If you are about to build or buy a house, you must have heard at least something about Egress windows. The name of the window is pretty self-explanatory. Egress means “exit” or “emerge.” These windows are designed to care for your safety. In an emergency situation, such as a fire, when doors can be blocked and people have no way to exit the house, you can do it with the help of a specially-designed Egress window. Also, these windows will allow specialist, such as firemen, enter your home. Such windows are installed in basements and it is actually against the law to avoid them.
According to 2006 International Residential Code the Egress windows must be installed if:
- You create a sleeping space (bedroom) in the basement.
- Your basement doesn’t have an Egress window and you are about to create a habitable room.
These rules can be considered rather new. So, when you are buying a house, pay special attention to the availability to such windows. If the house was built after 2006, most likely the required windows are in place. However, if it is older, then you must be forced to install them on your own, unless the previous owner has done everything according to the latest laws.
Installing Egress windows can be a rather costly procedure, especially if you have to be breaking walls to do it. However, you must remember that life safety is much more important than the wallet. Accordingly, Egress windows must be installed as the law dictates.
Once you have chosen the design of your new window, make sure that you comply with certain size requirements. The egress window size should be closely followed. These are the parameters:
- Minimum opening width: 20 inches
- Minimum opening height: 24 in.
- Minimum unobstructed opening area: 5.7 square feet. (5.0 square feet for ground floor)
- Maximum height above floor: 44 inches
It is imperative to follow the maximum and minimum requirements. Otherwise, the window will not be serving its primary purpose, which is to save your life and the lives of your loved ones in case of an emergency. Remember, the regulations were created after making careful studies. The Egress window can really help you avoid a tragedy, so try to install one as soon as possible.
When you hire a contractor to do the job, make sure that you will explain what exactly you need the window for. Carefully double check that the requirements are closely followed, before the window is installed. Proper Egress window size and installation is fully your responsibility. During an emergency, the only person you will have to blame is yourself, so make sure everything is done in accordance with the law. Another way to check if the job has been done right is to hire a home inspector. You will get a professional opinion about the matter and will be sure you are fully protected in case of fire.