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A Complete Guide to Egress Windows

You’ve moved into a new home, and after a couple of years, you realize something is wrong. Water is seeping into your basement and spoiling the party for you. You look at the plumbing, ductwork, walls, and even the basement gutters, but everything looks fine. On closer look, you realize the egress is leaky.

Leaking windows and egress windows is not unheard of, and it has the potential to ruin your basement. What you do after noticing the signs — condensation or water droplets — will determine whether your basement stays dry or not.

This article covers the basics of egress windows, how to protect your home, and how the local basement waterproofing professionals at Ohio Basement Authority can help.

diagram of an egress window

What is an Egress Window?

Egress means a way or path out. That’s precisely what these windows do.

Installed in the basement, egress windows provide an emergency exit in the event of a fire outbreak or any other emergency. They’re large enough to allow you to safely exit your home.

With an egress, you also get natural light for your basement or dark rooms. Whether you’re finishing a basement or remodeling yours, an egress adds value to your home.

3 Types of Egress Windows

Egress window systems come in a variety of designs and sizes for your new basement or home remodeling needs. You can use any of the following types as long it meets the requirements set by local codes.

1. Double-hung windows

These systems feature two glass panes, and their bottom half opens upward. In some cases, you can open a double-hung window from top to bottom. When installing them, ensure they’re at least 24 inches tall and 34 inches wide to meet the local requirements.

2. Sliding windows

These types open from side to side instead of up and down, pretty much like a sliding door. Because egress must be at least 20 inches, yours would need to be at least 40 inches wide and 41 inches tall.

3. Casement windows

This style opens in or out. Think of a door on a hinge. You can either open them using a handle or a rotating lever. Despite being smaller, they can open ajar and still fulfill the basic sizing requirements.

view of egress window from inside a basement

Benefits of Egress Windows

Safety is the number one reason you’d want to install an egress window in the basement. With a well that is placed on the outside and that is big enough, this special window system provides a quick exit.

Installing an egress also improves the style and the value of your house by adding square footage as they are required in living spaces. So, if you want to use your basement as extra bedroom space or an entertainment area, you need an egress window system installed.

Egress Window Standard Codes

Most residential codes require homes to have at least one egress installation during the initial design and construction. Don’t forget to factor this in when building your home.

Egress placement varies from state, county, and municipality, with each having its own requirements.

However, there are some general standards by the International Residential Code (IRC) that cut across the board. One is that egress must be at least 20 inches wide and 24 inches tall, with a clearing of 5.7 square feet when ajar. The maximum sill height should be 44 inches.

Additional requirements include:

  • Egress windows must be functional from the inside.
  • Windows must have clearing space around them.
  • Egress must have a projection of 36-inch with steps leading towards them.
  • Windows should not have requirements like keys or tools to open them.
covered egress window system

How to Waterproof Your Egress Windows

Like any installation around your home, your egress can fall apart or get damaged, compromising dryness. So, check your windows from time to time to see if they’re waterproof. Here are some solutions you can apply.

Apply Caulking

First, caulk your basement egress to stop water from coming through the window. Here’s how your contractor will complete the project: Start by removing old caulk around the frame using a putty knife. Once you peel the caulk away, wipe the edges with a moist cloth to remove dust, dirt, and any lingering caulk. Load your caulking gun with silicone-latex caulk, then apply it steadily on the window seams at a 45-degree angle. Release the caulk when you reach the corner, then smooth the caulk before wiping off any excess caulk with a cloth.

Add Window Well Covers

Consider installing covers over the egress window wells. This curved, translucent piece of durable plastic helps keep leaves, debris, water, and moisture out of the window well and away from your basement. The secure piece also allows more natural light into the basement. Having gravel and a drain at the bottom of the well also is advised to help keep water away from your home and out of your basement.

Replace Windows As Needed

Lastly, remove any old leaky windows and replace them with new ones with proper seals. You may have to replace the damaged or rotted window frame before you install the window.

Contact Ohio Basement Authority for Reliable Egress Windows

If you’re wondering what type of egress windows suit your basement or need help replacing your leaky, ineffective windows, get in touch with Ohio Basement Authority for a free basement inspection and quote.

We have many years of experience installing, sealing, and maintaining egress windows that will protect your home. Get started today!

OBA inspector meeting with homeowner
Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

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