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A basement egress window can be the difference between life and death. Basement egress windows ensure that your family and guests have a way out in case of fire.

What is an egress window?

An egress is an exit, and an egress window is an escape window for basements. The window ensures occupants have a secondary means of escape in case of fire or other emergencies. In basements, if there is a bedroom, egress windows are required by New York State law. Homeowners working with contractors to finish a basement playroom, spare bedroom, or living space are required to install an egress.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “4,000 Americans die each year in fires, and over 20,000 are injured,” many of which could be avoided with proper escape plans and routes. An egress window in each bedroom and other “habituated” areas (basements included) drastically increases your chances of safe escape during a significant house fire. It provides entry points into your home for emergency personnel. (homeadvisor.com)

What is the purpose of a window well?

egress window installation near me

Building window well for basement construction.

Basement window wells are installed to facilitate the escape of occupants using an egress window. The well is a hollowed-out piece of the foundation built around the basement window. Window well also refers to a product attached to the side of your house that acts as a wall to hold back the earth. The well keeps back snow, ice, dirt, and debris. In addition, it acts as a barrier to avoid collapse.

Debris and dirt are welcome wagons for pests, including termites, carpenter ants, and even mice. Working with a licensed pest control company can keep your home pest free, and many offer free inspections.

A crawl space window well protects the crawl space and provides easy access. In addition, some products offer a cover to repel moisture and have locks for increased security.

Basement egress window requirements

Residential Code of New York State (RCNYS), section R310, states that an Emergency escape and rescue opening is required. Therefore, basements, habitable attics, and every sleeping room shall have fewer than one operable emergency escape and rescue opening.

Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, an emergency escape and rescue opening shall be required in each sleeping room. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way or to a yard or court with a minimum width of 36 inches that opens to a public way. Exception: Storm shelters and basements used only to house mechanical equipment not exceeding a total floor area of 200 sq. ft.

(NYS Emergency Egress Code) The term emergency escape and rescue opening is defined as: An operable window, door, or similar device that provides for a means of escape and access for rescue in the event of an emergency.

How big does an egress window have to be?

Bobvila.com shares egress requirements for finished basements. Whether it is an egress window or an egress door, it must open to the outside and easily without using keys or tools. It must also follow code requirements for the height and width of basement egress windows. Egress opening requirements include:

  • A window with a minimum width of an opening of 20 inches.
  • A window with a minimum height of an opening of 24 inches.
  • A window with a minimum net clear opening — the actual opening through which a person must crawl — of 5.7 square feet.
  • A sill height no higher than 44 inches above the floor.
  • A window-well floor space of 9 square feet with minimum dimensions of 36 inches wide and long.
  • A permanent ladder or steps if the window well depth is more than 44 inches.

The egress is genuinely a matter of life and death.  It allows residents to escape and firefighters to enter and lift people to safety. The space should allow the firefighter to enter with a pack and oxygen. In addition, the lack of egress can affect the sale of your home when a qualified home inspector visits to inspect your home and informs the buyer that the house needs to be code-compliant.

How do I get egress windows installed in my home?

Foundation problems affect the safety and structure of your home. Unsure if you have a foundation problem? Never ignore the signs. Catching foundation issues early can avoid costly repairs and irreversible damage. We often repair bowing and leaning foundation walls, broken basement windows, and cracked basement floors. Contact us to get a quote for any basement and foundation repairs, including installing egress windows. Keep your family and visiting friends and relatives safe in your basement living space.

Aardvark Basement Proz LLC

Resources ICC, Bobvila.com