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What Is an Egress Window?

An egress window is a window installed below grade; in a basement or on the first story of a tri-level (split-level) house. Let’s explore further what egress windows are, why they're installed, and how to determine if egress windows are right – or required – for your home.

Characteristics of Egress Window Wells:

  • Egress windows are dug from the ground level to the basement level.
  • Egress windows are commonly lined with a window well – an aluminum or plastic lining, or fancier wood, brick or stone creations – to prevent the egress space from eroding.
  • Egress windows are sometimes required by local building codes to provide emergency escape routes for below-ground-level rooms. In these cases, they must be built large enough (5.7 square feet) for an adult to pass through.
  • If improperly maintained, egress window wells can fill with plants, soil, debris and in some cases trap or become home to small animals! If egress windows are constructed or installed improperly, they might allow water to flow into your home. It’s imperative to have your egress window and window well professionally installed to avoid future problems.

What Are the Benefits of Egress Windows?

  • Increased value for your home through making basement living spaces safe and comfortable and up to code
  • Safety for you and your family by providing escape routes in case of fire, carbon monoxide, or other emergencies
  • Increased brightness and air flow in below-ground spaces, which can be dark and stuffy
  • Curb appeal

How to Determine If You Need Egress Windows

  • To count finished basement areas as part of the livable square footage of your home (like adding a basement bedroom to your 3-bedroom home to make it a 4-bedroom house), an egress window is required by law (one for each basement bedroom). So, if you want to increase your living space, it’s a must.
  • Cost might be a factor. Hiring a contractor to install a window and dig an egress could cost a few thousand dollars, on top of lining and cover costs. If you’re handy, you could probably do it under a thousand, though you’ll still need permits and code checks.
  • If your basement is dark, dank, musty or otherwise unpleasant, adding an egress window can make the space a more pleasurable part of your home to enjoy.

Contact Glass Doctor for Expert Egress Window Well Installation

If you’re ready to install an egress window or just want to learn more first, your local experts at Glass Doctor® are ready to help. Let us fix your panes, above and below grade! Schedule an appointment online or contact the Glass Doctor location nearest you to get started.

Even professionally installed egress windows can flood under a deluge of rainwater. Protect your egress windows from flooding with high-quality gutters. Learn more about the importance of gutters from our friends at Mr. Handyman: Does My House Really Need Gutters? Like Glass Doctor, Mr. Handyman is part of the Neighborly™ family of trusted home services professionals.