Home Maintenance Tips Portland Home Inspection

Feeling Foggy About Broken Thermal Seals?

picture of foggy home window fogginess is caused by a broken thermal seal

Double Paned Windows

Double-paned windows are found in all new homes, and often in older homes that have had the original single pane windows replaced. You have probably noticed that sometimes you will see a window that looks foggy from moisture between the panes. This fogginess is caused by a broken thermal seal. West-facing windows are most susceptible because the extreme temperature changes create a lot of expansion and contraction. But a broken seal can happen anywhere in the home.

You Can’t Always Tell

Standards of practice do not require home inspectors to point out broken thermal seals, but I do call them out when they are visible. Depending on the weather conditions, a failing seal may not cause any fogging at all on the day I am there. An inspection is only a snapshot in time. In my home, I have a patio slider with a broken thermal seal. Some days it is almost entirely fogged, and other days it is clear. When I do see even one fogged window, I recommend having a window specialist evaluate all of the windows.

No Cause for Alarm

Luckily, the issue is mainly cosmetic. I have some clients say fogged windows would really disturb them. I also had a client say that, because she had poor eyesight, she would not bother to replace the glass in a huge picture window, even though it had a beautiful, expansive view! There is a big range in what impacts people in their homes. Also, while a broken thermal seal slightly reduces the energy efficiency, it is generally not enough to have the replacement pay back the energy loss.

Not Expensive but Can Add Up

Most of the time you can get away with replacing just the double pane glass, not the entire window. You will want to consult a window specialist and get bids. The national average cost of replacing a typical window is $150 to $300 for just the glass unit. Not such a big expense when there are just one or two. However, it may become an item to negotiate when there are many windows, if a window is large, or if it is a custom shape. To fix just the glass in 10 windows could cost $1500 – $3000.

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At Check It Out Home Inspection Services, we offer all the home inspection services you would expect; Electrical, Plumbing, Roof, Structure, Interior, Exterior, HVAC, Garage, and Grounds (see our full list of home inspection Services). We also offer One-Stop Shopping where you can schedule sewer scoping, radon testing, and oil tank searches 24/7 with a single click or call.

I look forward to meeting you at the inspection! -Karen


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