custom heat wire install

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  #1  
Old 10-21-14, 05:20 AM
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custom heat wire install

I have a rather unique freeze problem that might be solved with heat cable. My house has a large bow window that is wood inside with a vinyl exterior. The window panes are constructed with an aluminum frame beneath the wood frame. In the winter months water condenses on the aluminum frame and freezes overnight. The morning sun melts the ice and actually leaves a small puddle at the base of each window pane (there are 6 panes). Needless to say this will ruin the wood interior.

I have tried insulation and reducing moisture in the room with a dehumidifier. This has not stopped the freeze especially on cold nights. I was hoping someone here would could advise as to whether it would be possible to install a heat wire on the aluminum frame that would keep the metal warm enough to prevent condensation and freezing. The aluminum frame is 1/2 inch wide. The 6 panes are 56" x 20" and the window total width is 12 feet. I guess the trick would be to warm the metal without scorching the wood and running the heat wire from metal pane to metal pane.

Thanks.
Al
 
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Old 10-21-14, 06:15 AM
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Heating of the metal window frames will not stop condensation on the glass window panes.

If you arrange fans to keep air moving against the window, then condensation will be very much reduced. Have you ever noticed that dew occurs more outdoors on calm nights? (You will increase heating costs.)
 
  #3  
Old 10-21-14, 06:43 AM
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Hi and thanks for the reply. Using the dehumidifier keeps the window panes mostly dry. The problem is condensation on the metal frame underneath the wood trim. Condensation / ice forms on the metal frame.
 
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Old 10-21-14, 08:10 AM
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Keeping the aluminum from freezing will not stop the condensation. You'll just have moisture with no ice. Evidently there is no thermal break in the window frame and that is why the aluminum gets so cold. Have you checked the actual humidity inside the house? A combination of reducing the humidity and increasing airflow across the glass is the only solution I see without replacing the emtire window.
 
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Old 10-21-14, 11:06 AM
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Thanks CasualJoe. I have a dehumidifier in the room and keep the level as low as 25 at times. This has reduced the amount of moisture that forms on the metal but doesn't eliminate it. I was thinking that I could reduce the condensation on the metal to near zero since it is virtually inside the house. If I can get the temperature of the metal surface up a few degrees it might work. Not sure air flow will effect it too much since the metal frame is behind the wood trim. Thanks.
 
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Old 10-21-14, 05:23 PM
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Keeping the aluminum from freezing will not stop the condensation.
He wants to keep it warm enough to stop condensation. That will be near room temperature. I don't think there is an easy answer for this. Have you inspected weather stripping to see if it is still in good condition?
 
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Old 10-22-14, 12:26 PM
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I was hoping I didn't have to get all the way to room temperature by using the dehumidifier and keeping the humidity level down.

The window is only 6 years old. The weather stripping is good. I have tried adding additional insulation behind the wood trim on the interior of the window. The problem is that the metal frame is integral within the structure and insulated on the exterior by the vinyl only and in the interior by the wood trim. I have been back and forth with the manufacturer. They gave up after several email messages and a phone conversation. I believe the problem is in the design. From the responses so far it looks like a heat wire is not an option. Thanks to all for your comments.
 
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