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Kaplan ITA's Monthly Inspection Tips - Free Electronic Newsletter

March, 2004
Bedroom Egress Windows
Issue #23

Dear Inspector,

This month I would like to discuss bedroom egress windows. As most of us are aware, any sleeping room requires secondary exit (egress) directly to the exterior. Some bedrooms are equipped with an exterior door, which of course would qualify as an exit.

Many homes do not have this luxury and provide egress via a window. Any exit window requires a sill not more than 44-inches from the interior finished floor. The openable portion must have 5.7 square feet of opening to allow escape or fire personnel entry. The 2003 IRC has an exception for windows with direct grade access, they may have 5 square feet of opening.

Egress windows are also required to have minimum opening dimensions. The minimum open space width is 20-inches, the minimum height is 24 inches. See the table below for the correlating width or height to meet the minimum size of 5.7 square feet.

Of course many older homes (the egress requirement has been in the Codes for about 35 years) may not have proper size and/or placed windows. In this instance I use modern standards as my guide and recommend to the clients to consider upgrading the window size for increased safety.

Additional tip: When the windows are casement style (side hinged) open the window and be sure it does not strike the fascia board or other obstruction to prevent full opening of the sash. I have found this condition several times, particularly in townhomes.

Code Check Building, published by the Taunton Press, has tables for determining proper opening for egress windows with both the 5.7 and 5.0 square feet requirements.

Here is a sample of the information available.

Clicking this sample will take you to the Kaplan website to view all Code Check books.

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We'll talk next month,

Mike Casey
Kaplan Professional Schools
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