An egress window is an opening, typically in the basement, built for a safe exit in the case of an emergency. Without the proper protections, egress windows can be an entry point for water to creep into your basement. Whether you currently have one or you want to add one for a safer and healthier basement, it’s important to have the best of the best. Here’s everything you need to know about egress windows and window wells.
Why Do You Need an Egress Window and Window Well?
What will an egress window and window well do for you? Here are some of the great benefits of the egress window and window well.
- Allows in Light
One obvious benefit to an egress window is that it allows in light from the outside. Because basements are mostly underground, something that can be annoying is that you might only be able to use artificial lighting, at least how you have the process set up right now.
However, with an egress window, you may not have to do that any longer. Artificial lighting can be just fine for a variety of things, but it’s not something you want to rely on all the time. With an egress window, you can end up with natural light throughout the day.
- Provides a Quick Exit
Perhaps the most important function that an egress window offers is in the name. An egress window should provide a quick and safe exit in case of an emergency. The window well should help you do that; many window wells have steps built into the window well so you can walk out if you ever need to make a quick exit from the basement.
For example, if there’s a fire, it won’t be safe for you to exit through other areas of the home. Instead, you can exit through the egress window to make sure you stay safe.
- Required for Code Compliance
There are many requirements for code compliance to keep in mind when it comes to egress windows and window wells. In many states, window wells and egress windows are regulated under the International Residential Code, which requires all basements used as liveable spaces to have “rescue openings” of specific dimensions. These requirements for code compliance are as follows:
- Basement window opening of at least 5.7 square feet, or 5 square feet below grade
- If a basement window well is deeper than 44 inches, it requires an egress ladder
- Basement windows must have a minimum width of 20 inches and a minimum height of 24 inches
- Basement window wells must be at least 36 inches wide and 36 inches of projection
- Egress windows can be under decks and porches as long as there is 36 inches of clearance under the deck or porch
What Problems Can Arise with Egress Windows and Window Wells?
As with every basement solution, egress windows require maintenance. Here are common issues you may find with egress windows, and how you can effectively manage them.
- Debris in the Window Wells
One potential problem you can end up with is debris in your window wells. This is common for smaller window wells without a debris-catching mechanism built-in. Additionally, a poorly graded home can cause more debris to run into the window wells.
The best way to avoid debris in window wells is to invest in a well-designed window well that stops debris. Installers can also place a clear cover on the window well that further defends your window from debris. Though they cover your window, you don’t need to worry about safety. Clear covers are easy to open and remove in an emergency.
- Water Accumulating in the Window Well
Water accumulating in the window well is another area of maintenance, especially if you live somewhere with a wet climate. This can happen with well-waterproofed egress windows that do not have drainage systems.
A drainage system is an easy way to redirect excess water and maintain the quality of your egress window. Drainage can also ward off water from building up hydrostatic pressure that can seriously damage the egress windows.
- Egress Windows Without Proper Waterproofing
Egress windows need the right waterproofing to be able to stand up to any water that does come up against the window. When it’s raining or flooding, you want to make sure water doesn’t come into your basement. Issues with windows are very common reasons for basement waterproofing problems.
The best way to maintain this is to make sure you have high-quality egress windows that a reputable basement waterproofing expert installed. If you have both, you’re much less likely to end up with leaks.
Add or Fix Your Egress Windows and Window Wells with an Expert’s Help
Whether you’re adding a brand new egress window and window well or you just want to ensure your current one is up to code and effective, it’s always a good idea to get an expert in. A local expert will be able to look at your current setup and give you more information about what you might need to fix or add.
Anyone who’s looking for a better basement experience should get a local basement repair expert in to take a look at the basement as a whole. These professionals can check out at your situation and suggest something that will make your basement look and feel even better.