What is an Egress Window Well?

What is an Egress Window Well?An Egress Well is a window or area well having a minimum of nine square feet of surface area and a 36” minimum projection off the foundation wall as require by the current International Residential Code(IRC).

It is designed to be large enough for a fireman outfitted with an air pack to enter the residence to make a rescue, fight a fire or to allow a basement occupant to quickly and safely escape during a fire emergency.

An escape or area well is required by code when any part of an egress window is situated below soil level to keep the soil from filling the hole.

What are Egress Window Wells or Area Wells Types:

Wells be custom fabricated from pressure treated wood, poured cement, block, stone, brick or vinyl as long as they meet code requirements. A fabricated well typical requires a custom made well cover and ladder to meet local requirements.

The easiest to install and most common egress well systems in use today are Prefabricated Egress Wells, Ladders and Covers. They are available from a number of suppliers and are made from galvanized steel, plastic or fiberglass in a variety of widths and heights to meet any need.

What are Egress Window Well requirements?

  • Horizontal projection: = 36 inches minimumWhat are Egress Well requirements?
  • Vertical width: = 36 inches minimum
  • Minimum surface area = 9 sq. ft. (width x projection)

What are Egress Window Well Ladder and Step requirements?

What are Egress Well Ladder and Step requirements?

  • Ladder or Steps are required in Egress Wells deeper than 44?
  • Maximum allowable distance between Ladder Rungs or Steps is 18?
  • Ladder Rungs or Steps must be a minimum of 12? wide
  • Ladder Rungs or Steps must project a minimum of 3? off the well wall; but no more than a maximum of 6? into the well

Are Egress Window Well Covers required by code?

Well covers are not specifically required by the IRC code but many municipalities have added special ordinances when adopting the code requiring covers. These ordinances eliminate the safety problems caused by having many large open holes around homes as well as the issue of wells filling with snow and not being usable. Check with your local building inspector to determine if it is a local requirement.

Why use a Window Well Cover if it is not required?

  • For safety, to keep a person or animal from accidentally falling into the well.
  • To keep rain and snow out of the well.
  • To keep leaves and other debris out of the well.

Typical Egress Well Cover requirements:

  • Shall be removable without special tools.Are Well Covers required by code?
  • Must support 400 pounds to handle a heavy snow load, or to allow a person, animal or child who accidentally steps on the cover not to fall in.
  • Allow light into the well