What are window wells?
Window wells are the pits outside of your basement windows. A window well allows you to install a larger basement window, brings more sunlight into your basement, and serves as a emergency exit.
The importance of window wells for basement windows
Window wells may seem like a, well…boring subject, but they serve several purposes and are actually an important structural component of your home. If your home has a basement, you need window wells and window well accessories. Here’s why:
- Safety. First and foremost, you need window wells in your basement to keep you and your family safe. Window wells serve as an escape, exit, or entrance during emergencies like a fire, burglary, etc.
- It’s the law. Almost all city and county building codes and insurance policies require window wells to be present in residential basements. The city of Lincoln, NE, requires a window well in each finished/livable room of your basement (it’s a good idea to have them even if your basement is unfinished, too).
- Natural light. Basement windows and window wells are a good way to allow natural light into your home. Natural light will open up your space and take your basement from dark and dreary to bright and inviting. Window well materials come in a variety of beautiful stone and metal finishes, which can even add exterior charm to your home.
- Ventilation. Basements are typically characterized as being damp and musty. A window well allows outside air to enter your basement directly and keep the area fresh and dry. This can save you money on utilities and even increase the overall value of your home.
- Window well covers for additional security. Window wells provide many benefits for your home, but as the name suggests, can also introduce several issues. During periods of heavy precipitation, water, snow, and ice can collect in your well. A window well cover will keep water and debris out of your window well and away from your windows, so it can’t get into your home. Window well covers are available in clear, UV-resistant varieties that will not compromise the entrance of natural light.
- Window well covers for safety. Not only do you need window well covers to protect your basement, you need them to keep your children and pets safe. It may sound silly, but window wells (especially those that are considerably deep) can be hazardous to small children and pets. Covers will prevent accidental falls, and many will support up to several hundred pounds of weight.
How to install window wells
If you are adding a new basement window or you’re swapping a small window for a larger one, you’ll need a window well.
- First, the ground near the window is dug to 1 foot below the bottom of the window sill. The extra foot allows contractors to install a drainage system. A drainage system collects any water that pools up inside the window well and carries it off to a sump pump or an exterior french drain. Read more about the importance of a proper drainage system.
- Once the drainage system is added, a metal or plastic wall is installed inside the hole to prevent dirt from falling into the window well.
- Lastly, the space around the window well is filled with dirt, compacted, and graded so that water drains away from the window well.
Tips on maintaining your basement window wells
Unless you install a window well cover, you’ll have to worry about debris falling into your window well. If debris starts to pile up, it can clog the drainage system, causing water to pool up. You don’t want water pressing against your glass or seeping through porous concrete. So what can you do?
- Remove any leaves, twigs, or debris from your window well twice a year.
- Make sure the window well drainage system is not clogged.
- Ensure that the gravel in your window well is loose. If the gravel becomes compacted or it’s improperly installed with sand, water won’t drain and will begin to pool up.
- Install a window well cover. Most covers prevent debris from falling into the window well and still allow sunlight into your basement.
Who installs window wells near you?
If you haven’t given much thought to your window wells, it may be time to dig deep (pun intended) into installing, repairing, replacing, or simply sprucing them up. Window wells can add significant value to your home in several ways.
Epp Foundation Repair offers complete window well services at affordable rates. Contact us today!