Egress Emergency Exit Windows

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Egress Windows
Egress Windows
Other Names
Emergency Exit Replacement Windows, Basement Safety Windows, Fire Safety Windows, Fire Exit Windows
Windows that allow for an emergency exit from an enclosed space and serve as an entrance for emergency personnel in case of emergency.

Replacement egress windows are a specially designed window solution which allows a homeowner to renovate an enclosed space, such as a basement, as living quarters while meeting local fire codes that provide an emergency exit route.


[edit] Egress Windows

Remodeling a basement or other closed space as a living area requires careful thought to replacement window installation. Not only is it important to bring light and air into a closed area but building codes demand that all bedrooms include an emergency exit which, for most basements, must be a replacement window which can also function as a door. These codes are relatively new, meaning that most houses standing today were not built with an emergency exit window as part of the basement construction. Egress windows, also called "emergency exit windows" address this need.

[edit] Code Requirements

Local regulations vary among localities but most building codes today include the requirement that any bedroom-sized room will incorporate a window that allows for easy exit in case of an emergency or through which rescue personnel can enter if needed. A replacement egress window must be installed at a low enough level to allow for an easy exit in case of emergency.

[edit] Sizes

Codes specify the egress window requirements which generally average at an approximate window opening of 5.7 square feet. Codes may vary slightly, including requirements of whether the window measurements can include the glass area or whether the window area is measured with the window open. For a general rule of thumb, a six square foot replacement egress window will meet almost all building code specifications.

[edit] Installation

Installation of an egress window requires the homeowner to cut a large opening in the basement wall and add a window that will meet the code requirements for an egress window.

When installing the window, it is recommended that the window be no more than 44 inches off of the floor. The window well can be constructed from stone, metal, vinyl or block walls and must measure at least 36 inches wide while extending at least 36 inches out from the window. The well or any steps leading through the well may not interfere with the window's opening. Pre-constructed wells are available for the window's construction.

[edit] Styles

There are two main styles of egress windows, slider windows and casement windows. In addition to the emergency exit benefit, egress windows provide needed light and air to an otherwise dark room with little ventilation so a homeowner will want to use a window that maximizes these capabilities.

[edit] Sliders

Slider windows are similar to a sliding glass door. The pane moves by sliding it open horizontally in the direction of the opposite side of the window. When used as an egress window the slider provides convenient window operation and an attractive window alternative.

[edit] Casements

Casement egress replacement windows are hinged at the side and crank or push open to offer a large ventilation area and an opening which is sufficient to meet building codes. The windows can offer a 20" clearance or more as needed.

[edit] Considerations

Along with the window design, capabilities and options, homeowners should ensure that a replacement egress window offers the best insulation potential for the basement room. Basements are underground rooms which are frequently cold and damp, but with proper remodeling, including good insulation products, a basement room can offer a well-moderated temperature which makes it a comfortable living space.

[edit] Insulated Replacement Egress Windows

A window opening is one of the first points where temperatures can transfer, bringing cold outside air into a warm room or warm outside air into a cool room. Options for energy-efficient replacement egress windows slow that transfer and provide an easier and cheaper temperature control for the basement window.

Energy efficient egress windows may cost more from the outset, but homeowners will find that including energy efficient replacement egress windows in a remodeling plan will save energy costs over the long run. The lower heating and cooling costs that result from well-insulated windows allows the homeowner to recoup the extra expenditure within a few years.

In addition, many government programs including rebates and other promotions present homeowners with attractive incentives which allow them to install energy efficient windows at affordable prices.

[edit] Framing Materials

A replacement window's framing material is one of the first indicators of the energy efficiency of a replacement window. Replacement egress windows are available in vinyl, aluminum, wood, fiberglass and aluminum clad framing alternatives. Egress windows, even those manufactured of similar materials, differ in cost and insulating capabilities. Homeowners should review each framing material choice individually in order to select the most appropriate replacement window for their remodeling job.

[edit] Wood Frames

Both casement and sliding wood frame egress replacement windows are on the market. Simple wood frame windows which do not include exterior cladding may warp or rot unless they are painted or varnished yearly. Many manufacturers add aluminum cladding to the window's exterior which protects the wood and presents a classic look. Aluminum cladding is available in a wide range of colors and meet the U.S. Department of Energy's guidelines for insulation.

[edit] Aluminum

Homeowners should review the grade of aluminum being used in replacement aluminum egress windows. Aluminum is a cold surface and conducts cold temperatures which, when the cold of the outdoors meets the warmth of a warm room, results in a build-up of moisture along the window's edge. Newer grades of aluminum meet this challenge and allow the homeowner to retrofit a quality energy efficient egress window in a basement room.

[edit] Vinyl

Vinyl windows are an additional cost-saving replacement egress window option. Vinyl presents a maintenance free budget window that is sturdy and long-lasting. There are a range of good weather-resistant insulating vinyl windows on the market today. Vinyl is not as strong as other materials so some vinyl frames are reinforced with metal.

[edit] Fiberglass

A relatively new replacement window framing option is the fiberglass window which is available for an egress window retrofit as either a sliding window or as a casement window. Fiberglass windows have a reputation as being a more costly alternative framing material but they provide good insulation for all climates. Costs of fiberglass egress windows vary among vinyl window manufacturers.

[edit] Composite Windows

Composite windows are another new window alternative. The frames of composite windows are factory-manufactured and consist of wood mixed with recycled plastic, vinyl blended with metal or fiberglass with a wood veneer. Composite windows offer a stable egress replacement window with durable structural and adequate thermal insulation.

[edit] Glazing

The glazing that a homeowner selects for an egress window can further insulate the basement. In addition to proper insulating glass panels, replacement egress windows which are exposed to direct sunlight are further protected with a Low-E coating.

As with a replacement egress window's framing costs, insulated glazing presents a higher-cost window at the outset which is balanced by reduced energy costs throughout the lifespan of the window. There are many government programs which offer rebates and other promotions to help homeowners purchase energy-efficient glazed windows.

[edit] Multi-Pane Glazing

Replacement egress windows are available with single, double or triple-pane glass. Multi-pane glass enhances the window's insulation capabilities and produces high thermal resistance.

[edit] Insulating Gas

Some window manufacturers further insulate the window' glazing by pumping insulating gases, such as argon or krypton gases, into the gaps between the window's panes.

[edit] Low-E

Many window manufacturers offer replacement egress windows that come with a coating of Low-E (Low-Emissivity), an invisible metallic oxide which helps to prevent heat loss in cold weather or heat gains in warm weather. Depending on the climate in which the home is located, a homeowner can order one or more than one Low-E coatings to reduce the egress window's rate of heat loss.

[edit] Accessories

Replacement egress windows come with a choice of accessories. Some of these accessories are standard with each window order while others are optional additions.

[edit] Grilles

Grilles are available for replacement egress windows in a range of designs and colors. Grilles can be ordered in a standard size for a standard sized egress window or as a custom order for a special sized window. Grilles may be installed in the factory or purchased as a clip-on option for standard sized replacement egress windows.

[edit] Hardware

A window's hardware is a standard part of any egress window order. Necessary window hardware includes locks, handles and, for a casement egress window, a crank. The homeowner may order the hardware in hard plastic, brass or bronze. Each hardware option is priced differently.

[edit] Interior Trim

Interior wood moldings are available for egress windows. These moldings are sold by many window manufacturers though a homeowner may wish to check out additional options at a lumber yard or a home center.

[edit] Screens

Installation of good quality screens is an important standard component of replacement egress windows, especially since egress windows are often placed at ground or near-ground level. Screens not only protect against insects but also prevent small animals or other creatures from entering the basement room through the window.

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