Egress Windows

What Is An Egress Window?

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An egress window is a window that is required in specific locations in a dwelling and is intended

to provide an emergency means of exiting a dwelling.  Windows must meet specific size and requirements to qualify as an egress window.

Connecticut Cellar Doors specializes in many unique installation applications and is fully versed in the code requirements for egress window installation and compliance with all local and federal building codes. We sell and install a variety of egress window systems to satisfy any budget and any requirement.

Where Are Egress Windows Required?

basement emergency windowEgress windows are required in every room used for sleeping purposes (bedrooms) on any floor and in basements with habitable space. If you are constructing a new home, the code requires that you put an egress window in each bedroom. It also requires an egress window in the basement if habitable rooms will be finished in the basement. If you install a basement bedroom or bedrooms, an egress window is required in each bedroom. If you have an existing home and you add a sleeping room in an unfinished basement, the code requires that you install an egress window in the sleeping room or rooms.

Connecticut Cellar Doors can assist you in determining the number of egress windows required during our initial consultation.

Egress Window Features:

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An egress window must satisfy four International Residential Code (IRC) criteria:

  • Minimum width of opening: 20 in.
  • Minimum height of opening: 24 in.
  • Minimum net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft. (5.0 sq. ft. for ground floor).
  • Maximum sill height above floor: 44 in.

If you have an older house make sure you keep it up to code for your own safety. Another thing to keep in mind is if you’re converting your basement into a living area, you have to keep your basement windows up to code.

Many times you will need an inspection when you renovate a particular space into a bedroom, but inspectors can’t keep an eye on everything and probably won’t be breathing down your neck, so do yourself a favor: take it upon yourself to do the right thing.

Here are answers to some common questions:

Must I use a special type of window?

Casement windows with hinged sashes that swing free and clear of the opening can be relatively small and still meet egress requirements. This makes them ideal for basement egress and for other areas where space is limited.

Why don’t my windows meet egress requirements?

Some older homes were built before there were any egress window requirements. Many more homes were built when the egress window net free opening size was 5 sq. ft. Yet even newer homes often lack proper egress windows. Attics and basements were often legally remodeled into family rooms or offices (which didn’t require egress windows) then later converted into bedrooms (which now do require them). When bedrooms are added to basements without the knowledge of inspectors and without the requisite egress window, they create a dangerous underground firetrap. During remodeling, homeowners often unwittingly replace large egress windows with smaller, non-egress windows. And while the code will require egress windows be installed when bedrooms are added on, they won’t necessarily dictate that windows in existing bedrooms be enlarged to egress size; it’s simply too difficult to monitor every situation.

What else do I need to know about the basement egress windows?

Besides the height, width and overall square-footage requirements that the basement egress window must meet, there are certain requirements for the window well surrounding the window.

Window wells must:

  • Allow the rescue window opening to be fully opened.
  • Provide 9 sq. ft. of “floor area,” with a minimum dimension of 36 in. in width and in length.
  • Contain a permanently affixed ladder or steps for climbing out if the window well depth exceeds 44 inches in depth. The ladder must be at least 12 in. wide and project no less than 3 in. from the window well. It can’t be obstructed by the open window or encroach on the required window well dimensions by more than 6 in.

If an egress window is located under a deck or porch, the code requires at least 48 inches between the top of the window well and the bottom of the deck or porch joists.

Please contact us directly for a complete Egress Window estimate and how the specialists art Connecticut Cellar Doors can improve your home.