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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    3,473

    Default Height of Egress Window Well

    I saw this at a less than 1 year old house today. The builder put a deck over the rear patio and had to install a section of curved plywood to raise the height of the egress window well to reach all the way to the top of the window well opening. The well has no ladder and the surface of the metal grate is flush with the deck surface and cannot be slid out of the way (grate must be pushed up first). The height of the well from bottom to top is 5'7". Is there a limit as to how high these wells can be? I've never seen anybody have to extend the height of one and I have serious doubts the curved plywood they installed as an extension is stable enough to handle the weight of people on a ladder that might have to climb out in an emergency.

    I'm noting all of the above in my report but I'm not sure if the height of the well is an issue.

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    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
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    Default Re: Height of Egress Window Well

    It that an emergency exit or a bar-b-q pit?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
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    1,078

    Default Re: Height of Egress Window Well

    R310.2.1 Ladder and Steps. Window wells with a vertical depth greater than 44 inches 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 R311.7 and R311.8. Ladders or rungs shall be spaced not more than 18 inches on center vertically for the full height of the window well.

    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 thru R310.1.3 and such devices shall be releasable or removable from 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 in height to a yard or court.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    579

    Default Re: Height of Egress Window Well

    Anything over 44 inches should have a ladder or steps installed.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,252

    Default Re: Height of Egress Window Well

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    Anything over 44 inches should have a ladder or steps installed.
    Correct, think of it as the same 44 inch sill height (bottom of window opening) which applies to all EERO, only in the case of the window well there is an option for the height to be higher if there is a permanent, fixed in place, ladder installed. A regular EERO does not have the ladder option, only the maximum allowed height of the bottom of the opening.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Florida
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    552

    Default Re: Height of Egress Window Well

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Correct, think of it as the same 44 inch sill height (bottom of window opening) which applies to all EERO, only in the case of the window well there is an option for the height to be higher if there is a permanent, fixed in place, ladder installed. A regular EERO does not have the ladder option, only the maximum allowed height of the bottom of the opening.
    Is there anything that states how much space, window to ladder? Seems if a ladder that had any kind of steps was placed into that well, it might be a little difficult to make the turn to "up" as you exited the window.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Height of Egress Window Well

    So there is no height restriction in terms of how deep these wells can be, correct? As long as there is a ladder/steps to allow escape, they can be 5, 6, 7, 8 feet deep?

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  8. #8
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    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Height of Egress Window Well

    R310.1 Emergency escape and rescue required.
    - Basements, habitable attics and every sleeping room shall have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening. Where basements contain one or more sleeping rooms, emergency egress and rescue openings shall be required in each sleeping room. Where emergency escape and rescue openings are provided they shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches (1118 mm) measured from the finished floor to the bottom of the clear opening. 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 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 Section R310.2.1 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 R311.7 and R311.8. 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.

    R310.2.2 Drainage.
    - Window wells shall be designed for proper drainage by connecting to the building’s foundation drainage system required by Section R405.1 or by an approved alternative method.
    - - Exception: A drainage system for window wells is not required when the foundation is on well-drained soil or sand-gravel mixture soils according to the United Soil Classification System, Group I Soils, as detailed in Table R405.1.

    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 R311.7.10.2.

    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.

    Keep in mind that the code is a "minimum" standard, not one of or for "common sense". This is the way I explain the codes to everyone and anyone who I discuss codes with (which usually is with contractors): Codes are "minimum" standards, codes are the crappiest one is legally allowed to build, however, some people think "crappiest" indicates "workmanship" and the codes do not address "workmanship", so I will re-phrase that for you - codes are the MOST UNSAFE, i.e., the LEAST SAFE, you are legally allowed to build ... "crappiest" does not sound so bad now, does it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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