A window well can be a positive addition to the exterior of your home. It can provide natural lighting in your basement and is relatively easy to maintain. However, this feature comes with the responsibility of keeping it safe. Small animals or children can be injured if the well is not properly covered at all times.
Below are 5 questions to consider before installing a new window well.
1. Is a Window Well Required?
Some building codes require a window well to be present and in good condition within a basement. This is to have an exit in the case of an emergency. Fire codes in the United States emphasize bedrooms having two available exits from the property in case one is blocked during a fire.
A window well can help occupants escape in an emergency and help emergency personnel enter the house. Specific requirements for the setup of the steps and ladder will vary between cities. Local building inspectors can verify if your window well installation meets the legal standards.
2. Should the Window Well be Covered?
Dirt and debris will easily collect in the well every time the wind blows. This can block the drainage systems and cause a flood when it rains. A cover will reduce the amount of moist dirt and rain that can cause damage to the home’s foundation.
Having a covering may not be required, but it is an essential safety measure when it is beside a walkway or area where children frequently play. A cover will prevent small animals or children from falling in and getting injured.
3. Is Installing a Proper Drainage System Necessary?
Whenever it rains, you are at risk of the window well flooding without a proper drainage system. This can cause water to seep into the foundation, crack the window, or flood the basement.
There are two types of drainage systems that can be installed. An internal drainage system directs water to a sump pump that will send the water away from the home. The external drainage system directly sends the water to the main property drain.
A properly installed drainage system keeps the well and your home safe.
4. How Does This Affect My Property Value?
Window wells can be a valuable addition to your home. It serves as an increased safety measure and extra precaution against home damage. They make for an inexpensive home improvement feature desired by home buyers.
The well will also let extra natural lighting filter in through the window. This cuts down on energy use and reduces the cost of energy bills. The increased natural lighting in your basement will create a more cozy ambiance.
5. How Easy is it to Maintain?
A clear covering can make it easier to keep visibility in the well while keeping it protected. But even with a cover, the well requires regular maintenance to clear out some debris or small animals that slip past into the hole. The drainage system will need to be kept clear at all times to prevent damage.
Cleaning the well every few months is recommended. Vacuuming or clearing out the buildup of mold and debris between the switch from spring to winter will prevent a costly repair.
Installing a window well has the benefits of providing an additional emergency exit from your basement and adding value to your property. But keeping it safe and properly drained can be a hassle.
These five questions can help you decide whether installing a window well is the right option for you. If the building code in your city requires it, you are better prepared to maintain your new window well.