4 Season Patio Room Condensation

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  #1  
Old 11-26-04, 08:40 AM
ejm36
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4 Season Patio Room Condensation

We just had a new 4 season patio room installed and unfortunately did not do our homework first. The company advertised their room as 4 season and gave us a long sales pitch complete with references and pictures of their work, but we have been having condensation issues with the walls. The room is approx. 12'X24' made of aluminum with knee walls, and double pane glass windows. Our plan was to install electric baseboard heat to keep it at a constant temperature of 55 degrees and a gas stove to heat it up when using the room. We have been doing the electrical work and using a portable electric forced hot air heater in the room and have noticed when we do, we get the condensation on the walls. After doing research and talking with other companies, we have found that for a 4 season aluminum room, a thermal break is necessary to keep the inside walls from getting too cold. When I asked our company about this, they said that our walls have an insulation rating of R13 and the roof R22, but they do not use thermal breaks. They also insist that this is a 4 season room and once I get my baseboard heat and carpeting installed and keep it at a constant temperature, the condensation issue will go away. I am a bit reluctant to do this because the inside walls seem very cold and my impression is that if I add heat with the cold inside walls, I will just be creating more condensation. I live in Pennsylvania and the winters can get quite cold. Can this room possibly work as a 4 season room and will installing the electric baseboard heat and keeping it a constant temperature cure my condensation problems? Also, with the insulation I have, will it be cost effective to heat this room? By the way, the room has 3 outside walls, the fourth wall is the back of our house and it is entered through a sliding glass door. Any advice is very much appreciated.

Thanks, ejm
 
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Old 11-26-04, 10:27 AM
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In a northern climate, a sunroom with insulation but without a thermal break is actually a 3-season room. Add a thermal break and you can achieve an "extended-season" room, but not a 4-season room. (In reality, no room which is 65% glass or more, regardless of thermal quality, can be called a 4-season room.) Additionally, a sunroom should be heated only with electric-based, non-permanent supplemental heating, and not combustion-based heating (such as a gas stove) to avoide condensation. During cold winters in a 3-season room, you will get condensation with any heating.
 
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Old 11-26-04, 11:51 AM
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Razz is right.

Additionally, it's going to cost a small fortune to try keeping this room at 55 degrees in the winter. And the condensation will eventually damage the wall panels.

Personally, I treat mine more like a covered, enclosed patio in the winter. Forget trying to heat it, and I leave a couple of the protected windows open pretty much year 'round. (I did install a ceiling fan, which I use a lot on the clear days. Once that room warms up to 80 degrees in the afternoon, I open the slider -- keep the screen closed -- into the house and turn on the ceiling fan. It will heat about 1/3 of the house!)
 
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Old 11-28-04, 05:29 PM
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The "R" values for the walls and ceiling sound like that of the walls in your house, not the glass panes in your sunroom. I don't know of any glass window that gets even half way to R13.

Down here in NC even dual pane glass windows with a thermal break, and low E coating, and argon filled will still develop condensation on the inside of the window. If you live anywhere colder I imagine you will end up seeing frost in another month.
 
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Old 11-28-04, 07:09 PM
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Pilot Dane,

When I read ejm36's post, I see that he is saying that the R value for the walls is R-13, and the roof panels are R-22. That would be correct for the wall panels of a 2" wall system, and correct for a 3" roof panel. Of course, the R value of the entire wall will be conciderably less -- he has about 65% of the wall that is glass, and at best that will be about an R-2. The entire wall MIGHT average out to something around R-5.

ejm36,

Trying to heat the room is going to result in condensation. Like I said, you will be better off just treating it like a covered, enclosed patio in the winter, and forget trying to heat it.
 
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Old 11-29-04, 04:40 PM
ejm36
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Gentlemen,

Thank you for all your informative reply's. It is very generous of you to offer your help and expertize in a forum like this. I am very grateful I stumbled across this little community, I only wish I would have found you before I purchased my room.

Lefty, the R factors I refer to are what the company rep quoted to me over the phone when I called to express my belief that the 4 season room they sold me wasn't really a 4 season room. He also told me they have many of the same rooms in the area which customers are using year round with a heat source. I asked him to provide me with a list of names, so I could contact them and see their rooms. So far, I am still waiting. He assured me (but not in writing) that the condensation problem will go away as soon as I get my baseboard heat and carpeting installed and get the room at a constant temperature. I have been very leary of this based on what you guys and others have said and it really seems to go against the laws of physics. To me, cold walls plus heat equals condensation. The 65% glass factor is probably pretty close, although I do have knee walls, a gable roof, and the area above the windows is not glass, but aluminum.

Another problem I had this weekend was with all the heavy rain we had here, the room had several spots were water leaked in under the channels. It is a pre-fab room with the walls layed in the tracks or channels on a concrete slab. It does not seem like they caulked enough under the track before they fastened it to the concrete and now they are trying to compensate for that with more caulk on the inside and outside. It had leaked right after installation and they sent a guy out who caulked around the inside and outside. That seemed to work until this past weekend. I called today to complain and they said they will get someone out to take a look at it. This has been the sunroom from hell. I had another contractor all set up to install the heat and the carpeting, but I cancelled that when all the condensation problems started. That's been about my luckiest decision so far, otherwise my carpeting would have been ruined also.

The problem I face now is the company rep is telling me to go ahead and install the carpeting and heat and this will solve my condensation problem. My feeling is, without a guarantee in writing, I'm not willing to take the chance of possibly ruining my carpeting and baseboard heat.

Again, thanks to everyone for their responses and I will try to keep you updated on things as they develope. I am hoping they are a good company and stand by their product. Unfortunately, so far in my dealings with them, they have not proved that to me.

ejm36
 
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Old 11-30-04, 06:26 PM
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ejm36 --

I install these rooms, or ones similar to what you have. Adding a heat source is only going to compound the condensation problem, NOT CURE IT!!

Leaks -- stay on the contractor about them. Installed properly, these rooms don't leak. Installed IMPROPERLY, they'll leak like a sieve!! (That's why the supplier will ONLY sell to properly trained and licensed installers -- they are NOT a DIY project, and the suppliers WON'T sell to the public.) And the fact that your room leaks is the source of the condensation. (Been there, done this!! E-mail me and I'll tell you about it.)

"R" factors -- like I said, the numbers you were told are good numbers -- FOR THE PANELS INVOLED. But they are not a good number for the wall as a whole (panels AND windows).
 
  #8  
Old 12-01-04, 04:13 PM
ejm36
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Lefty,

Our room was installed by a company that actually manufactures the room also, so there are no subs involved. The factory is located in another city, but they have several offices throughout the state. I would like to believe that the main office teaches all the branch offices the proper istallation technique.

They sent 2 guys out again today while I was at work to look at the room to try to determine where it is leaking. When I talked to them on the phone, the guy said that the concrete pad may be a bit sloped towards the room and this may be causing the water to get in under the channel. Near as I can tell, all they did was do a little more silicone caulking. Maybe I'll get some more out of them when I call them tomorrow morning.

I did try to send you an Email, but when I clicked on it I got the message "Sorry! That user has specified that they do not wish to receive emails".

ejm
 
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