Basement window replacement
Basement windows can serve a cosmetic purpose like to spruce up the space or bring more light into the room, or they can serve the functional purpose of acting as an escape in case of emergency.
Additionally, replacing old basement windows can improve insulation for your home and bring energy bills down as well as block out noises from the outside.
To help determine if it is time to start taking a closer look at your windows, here is a complete guide to answer all of your basement window replacement questions.
Cost of basement window replacement
There are a lot of costs to consider when replacing basement windows through a basement window contractor such as the cost of the window itself, other materials needed to do the job, and labor costs for the team of professionals doing the work.
The average cost of window replacement is between $1,000 – $8,000.
If professionals are installing an egress window and a window well where there currently is not one, the price can reach up to $8,000. The costs for a DIY approach will come from materials, renting the appropriate tools, and the proper disposal of removed materials.
If you are simply replacing basement windows, the cost can remain below $1,000 barring any complexities or extras including structural issues, frame alterations, or the selection of very expensive windows. You also need to decide between a single pane window or upgrading to a double pane window. You can learn about the costs of a double pane window here.
Hiring a contractor who knows how to replace a basement window is recommended over a DIY effort in most cases because professionals can work efficiently and effectively, which can save you from future problems and added costs.
How to Tell if it is Time to Replace Basement Windows
It is difficult to open and close them
You feel a draft coming from your closed window
There is condensation forming between the glass panes
Your energy bills are higher than normal
You notice the wood around the window is rotting
What is an Egress Window?
An egress window is intended to provide emergency escape from a home and they are specifically required in each room that serves as a bedroom. The window needs to be large enough to safely fit a body through it.
When it comes to egress windows in a basement, they also need to have a dug out space around the window to provide easy escape for someone fleeing danger or access for safety professionals to enter through it.
Egress Codes for Basement Windows
It is important to adhere to egress codes when it comes to installing or replacing basement windows.
Here are some of the requirements for egress windows:
Must have a 5.7 square foot opening, allowing enough room for a fully suited up firefighter to fit through it.
Needs to be at least 24 inches tall and 20 inches wide.
The maximum distance that the bottom of the window can be from the floor is 44 inches.
How to Install Basement Windows
A basement window can brighten up a basement space.
Below is a simplified step-by-step guide for how to install basement windows in a concrete block wall for those DIYers out there or those interested in the process that their basement window contractor will be going through.
If your basement walls are made of poured concrete, we urge you to consider calling in basement window professionals for the job.
First, here are some things to consider before starting this project when it comes to window placement:
How adding a basement window will affect the look of the outside of your home.
Look out for anything you may run into in the process such as electrical wiring, gas lines, or plumbing lines that could be in the way.
Where the best natural light comes in from.
If you are cutting out a window on a load bearing wall (a wall perpendicular to floor joists), it can affect the size of the header beam needed for the window. Consult with a professional if this is the case for you.
Determine where the best place is to position your window and with tape, mark the outline of the window shape that you will be cutting out of the wall.
You may need to build a temporary support wall to prevent issues when cutting a hole into a load bearing wall.
Cover the surrounding area and belongings with a tarp, because this process will create a lot of dust.
Drill a pilot hole in the center bottom of your cutting area with a hammer drill. Then drill a hole at each corner.
Use a concrete saw to begin cutting through the concrete block from the inside. Cut about 3.5 inches wider and 1.75 inches higher than your opening requires to allow room for framing and adjustments.
Make sure the saw is plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet and wear proper safety gear!
Move outside and begin cutting the same area from that side.
Remove and dispose of the extra concrete that was cut out. Be careful not to remove any blocks outside of the window area.
Use a brick chisel to smooth out the area.
Fill the centers of the concrete blocks below the sill with newspaper and wet concrete.
Cover the wet concrete with plastic to protect the wood window sill from warping and install the window sill
Install any headers and frame the window. Make sure to anchor the wood frame to the surrounding concrete.
Fill the gaps around the frame with caulk and/or polyurethane.
Install the window itself and caulk around it. Make sure it is secure.
Create a slope on the ledge outside of the window so that water drains away from the window.
How to replace a basement window
For basement window replacement, it is easier to perform the majority of the job from the outside.
Here is how to install replacement basement windows:
Remove the old window, sash, and frame. Use a saw to clean up area so there are no remaining materials in the space.
Position the new window into place. Be careful not to force it in because you may end up breaking the window.
Screw the frame into the wall so that it is secure.
Caulk around the window frame to seal it. Use polyurethane under the window sill to seal and secure it.
Types of Basement Windows
There are several options to choose from when it comes to replacement basement windows.
Casement basement windows
Casement windows are hinged at the side and they crank open inward or outward. The are a great energy efficient option.
A hopper window is the same style as a casement window except the hinge is located at the bottom of the window.
Awning windows are also the same as casement windows, but they hinge from the top.
Double-hung basement windows
Double-hung windows have two sliding pieces, otherwise known as sashes, that slide over one another. They are not as energy efficient as casement windows, but they are easy to open and clean.
Sliding basement windows
This type of window is less energy efficient since the sliding does not allow for a compression seal. They are very easy to open and close, which is handy if you need a quick exit or to air out the space. Slider basement windows are also easy to clean.
Glass block basement windows
The appeal of glass block windows is that they let light in, but you cannot clearly see through them, which adds privacy. They are sealed into the wall and cannot be opened, making them another energy efficient option.
other basement needs
There are several ways to make the most out of your basement windows. Outside of replacing basement windows themselves.
here are some add-ons to consider:
Basement Window Wells
A basement window well is an area dug out around a window outside the basement that is lined. The purpose of it is to allow for more light to enter the basement through this window, since basements do not get a lot of natural light.
They also allow for ventilation in the basement since you can open a window and let fresh air in, which is important for basements which are notoriously damp rooms.
Since mold thrives in damp and dingy environments, ventilation can also help with reducing mold growth in a basement.
Another reason why basement window wells are important is because they can offer an escape route for anyone trapped in the basement during an emergency. It allows firefighters with full equipment on to enter through that point and provide assistance.
This is particularly important if your basement is finished and has a bedroom in it.
Basement Window Well Covers
The reason why basement window covers are so useful is because window wells can fill up with debris such as leaves and branches and cause a drainage issue or leaks in your basement.
Other issues with coverless window wells include:
A metal basement window well cover will block out all light, but there are clear plastic options that will work while still letting natural light into the basement.
Basement window well pro / con list
Basement Window Curtains
Adding curtains or blinds to your basement windows can really cozy up a space. Since basement windows tend to be on the smaller side, installing a curtain rod just below the ceiling and hanging curtains on either side of the window can give the appearance of a larger window and a higher ceiling.
Basement window curtains are an easy way to improve a finished basement. Basement window blinds or shutters are also a popular option in terms of basement window treatments.
Since basement windows are typically located high up on a wall in basements, basement blinds or shutters are usually taller than the actual window giving the effect that the windows are larger than they actually are.
The space under the window itself that is still covered by the blind can be pushed back so it aligns with the window and filled by drywall to add to the effect.
Because basements are typically very moisture-heavy, which can cause problems with mold and musty smells, installing a basement fan can be an important addition.
It could also come in handy if your basement does not have vents from your HVAC system pushing cool air in during warmer months. If this is the case, you could also install a specific basement air conditioner.
Basement window replacement is a process that can lower your energy bill and increase the value of your home. Be sure to consider all of your options before taking on a project like this yourself or hiring professionals.