Upstairs Egress Windows

“Exit Requirements from Bedrooms”

Just like your bedroom in your house, your upper level bedroom also needs a window large enough to properly crawl out of in case of a fire. Egress windows are pretty simple in definition. Window companies make it very easy for you to pick the correct size for the bedroom. The only item to pay attention to is that main level windows may have a different egress compliance than upper and basement windows. Most window companies highlight this difference within their many window options, so pay attention to the asterisks (*).

Don’t worry about a requirement for the height of a window as long as it can properly open; however, the bottom of the egress window opening can’t exceed 44” from the finished floor. In other words, when the window is open, the very bottom of the opening cannot be higher than 44” off the floor. I have seen many windows that open to the side of a downtown building that are over this limit, therefore they will not meet the requirements of an egress window. If you do have a window that overlooks your neighbor’s roof, this window will also need to be a rated assembly if you replace it.

The minimum opening area of the egress window is 5.7 square feet. The minimum egress window opening height is 24” high. The minimum egress window opening is 20” wide. The two standard window egress types are shown below. The one to the left is a casement window in which you turn the handle in a clockwise and counterclockwise motion to open and close by a hinge on one side or the other. The window to the right is the window most likely original to your building, which is a double hung or single hung system. This window has a top sash and a lower sash. The lower sash lifts upward to create the opening. Historical double hung windows used weights to help the sash open and close. Today’s double or single hung windows use friction so that there is a tight seal from the outside elements. A single hung window means only the lower sash moves. These are often necessary for tall units so the weight of the top sash does not fall.