Basement Egress Windows

Improve Your Home's Safety with Egress Window Installation

In the modern home, the basement is not just a space to store extra stuff. Finished basements add important living space to a home, and sometimes can even free up the space for an additional bedroom as children grow. Yet most homeowners do not realize that their finished basement poses a serious safety risk, and may even violate building codes. If you have a house fire and are enjoying time in your finished basement, you may not be able to get out of your home. Here’s a closer look at this risk and how an egress window could help.

The Need for Proper Basement Exits

According to FEMA, approximately 6,500 basement fires occur every single year leading to 400 injuries and 65 deaths. Many of these occur because the home’s occupants could not get out through the tiny basement window. Not only are fires in the basement a serious risk, but so are fires on the main floor. If a fire on the main floor blocks the stairway leading out of the basement, or if a family member in the basement is unconscious because of smoke inhalation or injury, the only way to get them out may be through the window. Because of this, building codes require a usable exit to the outdoors for any habitable lower level of a home. If yours does not have this, you may be in violation of your local laws.

What Is an Egress Window?

An egress window provides a solution to this problem. An egress window is large enough for a person to crawl out of or for a firefighter to enter the home through. Should you have a fire, someone in the basement could get out without risk. Should someone pass out in the basement, emergency responders would have access to get them out.

While building codes do vary by state and city, all egress windows must adhere to the International Residential Code criteria, at a minimum, which requires:

  • Minimum width of 20 inches
  • Minimum height of 24 inches
  • Net clear opening that is 5.7 square feet
  • Sill height no more than 44 inches off the ground

Most of these are easy to understand, except the net clear opening. This refers to the free, clear space when the window is open. The person must have 5.7-square-foot minimum to crawl through when using the window. Thus, most windows are larger than the 20 by 24 inch minimum requirement in order to provide the 5.7-square-foot opening.

Egress windows typically sit below ground level, so they will have two additional features. First, they will have a window well that provides space for the person to stand and get out. This must have 9 square feet of floor area and be at least 36 inches wide and long. It also must include a small ladder for exiting the window well. Second, these windows also typically come with a cover or lid that prevents debris from building up inside the window well.

Installing a Basement Egress Window – Don’t Forget Weatherproofing!

Installing a basement egress window is a difficult task. It requires cutting into the concrete of your basement safely, identifying and avoiding utility lines, and ensuring everything fits together well and operates properly. Yet there’s another factor to consider to protect your basement and belongings.

Egress windows are large holes in the side of your home’s foundation. Thus, they create an area where water could easily find its way inside. Without proper weatherproofing, an egress window could turn into an invitation for water to find its way into your basement.

Proper installation is key to making sure it is waterproof and weatherproof. First, the foundation underneath the window requires proper preparation to create the right drainage. Then, the window well itself is installed so that it diverts water away from the window, which means it must feature a window well drain. Next, the window itself needs proper sealing to avoid leaks around the seams. Finally, the backfill placed around the window well after installation must use the right techniques and materials, like a layer of river rock, to encourage proper drainage.

One of the most challenging parts of installing an egress window is ensuring it drains properly. You need to work with a qualified contractor that not only understands foundations and structural support but also waterproofing and weatherproofing techniques. Poor installation without the right drainage and sealing could lead to disaster for your home.

Trust Leak Shield Pro for Egress Window Installation in Louisville

An egress window adds value and function to your home, but poor installation can damage your home by allowing water into the basement. If you’re considering egress window installation, reach out to the team at Leak Shield Pro for help. Our basement waterproofing experts can install your egress window expertly, with all waterproofing in place to protect your home. Reach out to our Louisville, Kentucky basement professionals today for a free estimate for egress window installation services.

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