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What You Should Know About Egress Window Wells

An Egress Window Well is a kind of basement window enclosure that surrounds the below-grade window on a house. There are several reasons for an egress well, one being it allows for natural light to enter into the basement. More importantly, an egress well serves as a safe emergency exit from the basement in case of a fire or other emergency. Usually, it is constructed according to a terraced design in which the terrace provides a kind of stepping stool that leads from the window, up to the ground level. In some cases, an egress well is actually a ladder built into the interior walls, serving as an emergency exit as well. Well systems can vary in depth and can be covered from above with a transparent cover that will allow light into the basement while keeping animals and children safe from falling into the well.

These window well systems are essential if a below-grade window is installed on the house. The wells function to keep soil and other elements from covering the window. They retain the earth surrounding the home's foundation so pressure is not placed on the window or the frame. Not all wells are egress systems but egress wells have several unique advantages that you should know about.

About Safety:

Our systems offer a code-compliant ingress which is important for preventing access to hazardous areas and will protect the equipment inside the enclosure against the entrance of foreign objects. To clarify, ingress is the right to enter while egress is the right to exit. Fire can spread very quickly throughout a home in less than 2 minutes. The points of access are large enough to allow firefighters in full gear to enter the basement in order to rescue adults and/or children who otherwise cannot escape. The Wellcraft Egress System meets all legal requirements of the 2012 IRC International Residential Code, Section R310.

Low Maintenance:

The Wellcraft wells are of high-quality construction and provide great durability with UV protected polyethylene. They are designed to deliver low-maintenance and crafted from polyethylene and UV inhibitors for superior weathering capabilities. This incredibly tough material will resist impacts and abrasions along with preventing rusting, fading, and cracking. All parts are backed by a limited warranty.

Adds Beauty To Your Home:

Many homeowners have turned what used to be a drab damp basement into a comfortable living area that's dry and inviting. Depending on the size of the basement, there might be one or two bedrooms, an office, possibly a room for entertainment and games, or a home theater. The Wellcraft system will offer a beautiful touch by enhancing the quality of the living area with fresh air and sunlight. Your basement will have a very comfortable, and open feeling to it.

If you are planning to remodel your basement, you should be fully up on the local building codes egress requirements. Many areas are now requiring good emergency exits for basements and good emergency entries for firefighters or other rescue workers, in the event of a fire. So not only will your window system make your home more beautiful but allow natural light into the basement while providing an excellent way to meet your local basement egress window requirements.

Egress Window Well Options

The 5600 Modular Well -

This well has modular locking sections with an appealing maintenance-free design. The conventional installation uses 4 sections and is very easy to install. The 5600 is designed for windows that are up to 4-foot wide. Each section weighs only 24 pounds and is very easy to move.

Wellcraft 2060 60" High Window Well Diagram

The 2060 Single Unit Well -

The 2060 model is offered as an all in one easy to install window well with build in stairs. The unit will support up to a 4' wide egress window and is compatible with all 3 type of Egress Windows offered by Wellcraft:
27" x 45" In-Swing 
48" x 48" Left-hand Slider
29" x 47" In-Swing Acrylic Block 
The 2060 model comes in both Standstone and Granite Gray color options depending upon the project requirements and also has the option of an additional 12" extension which will increase the total height to 72". 

Know The Building Code 

“Building Planning Codes IRC Code Section R310"



R310.1 Emergency escape and rescue required. Basements and every sleeping room shall have at least one operable emergency and rescue opening. Such opening shall open directly into a public street, public alley, yard or court. Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, emergency egress and rescue openings shall be required in each sleeping room, but shall not be required in adjoining areas of the basement. Where emergency escape and rescue openings are provided they shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) above the floor. Where a door opening having a threshold below the adjacent ground elevation serves as an emergency escape and rescue opening and is provided with a bulkhead enclosure, the bulkhead enclosure shall comply with Section R310.3. The net clear opening dimensions required by this section shall be obtained by the normal operation of the emergency escape and rescue opening from the inside. Emergency escape and rescue openings with a finished sill height below the adjacent ground elevation shall be provided with a window well in accordance with Section R310.2. Emergency escape 52 2006 INTERNATIONAL RESIDENTIAL CODE® and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.
Exception: Basements used only to house mechanical equipment and not exceeding total floor area of 200 square feet (18.58 m2).
R310.1.1 Minimum opening area. All emergency escape and rescue openings shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5.7 square feet (0.530 m2).
Exception: Grade floor openings shall have a minimum net clear opening of 5 square feet (0.465 m2).
R310.1.2 Minimum opening height. The minimum net clear opening height shall be 24 inches (610 mm).
R310.1.3 Minimum opening width. The minimum net clear opening width shall be 20 inches (508 mm).
R310.1.4 Operational constraints. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys, tools or special knowledge.
R310.2 Window 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 emergency escape and rescue opening to be fully opened.
Exception: The ladder or steps required by SectionR310.2.1 shall be permitted to encroach a maximum of 6 inches (152 mm) into the required dimensions of the window well.
R310.2.1 Ladder and steps. Window wells with a vertical depth greater than 44 inches (1118 mm) shall be equipped with a permanently affixed ladder or steps usable with the window in the fully open position. Ladders or steps required by this section shall not be required to comply with Sections R311.5 and R311.6. Ladders or rungs shall have an inside width of at least 12 inches (305 mm), shall project at least 3 inches (76 mm) from the wall and shall be spaced not more than 18 inches (457 mm) on center vertically for the full height of the window well.
R310.3 Bulkhead enclosures. Bulkhead enclosures shall provide direct access to the basement. The bulkhead enclosure with the door panels in the fully open position shall provide the minimum net clear opening required by Section R310.1.1. Bulkhead enclosures shall also comply with Section R311.5.8.2.
R310.4 Bars, grilles, covers and screens. Bars, grilles, covers, screens or similar devices are permitted to be placed over emergency escape and rescue openings, bulkhead enclosures, or window wells that serve such openings, provided the minimum net clear opening size complies with Sections R310.1.1 to R310.1.3, and such devices shall be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool, special knowledge or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening.
R310.5 Emergency escape windows under decks and porches. Emergency escape windows are allowed to be installed under decks and porches provided the location of the deck allows the emergency escape window to be fully opened and provides a path not less than 36 inches (914 mm) in height to a yard or court.”
The Different Kinds Of Wells: