Egress Windows: What you need to know

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Egress windows are required as part of the fire code in Winnipeg because they provide an exit in bedrooms and basements to homeowners in the case of an emergency. Egress windows are a fairly new addition to the fire code so depending on the age of your home they may not have been required at the time of construction but they would be required now.

To answer any questions you may have about egress windows Green Brand has compiled a list of everything you will need to know. So when you are planning your renovation you can account for these new window requirements.

When should you get an egress window?

The National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) states that bedroom windows must meet the following requirements:

  • Provide a minimum of 5-percent light for the floor area of the room.
  • Must be sized to provide an EMERGENCY ESCAPE.
  • Must be opened from the inside without use of keys, tools, hardware or special knowledge.

While building codes vary by province, the generally acceptable egress window styles include casement and slider.

What is the minimum size for an egress window?

Egress Windows need to provide unobstructed openings with areas no less than 3.77sq. ft. with no dimension less than 15in. To ensure the unobstructed opening meets these criteria, you should measure between the sashes, jambs, sills, and opening mechanisms.

What other rules apply to an egress window?

  • Windows with security bars installed must be operable from the inside without special tools or knowledge.
  • Egress windows cannot be higher than 4ft 11in or 1.5m above the floor.

Required window wells must be at least 30in away from the window to allow for easy exit. Typical basement awning windows do not comply with building codes as they are not large enough to open and allow clear passage.

What do I need to do to make my basement window into an egress window?

In many cases when basement windows are converted into an egress window concrete cutting is required to enlarge the existing window opening.

If this is the case Green Brand will be able to inform you that the opening will need to be enlarged and provide you with that service on the day of installing your egress window.

This work may require a permit from your municipality, so make sure to talk look into the permit requirements in your area to see whether your installation requires any additional approvals.

Be sure to keep in mind that these laws have been put in place to improve homeowner safety. Just as homes are required to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, it’s equally important to have a safe route to escape an emergency. As a path to an exterior door may not be accessible, it’s important to make sure your family has another option if necessary.

Feel free to talk with your Green Brand expert for local municipality Safety Code requirements.