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Egress Windows: Is it right for me?

Are you looking to turn your home’s basement into a leasable apartment, a bedroom for a family member or just looking to add a little light into the room? Then egress windows are the right choice for you!

When renovating your basement into a livable space, egress windows are a necessity as they act as an emergency exit as per building regulations in case of a fire or hazard. Outlined below is information to consider prior to purchasing windows for your basement to ensure you are making the correct choice for your home and the safety of your family and tenants.

What is an egress window?

An egress window is a type of window that can be easily opened from the inside without using any tools or keys and opens without any difficulties.

As outlined in Ontario residential building codes, every bedroom in a basement must be equipped with an egress window as an emergency exit in case of a fire or hazardous event.

Why is the egress window important?

The purpose of egress windows is to ensure everyone can safely exit from your home in case of an emergency.

If disaster strikes, having a second way out may be the difference between life and death. The safety of you, your family, your tenants, or guests who may be sharing this space with you should be a top priority.

What are the provincial fire code regulations for egress window opening?

  • Area for egress windows: No less than 3.8 ft2 (0.35 m2)

  • Minimum dimension for egress windows: No less than 15 inches (380 mm)

  • The window must be 1.07m from the floor

  • If the egress window opens into a window well, there must be an opening of 550 mm in between your window and the window well.

  • If your window has a sash that swings towards the well, then it cannot reduce the clearance in a way that would prevent a safe exit.

  • The window must stay open without any extra support

What are the requirements for egress bedroom windows?

  • Except where the suite has a sprinkler, each bedroom or combination bedroom shall have at least one outside window or exterior door operable from the inside and without the use of any hardware, tools, keys or detailed directions.

  • Egress bedroom windows must be sufficiently sized to provide a quick & easy escape route in the event of an emergency.

  • The sill height of the window cannot be higher than 1 meter (unless in a basement)

  • Local requirements for basement windows may vary. Check with your municipality officials to learn more about area guidelines in your city/region.