What are Basement Egress Windows?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Images By: Elenathewise, Homespot Hq, Tatiana Belova, Ingus Evertovskis
  • Last Modified Date: 23 February 2020
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Basement egress windows are windows that have one primary function: to allow for an escape from a basement room or space. These windows are essential for planning any basement living space or recreational or “finished” basement. Basement egress windows often constitute the only fire safety exits for an underground space.

Homeowners and other property owners often install basement egress windows for multiple reasons other than the main purpose of providing exits. Windows in a basement space allow for natural light that makes the space more enjoyable. These windows can also help in the dispersal of potentially harmful elements like radon or noxious gases or smells.

Basement egress windows are often part of a building code. They are especially important if a building owner wants to rent out a basement space, which usually comes with a significantly reduced monthly rent by square footage because of the inherent problems with living below ground. Basement egress windows are subject to specific code requirements: industry reports indicate they must be at least 5.7 square feet in area, to allow for a firefighter with equipment to enter.


Basement egress windows come in many forms. They may be hinge-type outward prop windows, where rainwater can run off of the open window without entering the space. They may be sliding windows, a popular format for many new replacement windows that seal in heat or cool air to provide better energy efficiency. Those who are engaged in basement remodeling need to think about which type of windows will serve them best, as well as how to route outdoor groundwater to make sure it does not enter the building through these ground-level windows.

A skilled basement contractor can provide many more details about the requirements for basement egress windows. When these are installed between floor joists and foundations, they may need to include specific types of materials for construction and precise sizes intended to ensure structural solvency. Contractors with a experience in installing basement windows can provide accurate costs, and sometimes even make estimates for energy savings, as well as any details on how these types of openings are generally added to a specific kind of building exterior.

Basement egress windows are just one part of a common overall addition to a basement space. Knowing more about the basic requirements will help building owners plan projects. Anyone with any remodeling idea for a below-ground space should think carefully about how to include these key safety features.


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