A key aspect of home safety is being able to exit in case of emergency. In many areas, building codes require egress windows. An egress window provides an emergency way to leave a dwelling. If you aren’t familiar with the word egress, it means the act of leaving a place or to go out.
This guide reviews the types of egress windows. It also provides information about egress window requirements for basements and upper floors.
What is an Egress Window?
An egress window should be big enough to crawl through in case of emergency. In many areas, building codes require egress windows to be large enough to fit a firefighter and their equipment.
As you determine egress window size and placement, be aware that:
- The International Building Code advises that every bedroom must contain at least one egress window. The window must be at least 5.7 square feet, 20 inches wide by 24 inches high. Its opening must be no higher than 44 inches from the floor.
- For basements, egress windows must be at least 36 inches in width and height and have a fully functioning opening. If a basement window is more than 44 inches from the ground, a ladder or steps at least 12 inches wide must be present.
- Basement egress windows must also include window wells that provide enough clearance to allow escape.
- Individual states and municipalities may have their own specifications for egress windows.
Casement Egress Windows
Different types of windows can serve as egress windows. However, they must meet the minimum requirements for size and clearance.
Casement egress windows usually have one or more hinges at the side. These windows swing in or out to open like a door. This design allows for windows to meet the egress requirements, but be smaller in size. Casement egress windows are the most popular type. Their measurements range from 28 inches to 36 inches wide by 35 1/2 inches to 48 inches tall.
Single-Hung and Double-Hung Egress Windows
Single-hung egress windows feature two panes of glass. The top sash is stationary and only the bottom sash raises. Single-hung windows are popular in older homes and colder climates. They need to be relatively large to meet the minimum size requirement for egress windows.
Double-hung egress windows feature two panes of glass. Both the top and bottom sash can be raised and lowered. They also need to be relatively large to meet the minimum size requirement for egress windows. Plan for a space that is 28 inches to 60 inches wide and 23 1/2 inches to 60 inches high.
Sliding Egress Windows
Gliding or sliding egress windows slide open horizontally, like sliding glass doors. They should be at least 4 x 4 feet to meet requirements. Like double-hung windows, sliding windows need more room than casement windows to meet egress window codes. These windows range from 47 1/2 inches to 60 inches wide and 35 1/2 inches to 60 inches tall.
Awning Egress Windows
Awning egress windows have a hinge at the top. They tilt outward to open. Many older awning windows have limited opening space, so you’ll need to make sure they’re up to code. New egress awning windows measure 36 inches to 48 inches wide by 23 1/2 inches to 36 inches tall. These windows often prove unsuitable for basements.
Installing Egress Windows
- Most new homes are built in compliance with egress window code. When renovating an older residence, you might need to install replacement windows that are larger than the originals. Many egress windows will fit in a preexisting frame, though.
- In many cases, enlarging the height of the window opening requires less structural work. Enlarging the width may require additional horizontal structural support.
- Enlarging a hole or cutting a hole to accommodate a new window frame requires carpentry experience, especially in basements made of solid concrete.
- Building codes require bedrooms to include egress windows for emergency escape. To meet requirements, choose a window that fits the available space.
Egress windows are an important component of your home safety plan. In an emergency, these windows are big enough to allow you to escape. They can also allow firefighters greater access to your home. The codes for egress windows vary from place to place. Check the local requirements if you’re renovating or building a house.
If you need new egress windows, use The Home Depot Mobile App to review stock and select the right product for you. If you’re not able to tackle a window replacement project on your own, The Home Depot's window Installation services can help. For free design, purchase and installation help with windows and doors, call us any time between 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. EST at 1-833-HDAPRON (432-7766).