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Question DetailsAsked on 3/16/2015

Who can replace basement window wells?

I have 4 basement windows that have a corrugated steel window well on the outside that holds back the eart and allows an exit once you get out of the window and up the little ladder.They are rusting and I need new ones.

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You can find several prior responses to that question along with suggestions on sealing to the foundation etc right below this answer - and also others if you put "window well" into the Ask box.

I would first find out if your local building code compliance department has a handout (usually available online at their website) on emergency egress and window wells - because a code update notice I received said the newer version of the building and fire codes in effect in most areas now prohibits ladders for emergency egress windows, either leading to them or to exit from them, and even if ladders are allowed usually haveto have 3 foot landing at the bottom and top - which generally would not fit the space in a normal window well. Under the new code, you have to provide stairs up to ground level if the height of the window well is over the allowable height (which is typically the same height as the maximum allowed height of the egress window off the floor or platform leading to it). You don't want to replace them with something that does not meet code and get into a replacement issue when you sell the house. Of course, it your window well is just a bit too deep to meet the climb-out height requirement, nothing says you can't make it the legal height with a paver block or such landing at the top which is itself below ground level, then use pavers or concrete steps to step-up from the top of the window well to the surrounding ground level - bearing in mind the need for those steps to possibly act as a rim to prevent surface water intrusion, and also provides a larger amount of surface area exposed to rain and snow that you have to be able to handle in the well area.

Also - you might check how deep the rusting is with some sandpapering a couple of spots - in many cases, they are not rusting through, just rusting because of a poor galvanizing job or where they got nicked in installation. If you can sandpaper through the rust and are not getting holes through the well, you can just make a pass lightly coarse sandpapering the whole area just to knock the loose rust off (intact rust can stay), wash it off, let dry, and then apply a rusty metal primer like Rustoleum fish oil-based rusty metal primer, let that THOROUGHLY dry till hard (may be as much as a week or so), then cover with 2 coats Rustoleum Cold Galvanizing Compound or one coat of that plus a color coat of your choice - come in spray cans for convenience. Other brandnames have the same type systems - just be sure to use rusty metal primer, not clean metal primer.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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