Windows are a LIFE SAFETY CONCERN should occupant(s) need to exit the home quickly during a fire, and they CANNOT. There are requirements for a window to meet egress and various ways for windows to be “nonconforming.” Specifically, I am talking about bedroom windows, and the details on what will cause a bedroom window to be considered defective gets quite involved.
Some basic requirements are this: Bedrooms windows above grade should have a 5.7 SF net clear opening. Bedroom windows at ground floor should have a 5.0 SF net clear opening. The window(s) should operate easily.
At times, I am asked: “What’s wrong with the window size? To properly answer this question, one would really need more information. One would also need to know how tall and wide the window opening is, how high the window is off the floor, and how close the window is to the exterior grade. For proper egress, windows must open at least 24″ high, 20″ wide, and have a net openable area mentioned above. This means that if a window only meets the minimum height and width requirements, the net openable area will only be 3.33 square feet (24×20 = 480. 480 / 144 = 3.33). If a window opens 24″ high, it would need to be 34.2″ wide to meet the minimum opening requirement. Besides the opening requirement, the window also needs to be within 44″ of the floor. Pictured, is an great diagram that illustrates two different windows that both meet the minimum requirements.
I often find both in new construction and older homes that the bedroom windows DO NOT meet Emergency, Egress and Rescue opening requirements. One should view this matter seriously, because it is indeed a life safety concern and my report will go as far as saying something to the effect that the bedroom(s) should NOT be used as sleeping rooms until the defective condition is corrected. If you live in an older home, there’s a good chance that none of your windows meet today’s egress requirements.