Answers to Common Questions about Egress Windows

Egress windows are required for every basement in Canadian homes. Also, one window in each bedroom must be an egress style window in order to adhere to the guidelines set forth by the NBCC, or the National Building Code of Canada.

Like most homeowners, you probably have questions about these guidelines, such as “Can casement windows be converted to egress window designs?” and “Do I need a permit to convert my basement windows to egress window styles?” The following article will answer any questions you may have regarding the standards for egress style windows.

Answers to Homeowners’ Questions about Egress Windows

Why Are Egress Windows Needed in My Home?

Egress windows are required by the NBCC for Canadian homes. It is required that every bedroom must have at least one window that is an egress window as well at least one window in the basement. It is possible to have egress casement windows in these rooms. These windows are installed to provide a quick, safe, and easy escape in the unfortunate event of a fire or other emergency situation.

What Are The General Guidelines for Egress Windows?

  1. Egress windows in the bedroom must be more than 1.5 feet (ca. 46 cm) higher than the floor.
  2. Bedroom egress windows require an area no less than 3.8 ft2 (2.49 m).
  3. Egress windows must not have the dimension less than 15 inches (380 mm).
  4. Any security bars on your windows have to be able to be taken off easily from inside the home without using the aid of detailed instructions or additional tools.
  5. If your home already has an installed sprinkler system, you are not required to have an egress window.

*NB: When measuring your windows to see if they meet the above requirements, do so between the opening components as well as the sashes, sills, and window jambs.

What Are the Specific Requirements for Bedroom Egress Windows?

  1. Bedroom egress windows must adhere to the above standards.
  2. Egress bedroom windows must be able to be opened easily and rapidly and shall not require the use of additional implements or directions.
  3. At least five percent of natural light must fill the bedroom floor at all times. In addition, there must be sufficient airflow year round.

What Are the Specific Guidelines for Basement Egress Windows?

  1. Basement egress windows must have some type of stepping mechanism, such as a stair or step ladder, in order to provide an easy, fast, and safe escape should an emergency arise.
  2. The window well for basement egress windows must be 760 mm from the wall with an opening of 30 inches (0.76 m) in depth.

What Else Do I Need to Know about Egress Windows?

  1. Keep in mind if you have recently installed slider or casement windows, these might already meet the above criteria for egress windows.
  2. Sometimes, the process of converting basement windows to egress windows will involve cutting into the concrete wall of the basement. It is best to have this work done by a professional contractor to meet the building codes and protect the structural integrity of your home.
  3. You may need a permit to convert your existing windows to egress style windows. Check your local ordinances to see if a permit is indeed required before you start the work to avoid any delays or additional fines and expenses.

Do you have any more questions about egress windows? Give us a call! At Total Home Windows and Doors, we are extremely knowledgeable about the above guidelines. Moreover, we can assist you with the process of converting your existing windows to egress style windows.