Egress windows – what are they and when to install them?

May 22, 2019

Egress windows – what are they and when to install them?

While renovating a house or building a new one, it’s important to take every precaution in order to guarantee the safety of its residents. In the event of an emergency, you’ll be glad you implemented these solutions beforehand. Life-threatening situations like fire can block exit routes, effectively trapping you inside the house. That’s why there are regulations concerning what type of windows should be installed in specific parts of the house.

When is it necessary to install egress windows?

An egress window is a type of window which can act as an exit in case of emergency. We are required by law to install them in every bedroom in the house as well as in habitable basements. There are only two exceptions to this: if your bedroom has a door leading directly outside of the building, or if you have a fire sprinkler system installed. The Alberta Building Code lists detailed requirements a window must meet in order to be classified as an emergency exit.

Main requirements

You must remember that the main purpose of the egress window is to guarantee safety of the inhabitants. That’s why it has to be big enough to allow an adult to pass through and shouldn’t be installed higher than 1.5m above the floor. It’s also essential that it’s easily openable from the inside of the room with no tools required.


If you are creating a habitable space in the basement, there are specifications that need to be fulfilled. Depending on how low beneath the ground the window is, it will be necessary to ensure the right size of the window well and it may have to be accompanied by a ladder. Installation of a big window in the basement has the added benefit of letting a significant amount of natural light into this usually rather dark space.

Replacing old windows

If you’re replacing your old windows, it’s important to make sure that they meet all the current requirements. The law could have changed in the meantime and it may be necessary to enlarge the window openings. This may require a building permit. Remember to check with your municipality to make sure which permits are necessary in your case and make sure to acquire them before starting your renovation.


Installation of egress windows is a demanding task, which will most likely require access to specialized equipment. So unless you have experience with renovations and some help, it is advisable to consult a professional. It will ensure that all your windows are installed properly and in accordance with local regulations.



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