Installation Tips For Egress Window Wells

Published: 11th March 2011
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Start by setting your new window well and secure it to the wall per the manufacturer's instructions. This will normally require drilling into the basement wall to install concrete anchors. Be sure to use a code compliant egress window well. If the well will be deeper than 44" from vertical grade, a code compliant ladder will need to be installed. Ladders or rungs shall have an inside width of at least 12 inches, shall project at least 3 inches from the wall and shall be spaced not more the 18 inches apart. Many of the preformed window wells are made with integral code compliant steps. After the window well is in place, dig down to the footing drain that runs around the perimeter of the house. More than likely this is a simple french drain.

Upon reaching the drain, carefully cut the perimeter drain pipe to install a TEE. This part can be a little tricky to accomplish. You must cut enough of the drain line out to allow the TEE to fit. If you cut too much the TEE will not connect to pipe correctly. Once the Tee is in place, use some landscape fabric to wrap the new connection. This will help in keeping soil and debris from finding it's way into the drains. Typically the drain lines are 4" light weight sewer and drain pipe. This has replaced the old clay tile drains that were used years ago.

Insert a riser pipe into the newly installed drain TEE. This pipe will connect to your drain that you will be installing. Fill the entire hole with stone. Peastone or stone less then 1" in diameter will work the best.

Connect the riser pipe to your new drain. Installing a good sized catch basin will catch some debris and help keep your drains functioning properly for years to come. The cover is removable and sediment will collect in the bottom. Be sure to clean the catch basin often.

In fill the rest of the window well with stone to desired height. Completing a window well with drains is the best way to ensure a trouble free egress window installation.

If you window well doesn't drain properly, excess water can run through the window back into the basement. Consider constructing your window well with a drain that connects to the foundation drain, which runs around the perimeter of the house. Make sure that the soil in the well is several inches below the basement window. The soil should be sloped toward the drain. Cut out a small section of the drain. Install a "tee," and a riser for the drain connection. Wrap the new connections with landscape fabric. This will keep out dirt and debris.

Another approach is to construct a "stone under" drainage system. The trench must slope "downhill" or away from the well. Use 1-inch or smaller crushed stone or pea gravel as a bed for the 4-inch plastic drainage pipe used to collect the water. Install solid 4-inch pipe to carry the water away from the egress window well.

EZ-HANG. "Correctly Installing An Egress Window Well With Drains." February 2011

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