How to Install a Basement Egress Window for Safety & Natural Light

How to Install a Basement Egress Window?

To install a basement egress window, first, dig a hole outside the basement where the window will be placed.

Ensure that the window well is properly installed and level.

Place the window and secure it with screws.

Seal the window with caulk and insulation.

Fill the space between the window well and the outer hole with soil.

Make a cover for the window well to prevent accidents and keep the basement dry during wet weather.

It is recommended to hire a professional for this difficult and messy installation, but if you choose to do it yourself, you can rent the necessary equipment.

Key Points:

  • Dig a hole outside the basement for the window placement
  • Install and level the window well
  • Secure the window with screws
  • Seal the window with caulk and insulation
  • Fill the space between the window well and the outer hole with soil
  • Create a cover for the window well to prevent accidents and keep the basement dry during wet weather

Did You Know?

1. Did you know that basement egress windows were initially created for emergency escape purposes in the event of a fire? They were first introduced as a safety measure to provide a secure exit route for occupants.

2. The concept of basement egress windows can be traced back to ancient Roman architecture. Homes of wealthy Romans often featured secret underground escape tunnels called “cryptae” with small windows for ventilation and escape in case of emergency.

3. In the United States, the implementation of egress window requirements varied by state and was heavily influenced by tragic historical events. The Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in Boston in 1942, which resulted in 492 deaths, prompted stricter fire safety regulations and led to the increased installation of basement egress windows.

4. Egress windows not only provide a safe exit, but they also serve as a source of natural light and ventilation in basements. With their larger size and strategic placement, they can greatly improve the overall livability and comfort of basements.

5. The installation of egress windows can significantly increase the value of a home. According to real estate experts, a finished basement with proper egress windows can add up to 10-20% to the overall value of a property, as it provides additional living space and enhances safety features.

Egress Window Requirements And Costs

Egress windows are essential safety features in any home, particularly in basements. These windows provide a means of escape during emergencies and allow natural light, ventilation, and a view outside.

When installing a basement egress window, it is crucial to adhere to specific requirements according to building codes. The window must be at least 20 inches wide and 24 inches high, with window sashes no higher than 44 inches from the inside floor. Additionally, the window must offer a minimum of 5.7 square feet of opening space in the basement.

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The cost of installing a basement egress window can vary depending on several factors. Larger windows typically cost more to install, and homeowners may need to pay extra for cutting a new window opening or enlarging an existing one. Labor costs can range from $40 to $100 per hour, with the installation of an egress window ranging from $100 to over $1,000 per window. Furthermore, the quality of the glass used in the egress window can also affect the overall cost.

  • Egress windows provide a means of escape during emergencies
  • They allow natural light, ventilation, and a view outside
  • Must adhere to specific requirements according to building codes
  • Window dimensions: 20 inches wide and 24 inches high
  • Window sashes should not exceed 44 inches from the inside floor
  • Minimum 5.7 square feet of opening space in the basement
  • Cost factors: window size, cutting/opening adjustments
  • Labor costs range from $40 to $100 per hour
  • Installation cost varies from $100 to over $1,000 per window
  • Quality of the glass used also affects the overall cost.

Importance Of Egress Windows For Safety

Egress windows are essential for ensuring the safety of individuals who live in a home. According to building codes, every bedroom must have an egress window to serve as an emergency escape route. In case of a fire or other emergencies, these windows provide a safe way to exit the house. Moreover, egress windows also bring in natural light and fresh air to the basement, making it a more habitable space.

Aside from their significance in emergencies, egress windows offer additional benefits. They provide a connection to the outdoors, allowing occupants to enjoy views and creating a feeling of spaciousness in the basement. When installed correctly, egress windows can greatly improve the overall livability and value of a home.

  • Egress windows ensure safety and compliance with building codes.
  • They serve as emergency exit routes during fires or other crises.
  • These windows bring natural light and ventilation into the basement.
  • Egress windows create a sense of openness and connection to the outdoors.
  • Properly installed egress windows can enhance the overall value of a home.

Process And Costs Of Installing A Basement Egress Window

Installing a basement egress window can be a complex and messy process, often requiring the assistance of a professional contractor. However, for those who wish to undertake the task themselves, it is possible with the right equipment and knowledge.

The cost of installing a basement egress window varies depending on factors such as:

  • the size of the window
  • the need for excavation and creating a window well
  • the materials used

Homeowners should be prepared to pay additional expenses for:

  • cutting through masonry walls
  • installing a window well enclosure
  • ensuring proper water drainage around the window.

Labor costs for professional installation can range from $100 to over $1,000 per window, depending on the complexity of the project and the expertise of the contractor. It is essential to obtain multiple quotes and thoroughly research contractors before proceeding with the installation.

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Tips For DIY Installation Of Egress Windows

While it is recommended to hire a professional for installing a basement egress window, some homeowners may choose to take on the task themselves. Here are some essential tips for a successful DIY installation:

  • Rent the necessary equipment: To ensure a smooth installation process, rent a concrete saw and excavating machine to create the necessary openings and window well.

  • Acknowledge the importance of framing: The size of the opening should be sufficient to accommodate the wood framing required for the window installation. Ensure proper measurements and cut the framing materials accurately.

  • Purchase a prefabricated window well enclosure: Buying a prefabricated window well enclosure will simplify the installation process and ensure a proper fit.

  • Secure the window framing: Use construction adhesive and masonry fasteners to ensure the window framing is securely attached to the masonry wall.

  • Consider water drainage: Ensure that the opening slopes towards the exterior to facilitate proper water drainage. Additionally, caulk the joint between the wood and masonry to prevent water intrusion.

Steps To Properly Install A Basement Egress Window

To install a basement egress window, follow these key steps:

  • Dig a hole outside the basement: Start by excavating a hole outside the basement for the window placement. Make sure the hole is deep enough to accommodate the window well.

  • Install the window well: Level and securely attach the window well enclosure.

  • Place and secure the window: Carefully position the egress window within the window well. Use the screws provided by the window manufacturer to secure it in place.

  • Insulate and seal the window: Apply caulk and insulation to seal any gaps between the window and the surrounding opening. This will prevent drafts and water infiltration.

  • Backfill the hole: Fill the space between the window well and the outer hole with soil. Compacting the soil properly will prevent settling.

Remember, installing a basement egress window requires careful planning and execution. Follow these steps to ensure a successful installation.

Final Steps: Sealing And Covering The Egress Window

Once the basement egress window is properly installed, it is crucial to take additional measures to protect it and enhance its functionality:

  • Seal the joint between wood and masonry: Apply caulk to seal the joint between the wood framing and the masonry to prevent water intrusion and ensure a watertight seal.

  • Install exterior trim: Use synthetic boards to install exterior trim, providing a finished look to the egress window while minimizing maintenance requirements.

  • Create a window well cover: To prevent accidents and keep the basement dry during wet weather, construct a cover for the window well. This cover should be sturdy and able to support the weight of an adult.

By following these final steps, homeowners can ensure the longevity and functionality of their newly installed basement egress window.

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In conclusion, installing a basement egress window is an important investment in the safety and livability of a home. Adhering to egress window requirements and considering the associated costs are essential factors to consider. While professional installation is recommended, homeowners with the necessary tools and skills can attempt a DIY installation. Regardless of the installation approach chosen, proper installation techniques and attention to detail will ensure a successful and functional basement egress window.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you install an egress window yourself?

While it may be tempting to tackle the installation of an egress window yourself, it is generally not advisable. Without the necessary experience and knowledge, there is a higher risk of errors and potential safety hazards. Additionally, obtaining the required tools and permits may prove challenging, further complicating the process. It is often best to consult a professional to ensure a proper and safe installation of an egress window.

How to make a basement window egress?

To create a basement window egress, begin by determining the location of the window, ensuring it meets the size requirements of at least 20 inches wide and 24 inches tall with a minimum total area of 5.7 square feet. Next, prepare the area by removing any obstacles that may impede access. Consider installing a window well outside the window to provide a clear and accessible pathway for entry and exit. Finally, ensure that the bottom of the window opening is no higher than 44 inches off the floor to ensure it meets the accessibility requirement. With attention to these details, a functional and compliant basement window egress can be successfully created.

Is it worth adding egress window to basement?

Absolutely! The addition of an egress window to your basement is well worth it. Not only does it create additional usable space for activities such as an office or play area, but it also brings in much-needed natural light and fresh air, transforming your basement into a comfortable and welcoming living area. The benefits of an egress window extend far beyond just aesthetics, as it also serves as a crucial safety feature by providing a secondary exit in case of emergencies.

What is the difference between an egress window and a regular window?

Regular windows are common household windows that are primarily designed to provide light, ventilation, and aesthetic appeal to a room. While regular windows can be opened and used for emergency exits if needed, they are not specifically designed or required to meet the safety standards of egress windows. On the other hand, egress windows are specifically designed to provide a safe and easily accessible exit in case of emergencies. They are larger in size to accommodate a person’s safe and swift passage and are typically installed in areas such as basements and bedrooms where a secondary means of escape is necessary.

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