Basement Egress Windows: Why You Need Them

Basement egress windows can provide you with an escape route in case of emergency, and they are legally required in Ontario. Read on to learn more about the laws surrounding them and then contact Budget Windows & Doors to do the installation.

Basement Egress Windows: Why You Need Them

Basement Egress Windows: Why You Need Them

An egress window is a window that is large enough for you to escape out of your home in case of a fire or other emergency that requires you to get outside.

An egress window isn't one particular style of window; they can be sliders or casement windows. However, they need to be large enough and easy enough to operate if there is an emergency.

If your basement has a bedroom or if you are going to be renovating your basement to include a bedroom, you need to install a basement egress window.

It is a Legal Requirement to Install Basement Egress Windows:

In Ontario, the Ontario Building Code requires that every floor that contains a bedroom in a suite must have at least one outside window that can be opened from the inside without the use of a tool. 'Every floor' includes your basement.

An egress window needs to be large enough for you to escape out of your home in case of a fire or other emergency

This window needs to have an unobstructed open portion that is at least 0.35 m2. Read on for further details on sizing.

The National Building Code of Canada is even stricter, in that it states that every basement bedroom, unless you have a sprinkler system installed, has to have its own egress window - not simply one window for the whole basement.

In Ontario, you are governed by the Ontario Building Code. You are free to install more than one basement egress window if you want to have extra peace of mind.

house fire

Egress windows provide an alternate way of escape during an emergency

Basement Egress Windows Provide an Escape Route:

Basement egress windows can provide you with an alternate escape route during an emergency. They are necessary when your normal escape route, such as a stairway, has been blocked in some way by an obstruction or by fire.

What Are the Size Requirements for Basement Egress Windows?

Both basement and upper level egress windows have the same minimum size requirements. The open part of your window needs to have a total area of no less than 0.35 m2 with no dimension (a length or width) less than 380 mm.

This size refers to the unobstructed opening of your window not the full size of your window. That means the actual part that you could crawl through.

To figure out the unobstructed opening size, you need to measure your window from the inside dimensions, between the sashes, jambs, sills and opening mechanisms.

The figure below shows 3 different window shapes and their total area. Figure A and Figure B both meet the requirements for total area being more than 0.35 m2 and no width or length less than 380 mm.

Figure C, however, does not meet the minimum area required even though both its length and width meets the minimum length requirement.

Egress windows need to have a minimum unobstructed opening of 0.36 m2

What Style Makes the Best Basement Egress Windows

In general, the three best styles of windows to use as egress windows are:

Casement: A casement window is hinged along the side of your window and opens out to the left or to the right with the use of a crank.

Vertical Slider: A vertical slider has two separate panes of glass or sashes. If it is a single hung window, then the top pane does not move but the bottom one can be opened up or down. If it is a double hung window, then both sashes can be moved up or down.

Horizontal Slider: This type of window has two panes of glass, usually with one that slides open to the left or the right. One pane may be fixed with the other one able to be moved or both panes may be moveable.

*Please Note: An awning style window is not a recommended style for an egress window. This is because it is hinged along the top edge and opens upwards. The window pane will cause an obstruction and can impede your exit because it doesn't open fully up.

What about Security Bars?

If you have security bars installed on your basement or upper egress windows; they need to be able to be operated from the inside and opened without the use of any special tools. In an emergency, you don't want to be fumbling around looking for a tool to open up your escape route.

window wells for egress windows

Window wells need to have a clearance of at least 550mm Source: HomeSpot HQ

Special Requirements for Basement Egress Windows

Because of their location, basement egress windows have some special rules that are not required with above ground level egress windows.

Distance above the Floor: According to the law, egress windows cannot be more than 1.5 m above the floor. This is so that they are easy to climb out of. However basement windows are usually higher than 1.5 m above the floor.

It is a good idea that you either have a piece of furniture secured firmly underneath your window or your build a step that will make it easy to get up to your basement egress window in a hurry.

Window Wells: If your basement egress window opens into a window well, then you are required to have a clearance of at least 550 mm in front of the window. This is to give you enough space to get out.

If you are replacing a basement window with an egress window, you may need to have a professional cut a larger opening in the concrete - Source: 1stChoiceGlassBlock

How to Convert Your Basement Windows to Proper Egress Windows

Often, when you are converting your basement window to an egress one, you will need to enlarge the existing opening for the window.

This will usually require cutting into the concrete to make the hole bigger. It is usually best to hire a professional to do this for you.

Your window replacement company can do the correct measurements for you to ensure that your new egress window meets regulations. You will probably also require a permit to do the enlargement. Once the opening has been made bigger, you can install your new window.

You Can Trust Budget Windows & Doors to Install and Repair Your Egress Windows

If you need to install basement egress windows in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Stratford or surrounding areas, contact Budget Windows & Doors.

We are a locally owned and operated business that knows the requirements of this area, and we are highly experienced to do the job right.

We have over 20 years of experience in the window and doors industry, and we can recommend the right solution to maximize the value you get from your home improvement dollar.

“We must tell you how pleased we are with the high-quality windows and installation your firm has supplied. . . These gentlemen worked full-out until completion, coping with features unique to our house with competence and admirable skill. . . At the end of a major project like this, when we can say we are pleased, impressed and satisfied, that’s high praise indeed.” [. . .Read More] – D. & L. Luelo

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