Guidelines to Egress Basement Windows

Basement windows replacement might not be the first thing that comes to mind when homeowners start planning home renovations. However, all Canadian basement windows must be in compliance with the terms set forth by the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC). Egress windows are required by the fire safety codes of Canada, so homeowners must adhere to these guidelines.

If your basement windows are not egress windows, it might be time for windows replacement. You might need to expand the window wells to comply with the current fire codes. The following article will tell you all you need to know about basement egress windows.

Standards for Egress Basement Windows

According to the NBCC, every bedroom window in Canada must have at least one egress window. This window is to be used in the unfortunate event of an emergency, such as a fire. Moreover, if the residence has a basement, it is also required to have an egress window. Following are the requirements and basement windows sizes of egress windows.

  • Egress basement windows must be able to be opened without special tools or additional instructions.
  • Basement egress windows must have an unobstructed opening area of no less 3.8 ft², the minimum dimension of which must be no less than 15 inches.
  • Residents should not have to climb over or pass through a glass panel during their escape.
  • Any security bars are to be operated via the inside of the house and shall not require any additional instructions or tools in order to be removed.

Requirements of Window Wells for Egress Basement Windows

The basement windows that do not have window wells are required to have them added so that the egress windows will be in compliance with NBCC standards. This could consist of widening your current basement window to meet the requirements or to add a window well if one does not already exist. Following are the requirements of window well sizes for basement egress windows:

  • Window wells with a depth more than 44 inches must be equipped with a permanent step or ladder to provide a safe escape in the case of an emergency.
  • There must be a clearance distance of about 22 inches between the window well and the window itself.

If your window well does not meet these standards, you might require the assistance of a contractor to complete the conversion. It may very well be necessary for them to cut out the concrete to widen the window well. In order to do so, you must acquire the necessary permits before you start the process of converting your basement windows into egress windows. Check with your local municipality to see if a permit is in fact required for this process.

Be sure to check with your local windows and doors company to see if they will be able to cut out the concrete as not all windows companies do this type of job. If this is the case, you should hire an outside contractor and schedule both jobs on the same day to save yourself a lot of hassle.

If you have any questions or are unsure if your basement windows classify as egress windows, contact your local windows and doors supplier. They are up to date on all the current NBCC guidelines and will be happy to assist you.