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What Are the Best Basement Windows for Egress?

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Basement windows
Basement windows

Basements are no longer the damp, dark dungeons children and some adults fear. They have become beautiful, livable extensions of people’s homes. From bright offices to game rooms and additional bedrooms, basements have become valuable assets to homeowners. If you are considering renovating your basement, you may have heard about egress windows. But what are they, and why should you care? This article will consider the pros and cons of egress windows, why they are a worthwhile investment, the three main options, how to pick the best one, and how to maintain a basement egress window.

What Is a Basement Egress Window?

A basement egress window is designed to provide an emergency exit and rescue access from a basement in case of fire or other emergencies. Egress windows are required by building codes in many jurisdictions for finished basements or habitable spaces below ground level. Here are some key features of basement egress windows:

  • Size – The exact size requirements may vary depending on local building codes, but egress windows are generally large enough to allow easy entry and exit for occupants and emergency responders.
  • Location – Egress windows are strategically located to provide a direct path to safety from all basement areas. They are often installed in bedrooms and living rooms to ensure you have a clear exit route.
  • Easy Operation – Egress windows must be easily opened from the inside without special tools or keys. Multiple options are available, from sliding to swinging openings.
  • Window Well – Egress windows are often installed in window wells, excavated areas outside the basement window. They allow natural light to enter the basement and provide access to the window from the exterior. They typically contain drainage materials to prevent water accumulation and ladders or steps to facilitate escape.
  • Safety Grates or Covers – While egress windows must provide an easy escape in an emergency, they also need to prevent unauthorized entry and accidental falls. Safety grates or covers may be installed over egress windows to mitigate such dangers.

A basement egress window is designed to provide an emergency exit and rescue access from a basement in case of fire or other emergencies. Egress windows are required by building codes in many jurisdictions for finished basements or habitable spaces below ground level.

What Are the Pros and Cons of an Egress Window?

Egress windows are beautiful and practical additions to any basement, but there are a few other advantages and disadvantages to consider:

Pros:

  • Emergency Exit – Egress windows provide a safe and easily accessible means of escape in case of fire or other emergencies.
  • Natural Light and Ventilation – Egress windows allow natural light and fresh air to enter the basement, making the space more inviting.
  • Improved Home Value – Egress windows can increase the value of a home by making the basement safer and more attractive to potential buyers.
  • Code Compliance – Egress windows are often required by building codes for finished basements or habitable spaces below ground level.

Cons:

  • Cost – Installing egress windows can be expensive, especially if the basement does not already have suitable openings or if extensive excavation and construction are required to create window wells and exits.
  • Maintenance – Egress windows require regular maintenance to ensure proper operation and prevent leaks or drafts.
  • Potential Security Risks – While egress windows are designed to provide emergency exit routes, they may also present security risks if not adequately secured or protected against unauthorized entry.

Is a Basement Egress Window Worth It?

Egress windows are essential for any basement and are often required by building codes in finished basements for safety reasons. They are thus a wise investment if you plan to convert your basement into extra living space. These windows also provide more natural light, making the space more appealing and inviting. The increased safety and aesthetic features will make your home more attractive to potential buyers, adding value to your home.

What Are the Best Basement Windows for Egress?

Three main types of basement egress windows exist – casement, single or double-hung, and horizontal sliding windows. Casement egress windows are side-hinged and swing in or out like a door. Single and double-hung windows offer window panes that can slide up and down. Horizontal sliding windows act like sliding doors with one moving pane.

The best egress window depends on what you value most. If you want to save money, choose a smaller casement window since its swinging pane allows maximum clearance for entry and exit. If you want to maximize the amount of natural light in your basement, a horizontal sliding frame would be best. However, it is recommended that you seek guidance from a professional to assist you in making the best selection for your needs and ensure your windows comply with your municipality’s requirements.

A basement egress window is designed to provide an emergency exit and rescue access from a basement in case of fire or other emergencies. Egress windows are required by building codes in many jurisdictions for finished basements or habitable spaces below ground level.

Are There Other Types of Basement Windows Besides Egress Windows?

Egress windows are not the only type of basement windows that exist. In older homes, you may find fixed window panes or glass blocks that provide light but do not open. There are also daylight windows that sit close to the ceiling. They let in natural light and often ventilation, but they are smaller and cheaper than egress windows. If you are looking for a big statement, you might consider installing walkout windows, which are basically sliding doors that provide a seamless connection from the basement to your backyard. This is the most costly option. When deciding on what types of basement windows to install, it is crucial to balance function, aesthetics, and cost. For many, egress windows are the best selection.

How Do You Maintain a Basement Egress Window?

Maintaining a basement egress window is essential to ensure its proper functioning and avoid water damage to your basement. Here are some indispensable maintenance steps:

A basement egress window is designed to provide an emergency exit and rescue access from a basement in case of fire or other emergencies. Egress windows are required by building codes in many jurisdictions for finished basements or habitable spaces below ground level.

  • Regular Cleaning – Regularly clean the window and window well to remove dirt and debris to ensure nothing will obstruct entry or exit or hinder water drainage.
  • Check Seals and Weatherstripping – Inspect the seals, gaskets, and weatherstripping around the window frame to ensure they are intact. Replace any worn or damaged seals or weatherstripping to prevent air leaks, drafts, and water infiltration around the window.
  • Test Operation – Regularly test that the window opens and closes smoothly and securely. Lubricate any parts as needed.
  • Clean Drainage System – Ensure that the drainage system in the window well is free of debris to ensure water and snow drains properly. Otherwise, you risk flooding your window well and a leaky basement.
  • Trim Vegetation – Trim back any landscaping around the egress window and window well to prevent overgrowth that can obstruct the window, impede drainage, or create hiding places for pests.
  • Secure Covers or Grates – If your egress window is equipped with a cover or grate, ensure it is securely fastened and in good condition. Check for signs of rust, corrosion, or damage, and repair or replace the cover or grate as needed to prevent falls and ensure safety.

Schedule a free consultation and determine if an egress window is best for your basement. We offer complete egress window and window well installation services at affordable rates. Our experts service Nebraska and parts of Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.

WRITTEN BY

Dave Epp

Dave is the President at Epp Foundation Repair with over 27 years of experience in the industry. Dave has worked on thousands of foundation, basement, concrete, and crawl space repair projects since 1993. Dave is involved in several civic and church organizations and enjoys coaching youth sports, mainly football, golfing, and elk hunting.

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