When should you install egress windows?
One of the most common reasons to install an egress window is if you are converting your basement into a secondary suite. An egress window in a secondary suite is usually required unless there is a door on your basement floor that leads directly to the outside.
Many of our customers also choose to install an egress window if there is a family member that lives in the basement. In that case, an egress window can provide a safe means of escape in case of a fire or other emergency.
It is also important to note that an egress window is not required in every bedroom. As long as there is an egress window somewhere on the same level it is in compliance with the Ontario building code.
What are the requirements for egress windows?
The Ontario Building Code sets out requirements for the size, type, and operation of an egress window.
- The window must be operable from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge.
- The window must have an unobstructed opening not less than 3.8 square feet (approximately 30” x 30” brick opening). This size requirement refers to the size of the opening, not simply the area of glass or window. The window must also be able to maintain that opening without requiring additional support.
- The window must not have any dimension that is less than 15”
- In the case of basement windows, often a window well is required. The well must project from the window at least 22” to provide passage to the exterior.
It is also recommended that the window is not higher than 40 inches above the ground. This can be somewhat challenging in a basement. In such cases, some elevation device or piece of furniture can be used to meet this recommendation
Egress Window vs. Escape Window
If you are in the process of converting your basement into a secondary suite, your architect or engineer might say that you need an “escape window”. These are different from regular windows in a few ways:
- Must have an openable portion that is 4.1 Square feet (approximately 31 x 31 brick opening)
- Must not have any dimension that is less than 18”
- The bottom of the window sill must not be higher than 35” than the floor below (can use steps or fixed furniture to meet this requirement)
- The window must open into a window well that has a projection no less than 39”
Egress Window Types
Single or Double Slider Egress Window
Slider windows can be used as egress windows if the open portion of the window is large enough to meet the clear opening requirement of 3.8 square feet. Some companies sell windows that allow the pane to swing out as well but inspectors often don’t pass these. Many basements already have existing slider windows so simply replacing those with a single pane window will allow you to meet egress requirements.
Casement Egress Window
Casement windows are a popular choice for egress windows. These are windows that open outwards using a crank and are often used when there is an obstruction that prevents the windows from opening into the house. Our windows come equipped with specialized hinges that allow the window to open fully into a 22″ window well and create the required clearance for egress windows.
Awning Egress Window
An awning window can be used as an egress window as long as there are no obstructions above to prevent it from opening fully upwards. The sash of the window must also remain in an open position without the use of any additional support. Because awning windows have to support the weight of the sash, there are restrictions on how big the window can be.
Single or Double-Hung Egress Window
Single or double hung windows can serve as egress windows but are not commonly used. Because only the openable portion can count towards the “clear opening” requirement, a single-pane window is often preferred. The openable portion of the hung window needs to remain open without additional support to allow a person to escape and maintain the required opening as per regulations.
Tilt & Turn Egress Window
Tilt and turn windows are windows that swing into the interior of the house. They are a common choice for egress windows as they can be opened fully and provide a large clear opening. They also have the additional functionality of tilting from the top to allow air to circulate in the room.
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