that allows mold to grow is due to condensation on the window glass or frames. This is becoming a more common problem in homes, which are now required to be highly energy efficient. The same construction technology and code requirements that keep heated air or cooled air inside also traps moisture inside.
Moisture is produced from a variety of sources including bathing activities, cooking, clothes laundering, human respiration, humidifiers, slab foundations, or construction defects to a name a few. It is necessary to periodically open windows and use exhaust fans to regularly prevent this moisture from accumulating in the air indoors, which leads to elevated relative humidity levels and possible mold growth. Relative humidity is a measure of the moisture content in the air expressed as a percentage of the amount of moisture that the air is capable of holding at a particular temperature. Indoor relative humidity levels should be maintained below 50% to minimize the potential for mold growth or other indoor air quality problems.
Because warm air can hold more water than cold air, when warm, moist air is cooled, condensation occurs. The temperature at which this occurs is called the dew point. The dew point is often reached at windows when warm air inside comes in contact with a cold glass or metal surface on the window. This is usually more common in the winter time and is most prevalent during the early morning hours when outside temperatures are at their lowest. Much of this condensation quickly evaporates as outside temperatures increase during the day unless the indoor air is already very humid.
While some condensation is likely to occur at most windows during some parts of the year, there are several ways to control the level of condensation that develops. These include:
Increasing Air Circulation at the Window Surface
Increasing the air circulation at the window surface can help to prevent warm moist air from becoming stagnant around the cold window surface where the condensation can occur. Air circulation can be increased through the operation of ceiling fans at night in rooms with the most glass exposure. Air circulation can also be increased by reducing the amount of window covering over windows at night or during the winter; or by using window coverings that are made of breathable or porous materials. Condensation is often more significant on windows that have heavy metal or wood blinds or shutters.
Opening blinds and shutters during periods of decreased outside temperatures or raising mini-blinds at least 2 inches above the window sill will also help to increase air circulation at the window, if changing the window coverings is not an option.
Reduce the Level of Moisture in the Air
Reducing the level of moisture in the air will help to keep relative humidity levels low and help to prevent condensation. Moisture can be removed from the air by use of exhaust fans, opening windows and ventilating with outdoor air or through operation of a dehumidifier. Never operate humidifiers indoors, which only add moisture to the air unless you take measures to maintain or control relative humidity levels. A hygrometer, or relative humidity meter, can help to monitor relative humidity levels so occupants can ensure they stay within normal limits. In the winter time when buildings typically receive less ventilation with outdoor air, a hygrometer can alert occupants to when relative humidity levels increase to the point where it is necessary to open a window or operate an exhaust fan. After showering or bathing, either the exhaust fan in bathrooms should be run or the windows should remain open until the relative humidity levels decrease below 50%.
Manually Remove Standing Water on Window Surfaces
At times it may not be possible to effectively control relative humidity levels or the level of air circulation and condensation will still occur. In these instances, it may be necessary to remove the condensation manually by wiping with a dry cloth. This is generally not the preferred method of control for building occupants, but it is effective. It is usually not necessary to wipe up condensation on all windows or on every day. Most condensation that develops will evaporate naturally. It is typically on north facing windows or windows that are in shaded areas for longer periods where the moisture takes longer to dry. Condensation will also generally be worse on days where outdoor temperatures are lowest, and it is on these days that wiping window sills is often necessary.