Why Do I Need an Egress Window? Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Why Do I Need an Egress Window? Everything You Always Wanted to Know 1

Why Do I Need an Egress Window? Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Remodeling your basement or building your dream house? Make your home beautiful and safe with egress windows and window wells from Metco Remodeling. Let us help you to:

  • Comply with IRC building code requirements
  • Increase natural light and ventilation for your home
  • Enhance your home’s overall safety
  • Increase the value of your home

While building codes require egress windows as a safety measure, they can be tough to fit into many design schemes.

With Metco Remodeling, you don’t have to choose between safety and aesthetics. Our egress windows and window wells will turn your basement into a comfortable, airy, and attractive space while protecting the safety of you and your loved ones.

As a homeowner, you may have some questions about egress windows and how to add them to your home. Your Metco remodeling team answers some of the top questions about egress windows in this article!

What are egress windows?

The word “egress” means “to emerge” or “a path out.” That is the ultimate purpose of egress windows. In case of emergencies like a house fire, occupants can easily escape through egress windows and reach safety. We typically install them while finishing a basement, but some sleeping rooms also need them.

Are homes required to have egress windows?

Yes! The International Residential Code (IRC) strictly requires basements to have at least one “emergency escape and rescue opening.” This requirement also goes for the sleeping quarter below the fourth story of your house.

The egress window should be big enough for two purposes:

  • For occupants to escape easily during an emergency
  • For emergency and rescue workers to enter the home

If you live in an older home, it might not be up to code when it comes to egress windows. Metco Remodeling will be happy to check that for you, so we can make sure your home complies with IRC building codes.

Where do you need to install egress windows?

Ideally, it would be best if you had egress windows in every room that you use for sleeping purposes. It’s especially essential for new homes since the IRC requires each bedroom to have an egress window.

Metco Remodeling also installs many basement egress windows. They are non-negotiable if you’re finishing a basement bedroom. The requirement also applies if you have an unfinished basement that you’d like to turn into sleeping quarters.

IRC Requirements for Egress Windows

The specific codes for egress windows vary slightly by the state and city. However, the International Residential Code requires all windows to meet these requirements:

  • 20 in. minimum opening width
  • 24 in. minimum opening height
  • 5.6 square feet for minimum net clear opening (5.0 square feet for ground floor)
  • 44 in. maximum sill height above the floor


Additional guidelines include:

  • You should be able to open the windows from the inside without having to use tools or keys.
  • You may install grates, grilles, and bars over the egress windows, but they must also be operational from inside without having to use tools or keys.
  • The windows should have 5.7 square feet minimum opening.


Window Wells: A Special Challenge for Basement Egress Windows

Once you’re sure your basement egress windows comply with IRC codes, you need to pay attention to the window wells next. The window well is designed to:

  • Prevent injuries and falls
  • Prevent build-up of debris, snow, and water which can damage the basement
  • Let in natural light into below-grade rooms like the basement

IRC guidelines also cover window wells. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (IACHI) maintains that window wells should:

  • Allow occupants to open basement egress windows fully
  • Have a “floor area” of 9 square feet
  • Have a minimum dimension of 36 inches long and wide
  • Have a ladder (at least 12 inches wide) that’s permanently affixed to the window well so that occupants can climb out of a well that is more than 44 inches deep

For egress windows that are under a porch or deck, you have to keep even more building codes in mind. For instance, firefighters prefer to have a minimum of 36 inches between the bottom of the deck and the top of the window.

What’s the right egress window for your home?

The ideal egress window should meet IRC requirements while matching the style of both your home and its existing windows. At Metco Remodeling, we want you to be delighted with your new windows.  Some popular options for egress windows are:

  • Casement windows
  • Double-hung windows
  • Gliding windows
  • Awning windows

Aside from the options above, some skylights also qualify egress window codes. Not all of the types above are applicable for basement windows, so make sure to talk to our experts before you decide.

Not sure which one you should choose? Schedule a consultation with Metco Remodeling, and we’ll help you find the best type, design, and material for your new windows.

Installing Replacement Windows

Considering replacing a smaller window with one that meets egress requirements? Keep in mind that increasing the width requires more structural work than raising the height of your current window.

Leave this one to your pros at Metco Remodeling – replacement windows for egress purposes are considered a major project. For instance, enlarging the width of a small window may require installing a beefier and larger horizontal header over the existing window opening. Our remodelers will secure the structural integrity of your window while meeting IRC egress requirements.

Trust Metco Remodeling for Beautiful and Safe Windows

Do egress windows sound complicated? That’s because they are. Installing basement egress windows and window well is difficult for untrained individuals, especially when you have to follow stringent IRC building codes.

Let Metco Remodeling take care of it for you! We are well-versed with the egress window and window well codes in Nassau, Suffolk, and surrounding areas.

For over 20 years, our talented technicians been providing the window, door, and other remodeling needs of Nassau, Suffolk, Long Island, and nearby counties. Call us for all of your remodeling projects, including:

  • Dormers
  • Extensions
  • Siding
  • Roofing
  • Masonry
  • Basements
  • Kitchen and bathroom remodeling

Interested in a remodeling project? Message Metco Remodeling through our Contact Form, or call us at 631-376-1860 and 631-376-1861 today!

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