Thinking of Installing Egress Windows? Know Your Options and How to Protect Yours

egress window system

Egress windows are fairly common in homes across Cleveland, OH. If you’re building a home or finishing your basement, you’re going to need to have one installed. But what are they? And are they essential? Read on and find out what role this type of window system plays, how it’s installed, and what you can do prevent leaking.

Egress Windows – What Are They?

Egress refers to a means of going out. An egress window is an easy to access window that acts as an emergency exit for below the ground areas like the basement. They’re usually paired with window wells that have a ladder or steps to facilitate an easier escape.

As well as serving as exit routes during an emergency, egress windows let in natural light to brighten the space and eliminate that dungeon feeling associated with most basements that have inadequate lighting.

Since it serves an exit, an egress window should be large enough for occupants to escape. Local building codes also require them to be wide enough to allow a firefighter to go through.

How are Egress Windows and Wells Installed?

A typical installation goes like this:

1) Gas and plumbing lines are marked before work begins

2) They dig the window well

3) The window is cut to the desired size

4) Section of concrete foundation is removed

5) Egress window and window well are installed and sealed

6) Contractor backfills around the well and inside it

When you’re adding a basement to your home, you have to keep these specific requirements in mind:

  • Opening width: 20 in.
  • Opening height: 24 in.
  • Net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft.
  • Maximum sill height: 44 in.

Note: When these windows are open, they must be wide enough for you to crawl through.

Types of Egress Windows

You have a good number of options for your basement windows, starting with casement windows. These take up a small space and their side hinges open up wide, allowing for easy exit. Glider windows or dibble-hung is the other option on the table. While they can pass local code, they have to be big. When they’re ajar, the glass takes almost half the opening. For you to meet the code requirement, the windows have to be bigger than your standard basement window.

Awning windows are a bit tricky as they swing out from the bottom. For this reason, they won’t make the best egress windows for your basement. Worse still, they may even trap you when there’s an emergency. Also, their opening hardware and hinges are all centered. and this can make exiting difficult.

Protecting your egress window

Though the basement window makes the basement living space habitable, it can leak when its seals come off. This can introduce dampness or water into the basement and damage your carpets, clothing and even furniture. Over time, mold and mildew may grow and compound your problems. You can avoid all the undesirable effects by sealing the egress windows properly. The seal around the egress window could degrade over time and as such need replacing. You’ll find this necessary, especially when you have groundwater or foundation shifts.

If you find the basement window causing annoying leaks, here are measures you can take to stop further leaks.

1)  Caulk the basement window. Simple as this sounds, it’s the best line of defense against water and moisture. You may need to replace the frame around the window if it has been excessively leaking.

2) Install a window well with drainage. Inside the window well area, a curbed piece of steel with a pipe can help block moisture from the window area and drain water that collects here. Consider adding gravel on the inside. To prevent clogging, get a window well cover to stop debris and water from entering the window well area.

3) Grade the area near the basement window. Grading has a bearing on water flow. If the earth slopes toward the basement window, leaking is going to be a problem. Replacing your damaged window or weakened seals won’t cut it. Get a landscaper to help you correct the grading issue.

Have a leaky basement window? Looking for International Residential Code-compliant egress windows for your Cleveland, OH, basement? Want to replace loose or damaged seals? We can help you with these and more. Get in touch with our egress window experts and get a free egress windows repair quote today.