Egress Window FAQs

  • What does egress mean?
  • Pronounced “ee-gres,” as a noun, it is a means of going out; an exit. As a verb, it means “to go out; emerge.” So an Egress Window is a window that offers a means of going out. In other words, it’s an exit window.

  • Why would I want an egress window?
  • Egress windows offer several benefits: they let a lot of light into the basement, they turn a basement room into a legal bedroom, they increase safety by having a secondary fire escape, they increase your property value with the addition of an extra bedroom, and they create a more enjoyable space without the feeling of being in a basement.

  • Why is an egress window so important to the safety of my family?
  • 95% of the homes built have a stairway that comes up from the basement into the kitchen or directly off the kitchen in the house. Most home fires originate in either the kitchen or the laundry room of a home. If the fire occurs in the kitchen you and/or your family members can become trapped in the basement. The egress system will enable you to safely exit the basement to a safe place outside the house.

  • Does your work come with a warranty?
  • Yes. All of our work comes with a Lifetime Warranty and our egress windows come with our Exclusive No-Leak Guarantee!

  • Is the installation done to code?
  • Yes, all of our work is compliant with the current International Residential Code (IRC) Egress Code for family dwellings.

  • How long does an installation take?
  • Most projects can be completed within a day or two. Weather, soil conditions, and the complexity of the window well design make this a bit of a variable, but typically a day or two.

  • Does installing an egress window make a big mess in my home?
  • Cutting the hole in the basement wall can create a lot of cement dust and exhaust. However, we take extensive precautions to control all dust, exhaust fumes, and mess. We lay runners over any walk areas to/from the egress work area and install vertical containment poly sheeting to control any dust/debris from transferring to the rest of your home. When possible, we will pull back any existing basement carpeting and pad to keep it out of the work area completely so that it does not get dirty or wet. Unlike other companies, when we cut your foundation wall, we do all of our cutting from the outside. This means the bulk of any exhaust fumes are kept outside of your home. Also, we use wet saws to control dust with water. After the final cleanup of the work area inside, your home will be broom clean or better. There may be a little dust here and there because this is a big project, but we make sure that it is as minimal as possible so that you don’t have a big mess to clean up.

  • What will happen to my lawn?
  • Well there is an awful lot of dirt to be moved for the installation of the window well and a lot of equipment is required to do it. Plywood can be laid down on the grass to minimize lawn stress. There may still be depressions from the weight and movement of the equipment, but within a couple of weeks of proper watering, your lawn should return to its normal state. We pile the excavated soil onto a tarp to keep the soil separated from the lawn itself. Once the excavated soils are hauled off, we rake the lawn in that area to bring it back up. At the area of the excavation itself, the last 6” of soil to go around the well will be your original soil. When possible, we also reset as much of the original sod as we can. We then rake everything out and spread grass seed to fill in the damaged areas. From there, the lawn will again just need proper watering and care to return to its previous state of health.

  • What about my landscape and irrigation?
  • Typically we are able to disconnect any landscape edging and then reset it when we are done with the egress installation so that the edging comes right into the new well itself. We will set back available landscape fabric, mulch, stones, and other basic landscaping materials as best we can with what is available. With the irrigation, oftentimes there is enough piping to go around our new egress well. We simply reroute the irrigation line around the well as we are backfilling. If there is not enough existing piping, then we leave the irrigation piping on both sides of the well sticking out of the ground and seal the ends with duct tape. This allows you or your landscaper to very easily splice in a new section of irrigation line.

  • Will my egress window fill up with water?
  • We take several preventative measures to ensure that water is managed and properly directed away from the home. Unlike other companies that only dig deep enough to install the well, we excavate all the way down to your footing. This allows us to remove all of the soil that may not drain well in a heavy rain or snow thaw and back fill with gravel for proper drainage. We install a drain pipe down and away from your home and the well to approximately 8-10 feet out and away from your home. Our wells sit approximately 3-6 inches above the surrounding grade so that we can create a slope that will direct rain water out and away from the home and well. We inspect your existing yard grade, gutters and downspouts and may make recommendations to also manage water and direct it away from your home – this is good not only for the egress window system, but also for your home itself. Also, we strongly recommend an egress well cover for any window on the eave side of your home. In the event of clogged gutters or a heavy downpour, the gutters could overflow and dump right into the well. The cover will prevent this water from entering the well and is designed to shed water away from the house.

  • Can I use a double hung window?
  • Yes. These windows need to be a bit bigger to meet code, but it can be done and they look great. We can help you select a proper size.

  • Can I use a slider/glider type window?
  • Yes. Historically, this was not a good choice as the gliding hardware did not work well, but with modern improvements to the hardware most gliders work quite well. An added benefit of this style is that you can remove both panes and have a wide opening to move couches and other large objects in and out of your basement.

  • Can I use a casement/crank-out type window?
  • Yes. This is the most common style that we install for an egress, as it minimizes the cutting for the rough opening size and maximizes the window opening.

  • What if I have a bedroom in the basement?
  • If you have a bedroom in the basement, the egress window system must be located within the bedroom. If you have two bedrooms in the basement, two egress window systems must be installed, one within each bedroom.

  • Are egress window secure against unauthorized entry?
  • Egress windows have double locking systems, so you are just as secure as any other well-constructed window in your home.

  • Can I have an egress window installed anywhere in the basement?
  • For the most part, yes you can. Don’t limit your design possibilities with only modifying an existing window space.

  • Do you obtain the building permit or do we have to?
  • We obtain all necessary building permits. The city building inspector will be checking for the proper height of the window and well. It must be low enough for children to climb out and it must be big enough for emergency crews to enter, along with checking that all the proper building codes have been met.

  • Can I use a regular window as an egress window?
  • Egress windows must meet certain very strict criteria. First, it must have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet. It must have a minimum net clear opening height of 36 inches. The window must also have a minimum net clear opening width of 20 inches. The window must be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge. Lastly, the window must also be installed properly. The window must have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor. Therefore any window can be considered an Egress Window as long as it meets or exceeds all of these criteria.

  • Should I use a Cover or a Grate?
  • This depends on your specific needs. Covers keep the weather out of the Egress Well, offer a degree of insulation, and keep debris from collecting in the bottom of the well. Also, some covers and grates are safe for foot traffic up to 500 pounds which helps protect against accidental fall-ins.

  • I have an older house; do I need to comply with the new Building Code for Egress?
  • Always check with your local authorities to confirm what codes apply to your specific project. However, if you are adding new living space (especially a bedroom) to your basement where it was previously an unfinished space, it is most likely that you will need to comply with the current building codes.

  • Do I need to have more than one Egress Window to cover a large room in the basement?
  • If a given room in the basement is larger than 200 square feet, then most likely, Yes. To meet code for natural light requirements, the glass area (in square feet) of the egress window must be at least 8% of the total floor area of the room that the Egress Window is servicing. To meet code for ventilation requirements, the opening area (in square feet) of the egress window must be at least 4% of the total floor area of the room that the Egress Window is servicing. Based on the code, one 48” x 48” Egress Slider Window can service a room up to roughly 200 square feet. You are allowed to use multiple Egress Windows in a single room to meet the minimum needs for natural light and ventilation that the code requires.

  • Is installing an egress window a Do-It-Yourself Project?
  • We do not recommend putting in an egress window yourself as a DIY project. In fact, many “professionals” do not fully understand the complexity and risks involved. Every year we are paid to remove egress windows installed by other contractors that failed to perform as designed. Our system works and has been developed over years so that we can stand confidently by giving out clients our exclusive Lifetime No-Leak Guarantee. Also, once the project is completely and you see the amount of equipment, men, materials, and work that is required to successfully complete your egress window installation, you will be thankful that you didn’t do it yourself. If you want to take part in the project to create some “sweat equity” you can certainly consider digging the hole yourself. This can save you some money and help you to protect your plants and landscape. Also, you could choose to do the interior finishing work yourself to save on that expense as well.

  • I’m finishing a basement and my contractor said I don’t have to worry about an Egress Window. Is he right?
  • If you are adding any type of living space to your basement whether it be; a home office, playroom, den, media room, man cave, or especially a bedroom, the applicable code most likely requires a means of egress. Check with your local authorities to find out what codes apply in your situation.

  • The spot where I would need to add an Egress Window Well is underneath a deck or porch. Am I allowed to do this?
  • Egress Window Wells are allowed to be installed under decks and porches provided the location of the deck allows the emergency escape window to be fully opened and provides a path not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in height to a yard or court. And the emergency egress openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge.

If you are interested in egress windows in Kalamazoo, call All-Star Remodeling & Design at 269-342-6356 or complete our online request form.

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