What is an Egress Window?
Egress windows by definition are any window that is designed for escape, they are very easy to access and climb out of in case of an emergency. These window types must be large enough to get out of a home, and they have to be easy to open and close when necessary. Some window types that can be used as an egress window include casement windows, double-hung windows, skylight windows, and a few other window types as long as they follow the IRC law requirements described below. Egress windows are often installed in basements as a safety precaution in case of fire and you must have one in all bedrooms as well.
Where are Egress Windows Required?
What Size Qualifies as an Egress Window?
An egress window will need to meet a specific window size requirement to abide by International Residential Code laws. Here is a break down of what qualifies as an egress window in terms of size by the IRC code for your home:
- A standard egress window size should have a minimum opening of 20 inches in width and 24 inches in height. It should allow for a person to easily exit in case of emergency. The minimum window opening size should be 5 sq. ft if on the ground floor, or 5 ft 7 in. square feet for any other floor.
How Much is an Egress Window?
The average egress window costs range from $1,000 to $5,000 per window to install. However, if you were to install an egress casement window you could expect a much cheaper installation cost. Labor costs usually average around $38 per hour for regular window types. However, installation costs will grow substantially if you are needing to have the exterior side of the egress window exit excavated, or if it already exists your replacement window should be cheaper. The average cost to replace or install windows will always vary by local factors.
Egress Window Installation
Egress windows aren’t typically required in a basement unless that basement is being used on a regular basis. For instance, if you put a bedroom in the basement then it would require egress windows to be installed. However, many homeowners choose to install an egress window in their basement regardless of regulations for increased safety for their entire home. Only certain window brands offer egress windows, so you’ll want to talk to your local window installer about which window brand is the best for this type of window installation.
For a basement window installation, the type of window isn’t the only consideration that has to be made. A new egress window won’t do you any good if it is blocked by shrubbery or dirt on the outside. That’s why a specific window-well must be installed as well. The well has to offer enough space for the window to operate fully, and it must come with an egress ladder or egress stairs to climb out if it’s more than 44 inches deep.
Egress Casement Windows
If you are looking to install small egress windows, you will want to install a casement window that is the correct size for an egress window by IRC standards as described above. The benefit of casement windows is that they create one single opening that you can climb out of whereas double or single hung windows you aren’t cutting the space in half. This makes better use of your window opening and will allow you to get a viable egress window out of a smaller frame, casement windows can sometimes be a more affordable option for egress window installation.
Skylight Egress Windows
While most people don’t think of skylight windows as a good egress escape window, they can be used as such when the proper size options are chosen. The skylight window installation must be placed within 44 inches of the floor, which means it will probably only work in certain peaked rooms of a home. A skylight window that swings open to the side like a casement window would be perfect for egress window codes and in some rooms would look quite stylish. Most egress windows aren’t intended to improve the appearance of your home, but they’re designed to boost your overall safety. However, skylight egress windows combine the best of both worlds.
Replacing Egress Windows in Old Homes
Even though egress windows are currently required by fire code in the United States, they aren’t always installed in older homes. Egress window requirements were once less stringent when some of older homes were built. For instance, egress window regulations for a second story used to require 5 square feet of space when opened and today they require 5.7 square feet fire codes now take into account a rescue ladder as well as a fireman in full protective gear.
To verify that your windows are large enough, it’s important to walk around your home and measure each of them to see if they are at least 24 inches tall and 20 inches wide and that they have a full opening of at least 5 square feet on the ground floor and 5.7 square feet on higher stories of the house.