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Reader asks for help about condensation issue

By February 16, 2008


A reader asks for your help with this condensation issue.

I live in a corner, ground floor unit of a condominium purchased approximately 6
months ago in Seattle. The condominium is a conversion, although it was never lived in after initially being built 4-5 years ago. One egress/fire escape path for the building runs adjacent to my unit, although one could exit around the other side of the building as well. As a result, the windows facing the egress are single pane with a steel frame with wire mesh embedded within in order to increase the strength of the wall in case of a fire.

As the temperature has declined over the past few months, these windows have developed such significant condensation that they literally weep rivulets of water. I had a couch pushed up against the wall and did not notice the issue until approximately a month and a half ago. As I was cleaning, I pulled the couch out and came upon a significant amount of black mold that had found a favorable home on account of the moisture. I also found water damage to the floor and baseboard from water run-off. Other windows in the room that are double paned do not have this issue. As I have inspected the window more carefully, I have noticed that the steel frame itself seems to be off of the wall a few centimeters, and I can clearly feel a breeze when I hold my hand near the frame.

It should be noted that nothing was said about the window by my inspector.

I called the company from which I purchased the unit initially and was told that they planned on remedying the situation. Recently, however, they contacted me and indicated that the Seattle building code precluded installation of a double paned window due to the egress. They have, therefore, proposed a ceiling fan, which will do nothing for a space < 700 feet, or a dehumidifier. However, when I called the fire marshall's office, the individual with whom I spoke said that fire code did not necessitate the type of window installed and that it could be switched to a double paned, vinyl frame window. Does anyone have any thoughts as to how I should proceed? I am somewhat unclear on where responsibility lies for this issue. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

I own and manage Urban Living, a boutique Seattle and Bellevue real estate brokerage. I love lofts, floating homes, new construction, and mid-century moderns, but I will help you buy or sell just about anything!

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