Egress FAQ’s


Q: Can I use a regular window as an egress window?

Egress windows must meet very strict criteria. Egress windows must have a minimum clearance opening of 5.7 square feet. It must have a minimum clearance opening height of 36 inches. The window must also have a minimum clearance opening width of 20 inches. The window must be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge. The window must also be installed properly. It must have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor. Any window can be considered an Egress Window as long as it meets or exceeds these criteria. 

Q: Can I use landscape ties or landscape blocks to form an egress well?

 Yes, however, you will need to follow the criteria required of the wells. The minimum horizontal area of the window well shall be 9 square feet (0.9 m2), with a minimum horizontal projection and width of 36 inches (914 mm). The area of the window well shall allow the Egress Window to be fully opened. If the Window well has a vertical depth greater than 44 inches it shall be equipped with a permanently affixed ladder or steps usable with the Egress Window in the fully open position. The ladders or steps shall have a width of at least 12 inches, shall project at least 3 inches, from the wall and shall be spaced not more than 18 inches, on center vertically for the full height of the window well. 

Q: Are there any types of Egress Wells that don’t require pea gravel as a backfill?

 Due to their strong fiberglass construction, the Rockwell Egress Wells do not require pea gravel as a backfill.

Q: Should I use a Cover or a Grate?

 Depending on your specific needs, covers keep the weather out of the Egress Well while offering a degree of insulation. They aslo keep debris from collecting in the bottom of the well. Many covers and grates are safe for moderate foot traffic. Grates allow fresh air to enter into an open Egress Window.

Q: Why would I want to use a well cover or grate?

Well covers and grates are a very important safety features. They prevent accidental falls into the window well. They also keeps yard debris and leaves from collecting in the bottom of the well. As well as keeping snow out of the well in winter. 

Q: I have an older house; do I need to comply with the new Building Code for Egress?

If you are adding new living space (especially a bedroom) to your basement where it was previously an unfinished space, it is most likely that you will need to comply with the current building codes.

Q: Do I need to have more than one Egress Window to cover a large room in the basement?

Based on code requirements for natural light and ventilation, if a given room in a basement is larger than 200 square feet, then most likely, Yes. To meet code for natural light, the glass area (in square feet) of the egress window must be at least 8% of the total floor area of the room that the Egress Window is servicing. To meet code for ventilation, the opening area (in square feet) of the egress window must be at least 4% of the total floor area of the room that the Egress Window is servicing. Based on the code, one 48” x 48” Egress Slider Window can service a room up to roughly 200 square feet. You are allowed to use multiple Egress Windows in a single room to meet the minimum needs for natural light and ventilation that the code requires. 


Contact us today to answer any additional questions you may have regarding egress code and requirements for your specific needs.


9249 Great North Trail
Traverse City, MI 49684




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