An egress well or egress window well is a specially designed window well that allows a person or animal to climb out of a basement window in an emergency. They are often required in homes where the basement is being used as living quarters. A window egress well allows a homeowner to count that window as a second exit, making it compliant with fire codes that require sleeping quarters to have two exits in case of fire.
An egress window well saves lives
Perhaps you are familiar with typical concrete or even aluminum window wells, where the sides drop vertically to the bottom and the well is the same size and shape throughout.
This works for the typical use of a window well, which is to allow light and air into basements, making them more livable.
However, with the expansion of building codes designed to expand livable space while saving lives, these tropical wells are not enough in themselves.
An egress window well is larger and sturdier than typical window wells. And it has a built in ladder or steps that a person can use as needed to get out of these deeper wells.
These also work to allow pets or even wild animals to get themselves out if they fall in the window well.
Does every basement need an egress window well?
If hearing the benefits of an egress window well makes you think you need one in your basement, ask yourself these questions:
How will the basement be used?
If the basement will be used as a place for sleeping and expanded living, you will likely be required to offer multiple exits. If the answer to this question is yes, you might need an egress well, read on.
How many exterior exits are in the basement?
If the basement only has one exterior exit, and you plan to make it a sleeping space, you will likely want to add an egress window well. This is a cheaper alternative to building a second door and stairwell, and meets codes in most localities for safety.
How big are your basement windows?
If your basement windows are so narrow a person would have to crawl through them, these windows are not for you.
How much space do you have around your foundation?
You will need several feet of clearance around your foundation. Many urban homes don’t have room for this sort of safety feature.
Check with your local Mar-Flex waterproofing expert for more information on the best way to protect your foundation while creating the most welcoming, livable space you can.