What’s an “egress window”? An easy-to-open window that serves as an emergency exit for below-ground living space of any kind.
Let’s be honest – during a fire, stairs could be blocked or damaged. To avoid such dangerous situations, the International Residential Code requires a safe means of egress in all basements used partially or entirely as a living space.
Just as important, these windows totally eliminate the “dungeon feeling” that many, if not most, basements have. Even finished basements can have stale air and primarily artificial lighting.
With egress windows, you can have fresh air in your basement to improve your home’s overall ventilation, as well as increased natural light to brighten the space and make it much more pleasant.
On this site you’ll find all the information you’ll need to create a finished basement – from product reviews to information on where to start.
Are you a self-sufficient do-it-yourselfer? Our step-by-step installation guides and videos will practically hold your hand through the process. Not the DIY type? You can find an Installer who can do it for you. Regardless, you’ll find the perfect product for your situation.
Learn whether your basement remodeling project requires a safe exit – it probably does – by looking over the IRC Code information. There you’ll find details on building code requirements for basement windows for egress, ventilation and natural daylight.
Regardless of the basement use or project, a ready to install egress system is the key to bringing light, air, freedom and safety for you and your loved ones.
According to the International Building Code, “Basements and sleeping rooms below the fourth story shall have at least one exterior emergency escape and rescue opening. . . . Such opening shall open directly into a public street, alley, yard or court.” This “escape and rescue opening” can be a bedroom window, skylight or patio door, but it must meet certain criteria:
- It must have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 sq. ft. Net clear opening refers to the actual free and clear space that exists when the window is open. It is not the rough opening size or the glass panel size or any other size, but the actual opening a person can crawl through. Code officials want the opening large enough so firefighters can comfortably crawl through the window in full protective gear with an air tank on their back. Ground-floor bedroom windows only need a net clear opening of 5 sq. ft.; they can be smaller because a rescue ladder doesn’t take up part of the opening.
- The opening height must be at least 24 in., and the opening width must be at least 20 in.
- The bottom of the clear opening must be within 44 in. of the floor.
- The window or other opening must be operational from the inside without keys or tools. Bars, grilles and grates over windows must be operational without tools or keys and still allow the minimum clear opening.
Note that a window opening that’s the bare minimum of 24 in. high and 20 in. wide does not meet egress requirements, since its net clear opening is only 3.33 sq. ft. A window has to be taller and/or wider than these minimums to meet the 5.7-sq.-ft.-opening requirement.
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