Vinyl Basement Windows - Installation and Benefits

July 22, 2010

If you are thinking of remodeling your basement in hopes of adding extra living space to your home, it is important that your basement windows meet the requirements set forth by your local building department and the latest International Residential Building Codes (IRC-2000). Basement windows are considered to be egress windows, which means that they must allow someone a safe exit from the house in case of a fire or other emergency.

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Installing Replacement Windows in a Basement

Generally, basement windows need to meet these requirements to be code compliant:

  • have an opening to the outside which is at least 5.7 square feet in size
  • have an opening which has a minimum width of 20 inches and a minimum height of 24 inches
  • bottom of the window opening should be no more than 44 inches off of the finished floor
  • have a properly sized window well on the exterior side of the house

Vinyl windows which meet these requirements are also a smart choice for below grade locations because vinyl window frames can withstand moisture better than most wood frames. If you want to install vinyl replacement windows which are larger than the window openings in your basement walls, then you will probably need to build bigger openings to accomodate the new windows. In order to be weather-tight, your new windows must be installed properly, which includes flashing and caulking around all four sides of the window.

Other Benefits of Installing Code-Compliant Vinyl Basement Windows

  • Larger windows let in more light and fresh air, which can help improve your home's indoor air quality.
  • Replacement windows can increase the number of legal bedrooms in your home, which can increase the appraised value of your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers.
  • Many types of new windows meet the Energy Star requirements for energy-efficiency, which may save you money by lowering the cost of heating and cooling your home. Purchasing certain types of vinyl basement windows may also qualify you for a $1,500 tax credit from the federal government, which is offering the tax credit as an incentive to consumers who make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes.

When installing vinyl basement windows, make sure to check your local building codes so that you know your new windows are code-compliant and safe. Also, read and follow all of the installation instructions and product information which come with the brand of vinyl basement windows you choose.

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