Basement Egress Window : A Life Saving Window

How safe are you and your family? As you know, home safety is your responsibility; anything less is not forgivable. One of the ways to ensure a hazard-free and comfortable home is by installing an basement egress window.

What is a basement Egress window?

Egress is an exit and provides a quick escape for ground quarters. The window must be big enough for a getaway in case of an emergency.

These are standard requirements for finishing a basement. Usually, these are combined with an Egress with a well-equipped ladder or steps for an easy escape.

Egress windows allow a second exit in the event of an emergency. They can add more natural light and make your basement feels warmer and more welcoming.

Basement bedrooms should have exit windows, a need for safety reasons in the fire, and other emergencies. 

According to the international Residential code an Egress window is required to be installed in the new and existing basement if a new sleeping area ”bedroom” created (IRC R310.6).

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Residential Code Requirements for Basement Egress Windows

Building codes require that basement windows meet specific specified dimensions. Having an emergency device allows one to get out quickly in emergencies.

International Residential Code, basement windows should have these characteristics. (IRC 310.1),

  • The open window door should be at least 24 inches in height. 
  • A minimum clear width of 20 inches.
  • A net clear opening of at least 5 square feet of glass area is required for grade floor or below grade only.
  • A net clear opening of at least 5.7 square feet of glass area is required. 
  • A sill is no higher than 44 inches off the interior floor. 
  • When the window is above 44 inches from the interior floor, the ladder should be permanently attached. 
  • At a minimum, the ladder must be 12 inches wide and no less than three inches from the window well, which should not encroach more than six inches on the required open window. 
  • If a window is located under a porch or decking, it must be at least 36 inches below the floor joists. 
Basement egress window code requirements

Measuring Your Basement Windows

Not sure if your existing basement windows will meet current building code standards for egress requirements? What you must do is to follow the below steps?

  • Take a tape measure. 
  • Open the window wide to allow fresh air comes in. 
  • Measure the width and the height of the openings. 
  • Multiply its width by its height. 

Are your measurements equal to the square inches above ?  Then, you are making progress.

Doors shall be removable without any special tools. 

Old Basement Windows vs. Egress 

If you live in an older house, there is a possibility there is a narrow window in the basement.

Open Hopper windows you will not have a bedroom or living space in your basement if these windows are set smaller than the current standard code. Basement windows are also used for other purposes than egress. 

Homeowners in those days used their basements for utility and storage space. As the window age increases, the size of the windows will become relatively smaller.

Please check your area code first. And update the olden basement window to egress.

Basement Windows with Below Ground Levels

If your basement window is set below ground level, you will need to construct a window well beneath the window frame. At most, this well must be at least 36 inches wide and 36 inches long, 9 square feet of horizontal area.

The fixed ladder or stairs should be installed if the well is more than 44 inches deep. (IRC R310.2.3).

The required ladder or step shall not encroach more than 6 inches into the required window well dimension.

The required ladder or steps shall be a minimum width of 12 inches and spaced not more than 18 inches on center vertically and to encroach not less than 3 inches from the wall. IRC (R310.2.3.1).

Basement windows can be above a deck or porch, provided enough clearance for an average-sized adult to exit. It would help if you ensured a minimum of 36 inches between the window top and the deck’s base or porch floor joists. 

Why Egress window in basement ?

Life comes first, in every decision in life, as critical attentions have to be considered in business, construction, and all daily life activities, and everything else happens to be second.

This is why you have to sacrifice some beauty of your basement and comply with the code that turns your basement into a bright and comfortable, and life-saving living room or bedroom through considering egress. 


Fire can quickly spread in a home. Having an emergency escape from the basement is easy in case of fire or emergency. 

Exit Code

When you install a bedroom in the basement, an egress window must be put into the room.  If you install a habitable room on the basement floor, one must include an egress window as part of the installation. 


Well-designed egress window wells are built of plastic with UV inhibitors. Once these concrete blocks are fixed in place, they will last for decades. Station bars protect against rusting, rotting, and decay for ten years. 


A cover on a well will be sturdy enough to support more than 500 lbs and without anyone falling into the well. The body is also absorbent sufficient to absorb moisture. 

Because Egress windows are a way out, they must be capable of opening from the inside. When windows are being opened from outside, it is no more common to empty the basement windows.

The sash of the window shouldn’t obstruct the opening. Because of this, your family can be evacuated, or first responders can quickly enter.

Requirements for basement windows in different areas and may vary. Call the local building officials to learn more about your community rules and regulations.

1 thought on “Basement Egress Window : A Life Saving Window”

  1. The part of your article that mentioned the safety that egress windows can bring to a basement was definitely one part I appreciated reading. Having a basement entertainment room sounds fun and all, but I can only imagine the safety risks involved with something like that. To make sure my kids have a safe place to play in once all of their electronic devices are installed, I’ll make sure I get an egress window service to work on that area as part of the project.

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