All About Egress Windows
A few words on Energy Efficiency
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Most Common Code Requirements
- Base of Window should be no more than 44″ from the floor
- Window opening must be a minimum of 5.7 square feet. Not the window itself, but the opening when fully opened. Window type plays a big role here.
- Opening must be minimally 20″ wide and 24″ high. 29″ x 41″ is the absolute smallest window size. Don’t use super skinny or flat designs.
- Must be easy to open from inside without any advanced brainpower or strength-training.
- Must have a large window well. Minimum 36″ wide from the glass of the opened window to the side of the area well. At least 9 square feet of clear space in the area window well.
- Wells more than 44″ deep should have steps or ladder to climb out.
- Well should extend at least 8″ on all sides of the window to prevent water damage and wood rot around the window.
Some cities have slight modifications to this and I will make sure all local codes are met. But these are the basic rules.
Glossary of Terms
Awning Window: Hinged window that opens by swinging out and upwards. Hinges are on the top. This is not a good choice for an egress window style as it cannot be fully opened easily for an emergency exit.
Brick Mould: Outside casing around window to cover jambs and through which nails are driven to install the window.
Bucks: Framing Stud, usually a 2″ by 10″ used as a rough frame in the foundation opening.
Casement window: Crank Out Window that is hinged on the side and swings out sideways. This is a very good choice for an egress window.
Casing: Casing is a flat, decorative moulding that covers the inside edge of the jambs and the rough openings between the window unit and the wall.
Cripples: The short 2″ x 4″ members used to frame under the sill or above the header in a rough opening for a window in a frame wall.
Double glazing: Use of two panes of glass in a window to increase energy efficiency and provide other performance benefits.
Double hung window: A window with two vertical operating sashes that slide up and down. These can work well for egress windows if the opening is large enough.
Drip cap: A moulding placed on the top of the head brick mould or casing of a window frame.
Egress window: A window large enough, as defined by local building codes, for exit or entry in case of an emergency. Typically required in bedrooms.
Fixed Window: Non-venting or non-operable. Does not pass code as an “egress windoow” since it does not open.
Flashing: A metal or plastic strip attached to the outside of the head or side jambs to provide a weather barrier, preventing leakage between the frame and the wall.
French Drain: A large hole or pit dug and refilled with loose gravel to absorb a very large volume of water without appearing to be a large pit.
Gasket: A pliable, flexible continuous strip of material used to affect a watertight seal between sash and frame of roof windows much like the seal around a refrigerator door.
Glazing: The putty-like compound used to seal the glass to the window frame.
Head: The main horizontal member forming the top of the window or door frame.
Header: A heavy beam extended across the top of the rough opening to prevent the weight of wall or roof from resting on the window frame.
Hopper: A small 1×2 ft. window with a top sash that swings inward.
Impact Resistant Glass: Single or double pane construction made up of laminated glass containing a .090 interlayer. Door windows require this type of glass.
Jack stud: Framing Stud or Bucks. Framing members, generally 2″ x 10″s, which form the inside of the window rough opening. They run from the sill to the header, which is supported by them.
Keeper: The protruding, hook-shaped part of a casement window lock, which is mounted on the inside surface of the sash stile.
Leak Value: Measurement of gas flow through the window. Should be less than 0.3 cfm/sq.ft.
Lift: handle or grip installed on the bottom rail of the lower sash of a double-hung window to make it easier to raise or lower the sash.
Low-E glass: A common term used to refer to glass which has low emissivity due to a film or metallic coating on the glass or suspended between the two lights of glass to restrict the passage of radiant heat.
Molding: An ornamental exterior trim around the perimeter of a frame.
Mullion: The vertical or horizontal divisions or joints between single windows in a multiple window unit.
Muntin: A short bar used to separate glass in a sash into multiple lights. Also called a grid, a windowpane divider or a grille.
R-VALUE: The resistance of a material to heat flow. This common measurement is the reciprocal of the U-Value. R-Value can be compared to U-Value by dividing 1 by the R-Value. (Thus, an R-Value of 2 equals a U-Value of 0.5.) See U-VALUE.
Rails: The horizontal members of a window sash or door panel.
Shims: Wood wedges used to secure the window or door unit in the rough or masonry opening in a square, level and plumb position during and after installation.
Side lights: Tall, narrow, fixed or operating sash on either or both sides of a door to light an entryway or vestibule.
Sill: Horizontal member that forms the bottom of a window frame.
Slider Window: Also called a Glider Window. Two panes of glass that slide sideways to open. Like a double hung on it’s side. These can work for Egress Windows if the opening is large enough. An added benefit is ease of moving large objects into basement.
Stile: The vertical side member of a window sash or door panel.
Triple glazing: A sash glazed with three lights of glass, enclosing two separate air spaces.
True divided light: A term that refers to windows in which multiple individual panes of glass or lights are assembled in the sash using muntins. Many gridded windows these days are single lites, with decorative grids applied to the glass.
U-Value: A measure of heat transmission through a wall or window. The lower the U-Factor, the better the insulating value. Should be less than 0.35.
Vapor barrier: A watertight material used to prevent the passage of moisture into or through floors, walls and ceilings.
Local Slang that we use
Faceplant: What happens when spearing the front tip of the wheelbarrow on the ramp while running 200 lbs of dirt up the trailer. A good faceplant will subsequently tip over and dump the entire load on the runner and leave purple bruises in the midsection.
Bread Sticks: Fiberglass insulation that has been cut up to fit in between the framing and the window jamb for one of the steps we do to insulate the new window. They are usually about a foot long and a couple inches wide and look like big bread sticks or cheese bread strips from a pizza place.
Blue Dragon: Really old wheel barrow that has seen a better day, but we still use it for nostalgic reasons. Sits in the trailer. Often needs regular repairs on the fly and it’s usually McGyvered to only last until the next day. We use duct tape, any screw or bolts that we can find or retrofit, and often a hammer (most of the time) is used to make things fit back together after it’s been damaged by mini or has fallin apart for some other reason. Inspiration for tetanus vaccinations.
Mini: 2000 IHI Mini Excavator/Crawler.
Diesel: 2004 F-350 truck.
Old timer: 1997 F-150 truck.
Equalizer: 12lb. sledgehammer.
Thingy: Anytime you are trying to describe something and can’t name it, you call it a thingy.
Any other terms out there you need added? Need more clarification? Let the Egress Window Guy know.