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What Are Basement Egress Windows and Do I Need One?

Imagine being stuck in your basement during a fire that prevents you from going up the stairs or out the door. How are you going to get out? That’s where egress windows come into play.

They are essential components for safety when it comes to your home because they can provide an emergency exit in situations like the one previously mentioned. Egress windows also have numerous other benefits that can add to the comfort and value of your home.

To assist you in your decision of adding an egress window to your basement we’re going to inform you of what they are, the benefits of having one, and whether it can be a do it yourself project or if this is one best left to the professionals.

What is an Egress Window?

looking down into a neglected

The term “egress” means to go out of or leave. Egress windows provide an exit during emergency situations. They legally have to be big enough for a large adult male to fit through to escape.

They are typically required in building codes when finishing a basement and are accompanied by a ladder with steps to provide a safe and secure escape.

When constructing a new home, egress windows are also a required component of every room designated for sleeping. If you have an older home, you most likely don’t have one in your bedroom and possibly your basement either. If not, it would be an intelligent choice to add one to ensure every occupant of your home can escape should an unfortunate situation strike unexpectedly.

While safety is the primary goal in mind when installing egress windows, it’s not the only benefit they offer.

Benefits of Egress Windows

well lit basement with egress window

Egress windows are a desired featured among homeowners. It’s no wonder why with all the benefits they bring to the table. When you choose to install these windows you can look forward to:

  • Natural Light: Egress windows are required to be large and therefore provide a significant amount of natural light to an ordinarily dark and dingy basement. This advantage can be especially appealing if you have or intend on having a bedroom in your basement.  
  • Safety: The design of egress windows is for safety. They are intended to provide an escape route in case of an emergency that prevents you from accessing the higher levels of your house. They have measurement guidelines that allow it to serve its purpose and are a smart feature to add if your basement doesn’t have any escape routes.
  • Added Square Footage: Egress windows can increase the value of your home by adding extra square footage. While they come with a price tag, by increasing the dimensions of your home it allows you to get the money you spent back if you ever sell your house.
  • Staying Up to Code: All finished basements with habitable areas such as bedrooms are required to have an egress window according to the International Code Council.
  • Beauty: From the outside, an egress window can also add to your home’s decor. You can purchase building materials that match the design of your house depending on your budget.

How to Determine If I Need an Egress Window

basement with no window

If you have an older house, you might have a window in the basement, but it’s likely not big enough to qualify as an egress window. According to the International Residential Code (IRC), the window must meet the following requirements:

  • The window sill can’t exceed 44” from the floor.
  • The minimum opening area must be at least 5.7 square feet.
  • Opening height has to be at least 24 inches.
  • Minimum opening width is 20 inches.

You may have to have a window well or area well. The wells are commonly required when the window sill falls below the ground. You’ll have to provide a ladder so that you can safely climb out of the well onto higher land. Both the well and the ladder have specific dimensions:

The well must measure horizontally by 9 square feet and have a horizontal projection of 36 inches.

  • If your window well is deeper than 44 inches, you’re required to have a ladder permanently attached. It can intrude into the well up to 6”.
  • You should have 18” in stepping distance between the rungs. The rungs have to be 12” in width and protrude a minimum of three inches but no more than six.

If you don’t have at least one window in your basement or if you do, but it doesn’t meet the requirements above, then you need an egress window. They have many perks but the main one is safety, and that’s the most significant priority when it comes to your home.

Should I Use a Professional?

Man replacing the old pebbles in an egress window

Installing an egress window is a huge task that requires more than two hands. You’ll need access to the proper equipment for cutting through concrete in your basement as well as several other tools and the correct knowledge to correctly complete the job.

Research your town’s building codes before beginning any renovations on your house and ensure that you are installing them in compliance with the code specific guidelines. To ensure the proper completion, we recommend consulting a professional for your egress window installation. Our staff at Basement Repair Specialist takes pride in doing quality installations and going above and beyond our customer’s expectations. Call us today for a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Egress windows provide multiple benefits for your home. They not only provide a safe exit in case of emergency but also add value, beauty, natural lighting and more. These windows can transform your basement from its standard dank room to one that you’ll look forward to using for years to come.

Egress windows are required in new building codes but should be included in older homes as well. Whether you have a window or not, if it doesn’t match the regulations, it doesn’t count as an egress window, and it would be a smart decision to install one.

While you can complete the job on your own, it’s much easier and safer to hire a professional. At Basement Repair Specialist we provide quality egress window installation. We want you to have nothing but the best experience.

Call us to get started on providing your home one of the essential safety features it can have and giving you some peace of mind.