Moisture inside a double-glazed window pane

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One of the windows in my new apartment has moisture between the surfaces of the lower pane. There appears to be a lot of water in there -- enough to form a film over nearly the entire pane, which is thick enough to interfere with the view outside.
I researched this and learned that the moisture is caused by a leak in the sealed space between the surfaces, which has allowed the insulating gas to escape and water vapor to enter. The only solution to this is supposed to be to replace the pane.
My research did not tell me what to do if I'm renting and the required replacement must be done by the landlord. I have spoken to the property manager about this, but she evidently has never encountered the situation before, and has no idea how serious it is. Come to that, neither do I. What is it, really: a mere nuisance, or a potentially serious failure?
I assume that any problems caused by the moisture will appear in the winter. I'm in Chicago, where temperatures are mostly below freezing for about three months, and annual minimums of about -15F are common.
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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

The issues are:
1 - It looks like hell
2 - The energy efficiency of the window is shot and it will waste a lot more energy than a window with a proper seal, which should be a concern in your area.
3 - With very cold temps and poor insulation, you will get condensation on the inside. Depending on where this accumulates, it can destroy paint, window sills, etc.
The only solution is to replace it.
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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

It is a nuisance and it reduces the insulating ability of the window. In any case, I would consider it something that any landlord should be replacing. You did rent with the expectations of being able to see out your windows did you not?

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Joseph Meehan

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get enough water in there and cold winter feeze the window can actually shatterL(
There are local glass shops that you take the window out, they are usually easily removed, early in the AM by late afternoon they replace the sealed unit its not expensive had a couple replaced for about a hundred bucks. there are also window companies who visit and measure the glass, return later and install the new sealed unit.
its no biggie at all, just a nuisance the screws holding the frame together rust and can be a nuisance to get lose
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The windows may be under a warranty so the lanlord should be told. They may not be Argon filled even if they are at most you loose 1R out of R3. Mainly they just look bad with condensation.
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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

She's bullshitting you of course. She'd have to have been blind from birth not to have ever seen a fogged up double pane window and know that they are abhorrent to look at (or through.)
You are stuck in a typical tenant landlord situation where the landlord will probably drag his/her heels forever and it may just be less painfull for you to pay a glass company to replace the sealed unit and get on with life.
I'd send the landlord a letter requesting replacement of the window and if they don't get to it in a month, then have it done yourself, keep the receipt, and when you eventually move out you can decide whether it would be worth your time and trouble taking the landlord to small claims court to recover what you spent. That's assuming the statute of limitations for such things in your state didn't run out by then.
Just my .02,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
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You would loose in court if you did a repair yourself that was cosmetic, Even if they were Argon its not going to get you anywhere in court
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m Ransley wrote:

It's not a cosmetic repair. The insulating properties of the window have been compromised. Who is paying the energy bills...?
R
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The windows might very well be No Argon, it is common in Chicago for lanlords to buy Non Argon. Even if it was Argon filled you are talking about a window size and only reducing the R value by 1R. Now do a payback on 1R 1 window glass. It will be maybe 40 years. And can you prove that 60% of the Argon does not remain, No, you will loose in court.
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m Ransley wrote:

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Jeffry Wisnia
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m Ransley wrote:

I'd say you'd be correct on that point at least 99 times out of 100.
Which is why I put that, "decide whether it would be worth your time and trouble", in my post. <G>
Jeff
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We just put in 120 Non Argon replacement windows in an apt building in Chicago, why non Argon, because its up for sale.
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On Tue, 25 Jul 2006 12:33:45 -0400, Jeff Wisnia

Please do not take offense at this: you have no basis for making that statement, and you are entirely mistaken. The landlord and property manager have both been extremely cooperative in other respects, and I have no reason to suspect either one of dragging her heels, feet, or any other body parts.
For example, I pointed out a dead tree on the property that the property manager was not aware of, and yesterday she had tree cutters come out and take it down. She even called me in advance to let me know when they would do the work.
Please take my original statement at face value: the property manager probably has not encountered this situation before, and simply does not know how to evaluate it, any more than I do.
I suggested to her that we have her repair person look at the window when he comes out here to work on other problems. (I gave her a fairly extensive list, and she has indicated that I should expect most of them to be approved.) The responses to my question here have gone all over the lot, so that is probably the best approach.
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Jonathan Sachs wrote:

<snipped> No offense taken.
My cynicism got the better of me, and I'm happy to apologize for jumping to that conclusion and defer to your judgement of the person you're dealing with.
It's been at least 40 years since We've lived in a rented apartment, so I could be out of date too. But, we've been renting office space in a number of different buildings for the past 30 years and I can't say that our landlords in those places have been very responsive about requests to take care of little problems.
Ex: I called our present landlord's office three weeks ago to report that the drain in the middle of the floor in the men's room on our level had lost it's slotted cover plate and there was a 3" hole there just waiting to catch someone's heel and perhaps cause a skull cracking fall. So far nothing's been done.
The urinal in that same men's room has had an extremely slow drain for all of the nine years we've been in the building, it's either limed up or otherwise restricted and it would overflow onto the floor if the flush valve hung open. The landlord's solution was to throttle down the valve ahead of the flush valve so that just a trickle comes out when it's open, not hardly enough to flush stuff away, so there's always "yellow water" in it with an accompanying smell.
You may well live in a kindler and gentler part of the country, but here in Red Sox Nation it's every man for himself, and I don't expect too much satisfaction from a landlord over stuff like that. I live with it and don't get my shorts in a knot, but I can't help noticing that it's not the way I was brought up to treat others.
Jeff
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On Tue, 25 Jul 2006 12:33:45 -0400, Jeff Wisnia

WRONG.... I was a landlord for many years. A common residential rental lease does not allow tenants to do work on their rental without permission from the landlord. You (the tenant) could actually be evicted or even sued by the landlord for doing it without their consent, even if you paid for the work. Or, more likely the landlord will say thank you for doing the repair and you wont get a cent.
When I leased, I used the standard lease, but I wrote that tenants could do minor repairs if they chose, but NOT if the cost of the part was more than $25. I even told them that I would reimburse the cost of the part if they gave me the receipt along with their rent payment. That was usually to my advantage because it eliminated all those aggravating calls for minor things such as a loose door hinge, dripping faucet washer, bad toilet flapper, etc. If the repair was major and/or costly, they had to contact me first.
So, I got these tenants that decided that the were going to do whatever they wanted. The said the hot water was not hot as it used to be. They claimed they called me and got my answering machine. That's possible, but they never left a message. Instead they replaced the electric water heater without notifying me. Not only did they replace it, but they bought the most expensive 50 gallon tank they could get to replace the 30 gallon tank that I had just installed about 2 years ago.
If this 2 year old heater needed anything, it may have needed a new element, which is entirely possible. I would have happily gone there and replaced the element at a cost of $20 for parts. Instead, they bought a $400 water heater. In the process they ripped out half the copper piping in the basement and replaced it with pvc pipe, because they claimed they could not solder the old pipe. The total for materials was almost $600, and they wanted an additional $500 for their labor. I should mention that their monthly rent was $450. So they said they would just not pay any rent for the next two and a half months.
I told them that if they did not pay their rent, I'd be happy to send them an eviction notice, but I told them they could deduct the amount of $20 which is what an element costs, and gave them the name of the store where I priced it. They claimed that there was something else wrong with the heater. That's when I stuck their lease in their face and made them read the part about tenants not being allowed to do their own repairs if the cost of parts exceeds $25. They were angry about it, but they paid their rent minus the $20, after I told them that I can not test the old heater since they disconnected it. That I did not want a 50 gallon tank, and that I really dislike pvc pipe, and if they wanted to push the issue, I'd sue them for wrecking my copper pipe without permission.
Just for the heck of it, I took the old water heater to my shop. I filled it with a garden hose and wired it to my breaker box. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Apparently they just wanted a bigger water heater and thought they'd get away with this. Their expensive water heater stayed in that house when I sold the place. The so called "defective" heater was reused in another house, and is still working today.
Mark
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Jonathan,
Depending on how the glazing failed, there are services that may be able to repair it in place for considerably less than the cost of replacement, for example:
http://www.ccwwi.com /
others will be listed in the Yellow Pages.
You landlord may be more willing to fix this if he or she is aware there may be a lower cost option than complete replacement.
Michael Thomas Paragon Home Inspection, LLC Chicago, IL mdt@paragoninspectsDOTcom 847-475-5668
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MDT at Paragon Home Inspections, LLC wrote:

I have stretched an extra year or so out of fogged up double glazed windows by drilling a few 1/4" holes through the outer pane at its very bottom, using a glass drill bit in a hand electric drill, with a steady hand.
The double glazing will still supply a good amount of thermal insulation. Remember, we got by with "storm windows" for a long time before "Thermopane" hit the market, and they sure weren't "sealed".
It is truly a hack way to repair them, but the fog will go away. However scum and film will deposit on the inside of the glass sooner or later and look lousy.
Drilling holes appears to be the similar to the way the site you referenced does it, though they mention some sort of "valve" they put in the hole. Maybe that's similar to the ones on those foil coffee bean bags, it lets air out, but not in.
Jeff
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I've seen recommendations about drilling holes, injecting some silica gel (you know, the stuff in little packets they put in the packaging for electronics), and sealing the pane up again with silicone caulk.
I'm sure it works if you use enough "unused or regenerated" silica gel, but unless you've sealed the original leak, it only delays the inevitable.

As long as you don't have significant air circulation through the holes, it'll still have the same thermal insulation value (at least when compared to thermopane that doesn't have argon or the like). Basic air-filled thermopane has been around a lot longer than the new-fangled argon/et. al. filled versions.
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It's primarily a cosmetic issue. You might be losing an insignificant bit of insulation value, or it _might_ in rare circumstances be symptomatic of something wrong with the frame (eg: the frame is being twisted or compressed) but other than that, it's just a nuisance.
Having someone who understands window installations check the window out may be a good idea. Eg: for glass warping (frame stress on thermopane), or visible cracks. If you do have glass warping, having someone check out the framing would be a good idea.
From your other posting, the landlord seems like the good sort, and will replace it simply because of their pride in their building, tenant relations or whatever.

Except in _extreme_ circumstances, the worst that will happen is the condensation inside the window turns to frost. The amount of moisture is very small (hence won't fracture the thermopane) almost entirely isolated from anything that can be damaged by water (glass and aluminum perimeter), and doesn't really indicate anything serious.
It's certainly not an emergency/habitability issue.
Researching non-replacement options and mentioning them to the building management is the responsible thing to do, just mention that they're unlikely to be permanent. Management may choose to delay full replacement til a more opportune time, and keeping good relations may include accepting such a compromise.
[In other words, if building management was otherwise good, I'd not make a big stink out of it. Think of it on the same level as repainting the lobby because of a couple of minor scuff marks.]
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Ok, Mr. Cheapfix here. 1. hairdryer perched to blow on pane for a couple of hours to force out moisture. Allow to cool thoroughly before next step to ensure you get it all out. 2. Try to find origin of leak, apply silicone caulk as suggested by someone else.
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