What about those basement windows?

The other day we had what I think was a great question from Linda in New York; she wants to know if she has too many basement windows and should she close-off some of those windows.  What do basement windows actually do?

Take a look at today’s photograph that shows the basement windows in a brand-new foundation in Washington County Vermont.  This foundation was part of a project we did several years ago.

So, what do these strategically placed windows do:

  • The most important function for basement windows is for ventilation.  During the summer it is a good idea to open these windows and allow for thorough ventilation
  • Basement windows allow for some light
  • The windows in today’s picture DO NOT allow for an emergency escape, obviously, the windows are too small to crawl through to escape.
  • Placement of windows is a matter of personal taste but normally they are not in the front of the house for aesthetic reasons.  The three windows in today’s picture all face away from the front yard yet allow for cross ventilation in the summer.
  • Basement game rooms, family rooms, and Man Caves:
    • If you intend to finish off a portion of the basement into a living space, they you must provide for “Egress.”  An Egress window must meet specific building codes about size.
    • The theory goes this way, if someone is on a sofa in the basement watching TV they could easily fall asleep and in the event of a fire must be provided with an Escape Route or an Egress window or door. 
    • Code wise, basement game rooms are “the same as” a bedroom.

So, back to Linda’s question about closing off some of the windows, she specifically mentioned security concerns.  If you have concerns that wildlife or urban critters could enter the basement then we suggest you cover the window area with a Wire Mesh or even bars that an animal could not climb through.  Don’t forget that that wire mesh or bars will eliminate that window being considered as an Egress Window.

So, Linda it is a great question that is difficult to answer.  Cementing the spaces shut seems a little over-kill, consider replacing the glass, installing wire mesh, or boarding them up if you have too many windows.

What is your thought?  Offer Linda a suggestion.

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