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Egress Windows — What Are They and How Can You Waterproof Them?

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You may never really get to appreciate what an egress does in your basement until you have an emergency or embark on a DIY project that requires adequate lighting. But like any installation around the home, they can wear out or get damaged. Seals can weaken and introduce water into the basement. 

In this post, we’ll show you why an egress window system is essential to your safety and steps you can take to ensure yours remains intact. 

egress window system installation

Egress Windows – What Are They? 

An egress window is a type of window that provides an exit out of the basement during an emergency. But that’s not all. They light up the basement area with natural light and eliminate the dungeon feeling associated with basements. Egress is often paired with windows wells that have a ladder to facilitate a faster escape. Local codes stipulate their dimensions and require that these windows be wide enough to let a firefighter in. 

Egress is a requirement in particular areas of a building or home, like the basement. While codes vary from city to city, a standard egress window must adhere to the sizing rules stipulated by the International Residential Code. Windows must meet these conditions, 

  • 5.7 sq. ft. (minimum net clear opening) 
  • 44 inches (maximum sill height) 
  • 20 inches (minimum opening width) 
  • 24 inches (minimum opening height) 

The window must be wide enough for a person to crawl through during an emergency. 

There are various types of basement windows. You can go for casement windows if you want a small window size with hinges that open up wide. The other option is the glider windows (double-hung). These windows take more than half the opening space. To be compliant with local code, you have to make sure they’re bigger than normal basement windows. 

Another option is the awning windows. These tend to swing out, and this makes them less suitable as egress windows. Their opening hardware and hinges are all in the center, and because of this, they can trap you or make exit difficult in an emergency. 

How are Egress Windows Sealed? 

Sealing the egress windows is an essential step toward creating a dry basement. Here’s how your basement contractor in St. Louis, MO, will go about the exercise: 

  1. The contractor first loosens the old or peeling caulk from the egress window frame. 
  2. Dust, caulk particles and dirt are then wiped off from the edges. 
  3. The contractor inserts silicone-latex into their caulking gun. 
  4. Next, they make a 45-degree angle cut on the caulk tip. 
  5. They then squeeze the caulk gun trigger gently releasing caulk that’s roughly ¼” or ½ cm in a long motion until they get to the corner. 
  6. Lastly, they will smooth the caulk before wiping off any excess from the egress. 

The contractor will repeat this procedure if you have multiple windows in the basement. The whole job may take a single day. However, the results will be long-lasting and will have a tremendous impact on the health and the condition of your basement. 

Protecting your egress window 

Sealing the egress window is a step in the right direction. But it’s not enough to keep water out. Over time, the caulk around the window may weaken and introduce water into the basement. As well as re-caulking the egress, it also pays to install a window well cover. This translucent but secure piece not only allows more natural light to bounce off the well and into the basement, but it also can help stop moisture from accumulating and draining into the basement. Don’t forget to replace decaying or damaged frames. 

Grading the area around the basement window also helps stop surface water from flowing to the perimeter of the basement. This can be a lifesaver during a rainstorm or floods when water rises to two or so feet above the ground. 

Do you suspect your egress is letting in water? Want to replace your old basement window? Request a free egress windows repair quote with a trusted local basement contractor in St. Louis, MO. We can help you install an IRC code-compliant windows in your finished basement and reseal any window whose caulk has come off. 

FRS Service Area Map with Des Moines

Our Service Areas

Des Moines Location

2401 SE Creekview Dr.
Ankeny, IA 50021

Kansas City Location

211 SE State Route 150
Lee's Summit, MO 64082
(816) 774-1539

Moberly Location

1401 US-24
Moberly, MO 65270
(660) 202-8662

Springfield Location
1820 N Barnes Ave
Springfield, MO 65803
(417) 612-8286
St. Louis Location

1625 Larkin Williams rd.
Fenton, MO 63026
(314) 207-9995