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What You Should Know About Window Well Egresses

Window well egresses are a necessity more than a luxury, though they offer some benefits beyond the basic requirements as well. Learn what window egresses are, including the building codes and design options, to find out if your basement needs them. Whether you’re building a new home or renovating your current one, you can ensure your family’s safety with professionally installed window well egresses

Drainage & Erosion Solutions provides egress window installation and repair services in Washington, DC. We are a design-build firm with over 40 years of experience in commercial and residential projects. We approach drainage solutions with a holistic perspective, considering how your interior and exterior systems work together. To learn more about how we develop drainage systems, contact us at (703) 534-1949.

Below, we outline what you should know about window well egresses:

What Are Window Well Egresses?

Window egresses are located in basements for emergency escape purposes, such as in the event of a fire. They must have a clear landing, or well, excavated around them, which should be accessible to children and adults. Moreover, individuals should be able to open the window manually, without the help of tools.

Not every basement needs an egress, but you’ll need one if you plan to use your basement as a living space. Even if you have a walkout basement with a door, you may still need window egresses in your basement bedrooms. Moreover, all windows that are below grade must have an egress well.

What Are the Requirements for Egresses?

Home builders incorporate window egresses in floor plans that include habitable basement space. On the other hand, homeowners who have an unfinished basement may need to add egresses to finish the basement with habitable rooms. 

Local building codes can vary regarding window egresses, though they should generally follow the International Residential Code with stipulations for:

  • The size of the window
  • The distance between the basement floor and window
  • The distance between the well floor and the ground 
  • The dimensions of the well
  • The height of the egress ladder 

You should also ensure that your egress has appropriate drainage to prevent flooding and water damage. There are different methods for egress drainage, depending on your existing drainage system. Some egresses feature a drain that slopes towards the perimeter of your property. Others may connect to the sump pump inside your home.

Window Egress Designs

Window Well Egress Washington, DC

Although window egresses are required for safety standards, they also offer design value to your home. You can select a style that complements your home’s exterior and provides natural light, making your basement feel brighter and more spacious.

Keep in mind how the style of your egress will influence your view. For example, egress windows that are below grade will face the well. In that case, you can select bricks, stone, or wood both to retain the excavated area and make it more visually appealing. 

You can also expand your egress well to provide a better view and create a patio or garden. Additionally, incorporate a walkway, retaining wall, and stairs for easier access and better design flow. 

To make your egress more natural, you can add plants and rocks, as long as there is enough room. Or, you can build tiers into the walls of the well for planting vines and extra foliage. If you prefer a closed well, you can cover it for safety or privacy, though it must open without the help of tools. 

Professional Window Well Egress Installation in Washington, DC

There are unique possibilities for every window well egress design. Turn to the professionals at Drainage & Erosion Solutions to install one that complements your home. We are experienced with all types of egress windows and we always use the best quality materials. Moreover, we offer the most reliable warranties in Washington, DC. Contact us at (703) 534-1949 to schedule an assessment