Transform your basement with an egress window
Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 by Josh Eigsti
So, you are thinking about installing an egress window.
Customers typically call us to help with an egress window for a few key reasons. They want to transform the basement and improve their quality of life. Egress windows are a great way to add natural light and change the feel of the basement. I spoke with my friend Mike about the value an egress adds to a home. Mike is a realtor in Omaha, NE with Berkshire Hathaway he told me that many of his clients find that when selling a home adding an egress window helps create a space in the home that is warm and inviting. An egress window will attract home buyers that are looking for a finished basement but do not want to spend time in a dark dungeon. Mike tells me that this perceived value can drive up the offer price on a home.
Other customers are looking to increase property value by adding another conforming bedroom. When adding an additional bedroom Mike tells me that this attracts many families who are looking for more room for their kids a spare bedroom or even an office space. Especially now that many homeowners are working from home this added flexibility can be something that many people would gladly pay for. The investment will surely pay for itself.
Finally, customers call us to add an egress window to restore peace of mind. Providing a safe means of exit for your family while they are staying in your basement is a concern for many homeowners. All of Thrasher’s egress windows are compliant with code and will be installed with the highest commitment to quality.
You might be thinking that all sounds great but what aren’t you telling me about egress? Aren’t we talking about cutting a big hole in the side of my foundation? What problems can this create? How do we keep water out of my home if I install an egress window? These are all good questions let me tackle a few of those for you here.
In the 45 years that Thrasher has been waterproofing basements, we have seen many egress windows that were installed incorrectly. Some of the most common things we see in failed egress window wells are due to the soil not being properly compacted around the well. Proper installation is critical for preventing well failure and water seeping into your basement. Some contractors when digging a hole to install an egress well only dig a hole big enough to fit the well. The challenge with this approach is there is not enough room for the contractor to properly tamp the dirt around the well. When this happens the loose back-fill soil around the well has voids and gaps that allows water to flow down and fill up in the well. Many homeowners often are afraid that water will fill up in the well from the top. This is a common misconception the reality is that water fills up in the well from the bottom. The loose fill soil creates a path of least resistance and the water builds up and the pressure from that water can cause it to seep into the bottom of the well. Turning your window into a fishbowl where the water can leak into your home through the seams in the window and wall.
When poorly tamped fill soil gets wet it also swells and expands and this puts a lot of pressure on the well and can cause a well to collapse, bend or pull away from the foundation. When this happens, we create more pathways for water to get into your egress window.
The good news is that these problems are preventable. Thrasher over the years has invested in the equipment, people, and training to ensure that we install your egress window and address each of these potential problems. Thrasher will only be sending Thrasher employees to your home. Thrasher invests a lot of training into all our employees so that we can deliver a world-class experience. This is true for our production teams who install these windows. Many of our installers have been with Thrasher for many years and due to that experience and training can complete large and complex jobs with great efficiency. This means that we can complete an entire egress window installation in one day. We know that having construction people in your home can be a huge inconvenience that is why we work very hard to get the install done right and done quickly.
On the day of installation, our crew will walk the job with you before they start. They do this to make sure that all your concerns and expectations are taken into consideration. They will also explain what you can expect for the day. The crew will lay out tarps on your lawn to hold all the dirt and protect your lawn. Then we will dig out a hole for your window. We dig out several feet away from your foundation to give us enough room to work. When we put that dirt back in, we need enough room to be able to get a mechanical jumping jack tamper next to your well. When the well is put into place, we then fill a layer of twelve inches of dirt and then compress that layer of dirt with the tamper. This ensures that we are reducing the number of voids and cracks for water to seep through, slowing the flow of water next to the egress. Once that layer is compressed, we add another layer of dirt and we repeat this process until the well is surrounded by tightly compacted dirt. At Thrasher, we use an attractive and very strong well made of fiberglass composite that is strong enough to withstand the mechanical tamper and not buckle during the installation. This is one thing that sets us apart from many other contractors. When we cut the hole into your foundation wall, we use a special cut break saw that gives us the ability to cut through the entire wall with one cut. This ensures we have a clean straight cut. We can then securely install the vinyl window and seal the joints and seams. Then we put a modern trim around the window to deflect water away from the home. We seal the well to the foundation mechanically with concrete screws and we seal it with our Nexus Pro sealant. This keeps water from seeping into the well from the sides. Inside the well, we dig below the window and install a well basket. This basket catches the water that comes into the bottom of the well and can take it down into an exterior drain tile if the home has one. We also run an emergency discharge line up out of the well. This line gives you the ability to install a Pump into the well basket if you see the egress well filling up and pump that water away from your home. We understand the risks and surprises that nature can throw at us and we try to cover all our bases. I have also found that many of our customers want to be sure that their home is protected from water intrusion, so we offer a waterproofing option with each well. This solution comes with a twenty-five-year transferable guarantee that you will not get water in your home through the window well. With all of these measures, we have successfully installed thousands of egress windows in homes.