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Guide to Egress Windows

Welcome to the complete guide for choosing the right egress windows. The following guide stays away from specific manufacturers. Instead, we explore the things you should be looking for when you purchase your windows. It is impossible to say who will be the top manufacturer tomorrow or the day after. It is not impossible to empower you with the knowledge to make sound decisions on how to choose the egress window that is right for you, your home, and your family.

Safety and style are two concepts that can go hand-in-hand with the great many of choices available on the market today. Egress windows help meet that criteria by providing a safety measure with a window that doubles as a fire escape. Simply put, an egress window is a window that allows a person to climb through it. This could be you or a family member in the case of an emergency. In the event of a fire, they allow firefighters easy access to rooms for rescue purposes. Egress well covers often have security measures built into them to prevent would-be burglars from using it as an entry point. A locking mechanism that is simple enough for a child to use, yet unreachable from the outside; can provide safety and peace of mind for inhabitants.

The value and added benefit of egress windows cannot be understated. The benefit is so great that many areas across the United States require egress windows in new construction of bedrooms in addition to renovations. If you are planning on renovating a sleeping area or converting an area to a sleeping area; it would do well to double check with local authorities on the requirements.

The standard that is currently spreading is that an egress window must be installed in each bedroom of the house, regardless of location. If the basement has habitable space, it requires an egress window in addition to any bedrooms that might be on that floor.

Rule of Thumb Requirements

The following requirements should not be viewed as an end all, be all. These are a general standard and may have some differences depending on your municipality. Check with local authorities for complete confirmation of local building codes. These are presented so you can have an idea of what to expect. Not adhering to the local building code will result in a failed inspection and will cost you more money.

A typical opening requirement will be 5.7 square feet. Some codes will count the glass area while others will only count the opening. A vertical casement egress window with 6 square feet of access is a good choice if installing into a pre-existing structure.

The bottom of the window opening must be no greater than 44" from the floor. A window well must be available that can be used to escape through. The depth of this well can be no greater than 44". If your basement requires a deeper well, various areas have different provisions regarding this issue. The well itself needs to be 36" wide and extend 36" from the window.

Pros and Cons of Egress Windows

Egress Pros

The installation of egress windows does not have many drawbacks to consider. A number of benefits make their installation all the more worthwhile though. They are larger by design to allow the passage of the dwellers or a firefighter. This means during the summer one can enjoy more air being circulated in their house and more natural light than a smaller window would permit.

This can be an excellent addition in a basement with a living space. Basements are typically a bit stale and dark. An installation of a basement egress window can really help open the basement up and offer much better ventilation in warmer months.

Egress windows also add great value to a home. A homeowner can recoup the cost plus several times over in home value should they decide to sell further down the road.

Egress Cons

With the added value and safety that egress windows can give a home, there is not many arguments against installation for them. The things that should be noted are that there are building codes that sometimes apply to their installation.

This type of window can be a bit expensive in comparison to other windows. Though it should be remembered that you will get much greater value out of an egress window than a normal window for your home, thus offsetting the cost.

Basement installations can have problems with moisture if they are not installed correctly. While some installations could be a Do-It-Yourself project, it would be a better idea to hire a professional contractor for basement egress window installations depending on your comfort level with this style of work.

One final point to understand is that this is a major project. It will come with the accompanying annoyances and inconveniences that any other major home improvement project would have. On newly built houses it is not so much of a problem since the windows can simply be drafted into the floor plan of the house.

Egress Windows and Energy Efficiency

It can be easy to see why having a large egress window could provide some energy efficiency issues. The opposite is true for most models. Multi-paned models allow for almost the same efficiency; sometimes better, that a normal window would provide. Proper installation of basement windows can ensure their performance remains acceptably in line with the overall efficiency of the house.

Technology for windows has advanced greatly from years passed. Multi-paned models can be purchased with argon or krypton gas between the panes which acts as insulation. This keeps the window from losing hot or cold air, respectively. Different types of glazes can prevent streaming in of UV rays and keeping other heating spectrum rays out of the home.

Adding different kinds of customizations, such as spacers or other construction aspects, can further decrease the energy efficiency of the window.

Egress Window Wells

Now that basement egress windows are becoming a necessity in many areas across the United States, it is important to address what an egress window well can do for you. Window wells come in many different styles and types to help match the decor of your home while meeting building code requirements. They can come in either a fixed or modular style. The modular style well can simply be added to or removed from depending on the depth of the well required by the code.

Window well covers that match the wells will typically be available. These covers are generally built to withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure so that animals or people do not fall into the well. Yet they are still light enough for a child to lift to escape from the basement should one need to. Many will come with additional mechanisms to enhance their value like UV protection to better withstand weathering. When purchasing a window well check to see if it comes with a warranty and the duration.

Prices of Egress Windows

Pricing on egress windows can be a bit different depending on the location of the window. Basement egress window installations are typically more expensive and can reach upwards of $3000.00 just for a basic style. Moving towards more elaborate window designs and window wells can easily double that price.

Above ground egress windows will generally fall into the $500.00-$1000.00 range with installation costs on par with normal windows.

One can save a decent amount of money by doing it yourself. The actual installation is not that difficult provided one has a degree of proficiency in construction. Basement installations one would be better off having a great deal of proficiency in construction or just hiring a contractor to do the work. If you have a history of moisture problems in your basement or live in an exceptionally moist area; it is better to hire a professional to ensure the installation is done right with those things in mind.

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