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Basement Egress Windows

Most homeowners these days realize that if it is time to sell your house or even just to increase the value with an updated appearance, one of the most cost effective treatments is simply to install new, modern windows. When getting your quotes and deciding on window styles, don’t forget to include the basement windows in your plans. It would be an eyesore to have new sparkling windows all around the house but leave the small dirty rectangles of ancient glass at ground level.

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If you have a fairly new home, your basement windows will be built to codes that require egress windows even in the basement, especially if there is any type of living space there. “Egress” means that the window is large enough—the standard is 24 x 20 inches—to allow a person to escape in the case of fire. Older homes may not have been built to code, but it isn't difficult to cut holes for larger windows and install windows that can be opened easily. The result will be increased light and air to your basement, a better exterior appearance and a higher resale value to your home.

In order to complete egress windows, you may also have to install window wells, especially in older homes. A window well is an area that has been cut away from the basement wall and surrounded by a retaining wall on the outside of the basement. A simple way to build uniform window wells is to use snap-together kits which allow you to do the job yourself. These kits along with a do-it-yourself approach can mean the difference between a few hundred or several thousand dollars in costs over hiring a contractor to do it for you.

Some additional rules apply to basement egress windows. They must be operable from the inside without keys and must be easy for a person to climb through. Casement windows with side hinges and wide openings are best. Double hung windows can also be used but are not always practical as they require larger windows than you might want for your basement. Awning windows are the least preferable because they are hinged at the bottom and require a person to climb over the glass in order to exit.

Once you decide on the type and shape, you will still have lots of choices. You may choose vinyl, wood, or aluminum in the color that matches the rest of your windows. The glass itself can be clear, frosted, or colored, and you will want double glazing for the greatest heating and cooling efficiency.

Start here to find the egress replacement window suitable for your house. You'll be glad you did!

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