What is the purpose of an egress window?
An egress window is a window that provides an emergency means of exiting and must also meet certain size requirements to qualify as an egress window. These types of windows are required in every room that is intended for sleeping, including basements with a habitable room.
The four International Residential Code (IRC) requirements for an egress window are:
- Minimum height opening of 24″
- Minimum width opening of 20″
- Minimum net clear opening of 5.7 sq. ft, or 5 sq. ft. for ground floor
- Maximum sill height above the floor of 44″
Net clear opening is the actual space that is free and clear when the window is opened, where a human can crawl through when necessary. In order for a window to qualify as an egress window, it must meet all
of the above requirements.
Many homes were built before egress window requirements, and newer homes oftentimes lack egress windows that satisfy the state required codes. If you plan on retrofitting new windows for your home, or plan on converting your basement into a bedroom, make sure you know your city’s code requirements for replacing bedroom and basement windows, as doing so will prevent a dangerous underground firetrap for you and your family.