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What are Egress Windows?

Installing egress windows as part of a window replacement in Saratoga, CA is a way to increase the safety of a home. Egress windows are designed to be used as a way of escape if a life-threatening event takes place inside the home.

Window styles that are considered egress windows include horizontal sliding windows, vertical sliding windows, and casement windows. Egress windows provide a lot of light and can increase the value of the home.

There are specific regulations and standards for the installation of egress windows that must meet local building and local fire codes, which is why window replacements should be done professionally, because window installation companies are aware of and educated on the most current codes.

Egress windows are generally used in basements, since that is the most common way to exit a house during an emergency situation, but they can also be used in bedrooms if they meet four International Residential Code (IRC) criteria:

  • The minimum width of opening must be at least 20 inches
  • The minimum height of opening must be at least 24 inches
  • The minimum net clear opening must be at least 5.7 square feet
  • The maximum sill height from the floor must be at least 44 inches

Net clear opening is the actual free and clear space when the window is open, not the size of the glass panel. It is the amount of space that a person can crawl through to get out of the house.

Egress windows are required to be operational from the inside of the house with having to use keys or tools. Although window bars, window grills, and window grates may be installed over egress windows, they must be able to open without the use of tools or keys, while still maintaining the net clear opening space required.

To meet the minimum net clear opening, an egress window that is 20 inches wide would need a height of 42 inches. If an egress window has a height of 24 inches, then its width would need to be 34 inches to meet the minimum net clear opening.

While some horizontal and vertical sliding windows can meet the net clear opening requirement, casement windows, which have hinged sashes and swing out from the opening are the best window replacement choice for egress windows. They can be fairly compact, which is a necessity when space is limited (such as in basements) and still meet the net clear opening requirements.

In many older homes, the egress windows that are currently installed in the basement don’t meet the IRC requirements. In some cases, there were no requirements when the home was built, and in other cases, the home was built when the minimum net clear opening requirement was 5 square feet.

The window wells surrounding basement windows must allow them to be fully opened. They must provide a minimum of 9 square feet (36 inches x 36 inches) of floor space. If the depth of the window well is more than 44 inches, then a permanent ladder or steps must to affixed to the wall underneath the egress escape window so people can safely climb out. The ladder must be at least 12 inches wide and be no farther than 3 inches from the window well.

To talk about a basement emergency egress window replacement in Saratoga, CA, you can speak with our knowledgeable staff at California Custom Creations. You can visit our showroom at 1406 Melwood Drive, San Jose, CA 95118, or you can contact us at (408) 316-6293 to make an appointment for a free in-home consultation.

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