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By Jennifer Noonan

Source: Flickr Creative Commons / Lara604

Source: Flickr Creative Commons / Lara604

I remember waking up as a kid on wintry mornings to find frost on my bedroom window obscuring the trees and yard.

Those were traditional six-over-six windows, with individual panes of glass secured between muntins. With newer construction and the advancement in double-paned window technology, window frost is not as commonplace as it used to be. But it still occurs in plenty of older homes, and while frost formations can be stunningly beautiful, they are not something a homeowner should welcome.

Frost forms on windows when they are exposed to cold air on the outside, moist air on the inside. Moisture in the room’s air (water vapor) is drawn to the window pane, and when the outside surface temperature lowers past the dew point, the water vapor solidifies into liquid. That liquid then freezes into ice crystals, and you’ve got your frost.

Frost can cause damage. As it melts, it transfers moisture to whatever is next to it. If that’s a wooden window, it can discolor varnish and crack paint, or even damage the wood. Frost can also melt off single-paned windows and seep down into a wall. If moisture is not handled swiftly and completely, mold can begin to grow.

So, how can you prevent frost?

  • Weatherize your windows when it gets colder. Make sure storm windows are installed properly and caulk any gaps in the seals.
  • Run a dehumidifier. If you can keep the inside air drier, frost will be less likely to form.
  • Keep your home sufficiently warm, especially at night, to keep frost from forming. It might be worth putting a space heater in a room that is particularly prone to collecting frost on windows to see if that solves the problem.
  • If all else fails, you may choose to replace single-paned windows with double-paned windows. The barrier of dead air between the double panes helps to slow down the transfer of heat/cold.

Being a responsible homeowner means letting go of some romantic ideas about nature, like the beauty of frost on your windows in the morning. But don’t worry. If you’re really missing nature’s artwork, I’m sure you can find some on your windshield as you head out to work or the store!

Related:

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

About the Author

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila's Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.

  • Darren Archer

    Some great tips in here. One thing I would say is that unless you don’t mind a sky high energy bill, I would not recommend running a space heater in a room around the clock!

  • Emma William

    Nice tips! The double paned windows will be a better choice of
    avoiding frost as it exhibits better insulating property. I was suffering from
    a frost problem and due to this window varnishing got discolor. Window Choice
    from Ontario
    suggested me to replace with double paned windows. Now my window is frost free and also eases to clean.

  • Emma William

    The double paned windows will be a better choice of avoiding frost as it exhibits better insulating property. I was suffering from a frost problem and due to this window varnishing got discolor. Window Choice from Ontario suggested me to replace with double paned windows. Now my window is frost free and also very eases to clean.

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