No need to stress over egress windows Ottawa

Ottawa homeowners – do you know what egress means? Egress – direct means of access, and most importantly, a “life-saving” feature, particularly in case of Ottawa basement apartment bedroom windows.  If ever there was an emergency situation, like a house fire, having the properly-sized egress window in the bedroom could be the difference between life and death. Ottawa homeowners must be vigilant when it comes to following the strict codes for egress windows.

The National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) has very clear requirements related specifically to bedroom egress windows, and the three distinct purposes they serve in your home: 1) light (at least five per cent of the floor area served), 2) ventilation (at least 0.28m2 or 3 ft2 or an adequate year-round mechanical ventilation), and 3) emergency escape: (Article 9.7.1.3 & 9.7.1.4) an emergency escape requires that each bedroom must have a door that leads directly to the exterior of the building or have a properly-sized egress window that can be opened from the inside without the use of keys, tools, hardware or special knowledge* (unless this bedroom has a sprinkler system installed).

The size of an egress window in the City of Ottawa is not based on the physical size of the window frame, but on what the unobstructed clear opening is (once the window has been fully opened).

For a bedroom window to be compliant it must provide an unobstructed opening with a minimum area of 0.35m² (3.77ft²) and at the same time no horizontal or vertical dimension / opening can be less than 380mm (15”).

It is further recommended that the bottom of any egress window opening or sill not be higher than 1.5m (5ft) above the floor. Now this can be somewhat challenging for any bedroom in a basement, so they recommend installing some means of built-in furniture below the window to assist in the event of an emergency.

However, if an Ottawa egress bedroom window opens into a window well, then the window well must allow at least 550mm (21.7”) in front of the window. This is to ensure that the window well does not obstruct or block the ability to use the window as a means of emergency escape. Where a casement-type window is used, the window well must also project out enough to allow for the full 90o swing of the window opening.

Unfortunately, an out-swing awning window is usually not permitted for an egress window in Ottawa when it opens into a window well, as it tends to fully block all means of escape. In the case of single-hung windows that just won’t stay open, for example if you slide the lower window up, the window immediately slides backdown, this is an example of how an egress window is restricted due to a defective operating system, hence a safety hazard.

Remember, the assessment of the bedroom windows in the home is part of a typical home inspection. If you are contemplating replacing an existing bedroom window, or adding a bedroom to your basement, you need to ensure each bedroom window meets the minimum Ottawa egress window requirements.

Manotick Windows and Doors is here to help Ottawa homeowners with all of their questions and concerns regarding egress windows. Call us today. You’ll be glad you did.