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Old 08-18-2008, 05:11 PM   #1
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Basement window repair/replacement


I have a dilemma, and need some advice. I have a bi-level home with full size basement windows (4x4). They are wood windows, and the sills are in bad condition due to moisture. They are in a concrete foundation. The grade on the home has sunken and needs to come up 3-5 inches where the windows are. When that happens, the sills will be covered by 2 inches of dirt. I know that can't happen.
My questions: I believe I may have two choices here. I can replace the windows with vinyl and add a well to each ($$$$!), or could I put in a smaller window (not so high so it would be above the grade)? If I change the size of the window, (they would still be at least the size of a regular basement window), how do I fill in the hole where the concrete was? Am I right to think it might be cheaper to replace with smaller windows (no wells)?
Help and advice would be much appreciated!!!!

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Old 08-18-2008, 06:07 PM   #2
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The smaller windows might be a little cheaper, but then you're faced with the challenge of filling in the void where the larger window used to sit. That is typically something that is framed, not filled with concrete, but you could do either.

I'd opt for the window well either way! You could easily create a window well from stackable landscaping bricks and it wouldn't be all that expensive. Furthermore, pre-formed rolled metal window wells are very inexpensive and are super-easy to put in.

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Old 08-18-2008, 06:18 PM   #3
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Basement window repair/replacement


Hi,
Thanks for the reply. Don't window wells have to drain into the weeping tile? Do I need to tie it right in, or can I just fill with gravel? How do I use blocks? Another problem is that I have limited space because I have a small garden shed close to the window. If I put in a well, it would have to be fairly narrow or there won't be room for a path to the backyard between the shed and well.
That's why I was hoping against the well idea.
If I went with the smaller window, and some of the old window gap would be below grade, what materials would I fill it with? You can't have wood below grade, can you?
So many questions, thanks for your patience!
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:50 PM   #4
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Basement window repair/replacement


If your current windows are Egress sized and the smaller windows are not then you will have decreased the value of your home and the legal usefulness of the basement. Check with your local building department and be sure you understand the ramifications of smaller windows and the legality. If you end up going for smaller windows you can fill the area with concrete block. You can use full 8" high block or 1/2 high block (4") both of which are readily available. Or you can cut block to whatever height you want.

But you'll miss the light. Are you saying that the original grade was over the window sills and there is no way to adjust the grade for proper drainage without the grade at the window being higher than the current window sill? Can you perhaps regrade that area to a new drain that can be gravity drained through underground pipe elsewhere?

Window wells don't have to be tied in to the foundation drain tile if you can protect them from large amounts of water. They should extend above grade level so that only directly falling rain enters them - and covers are available to take care of that.
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:12 PM   #5
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The windows are already oversized windows (48x48) because the home is a bi-level. Two of the windows are one bedroom, and even if we changed out the windows to 48 x 36, they'd still be bigger than the typical basement window. We're just looking for the least expensive alternative to handle the grading problem. Just one of it seems like a hundred hidden problems in a newly purchased home!
If we decided to leave the windows and put in wells, we happen to have a ton of left over Allen block. Is there a way to use that, and how?
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by champers View Post
The windows are already oversized windows (48x48) because the home is a bi-level. Two of the windows are one bedroom, and even if we changed out the windows to 48 x 36, they'd still be bigger than the typical basement window. We're just looking for the least expensive alternative to handle the grading problem. Just one of it seems like a hundred hidden problems in a newly purchased home!
If we decided to leave the windows and put in wells, we happen to have a ton of left over Allen block. Is there a way to use that, and how?
You must go by the actual requirements for an egress window - especially in a bedroom. Please be sure to check with your building department to confirm that the windows you want to use will meet egress requirements. They will have minimum width, height and total opening area requirements. They will also have a maximum sill height requirement. This is generally 44" from the floor so if you move the sill height up 12" for that 48x36 window you will likely have a sill height above 44" and will no longer have a legal bedroom.

Don't assume a 48 by 36 is big enough. You must measure the actual opening size when the window is open. For example on a casement you can only measure the clear opening - not the part blocked by the open window panel which usually narrows the opening around 3-4". I'm betting that your 48" wide window actually is a double and will likely fail the minimum requirements.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:48 AM   #7
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Basement window repair/replacement


Quote:
Originally Posted by jogr View Post
You must go by the actual requirements for an egress window - especially in a bedroom. Please be sure to check with your building department to confirm that the windows you want to use will meet egress requirements. They will have minimum width, height and total opening area requirements. They will also have a maximum sill height requirement. This is generally 44" from the floor so if you move the sill height up 12" for that 48x36 window you will likely have a sill height above 44" and will no longer have a legal bedroom.

Don't assume a 48 by 36 is big enough. You must measure the actual opening size when the window is open. For example on a casement you can only measure the clear opening - not the part blocked by the open window panel which usually narrows the opening around 3-4". I'm betting that your 48" wide window actually is a double and will likely fail the minimum requirements.
Right on you beat me to the post. here in one town the egress is 36" of finished floor, check what your town requires. JOGR= excellent reply.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:14 AM   #8
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So, my other option, the wells. As I said before, I have some Allan blocks I could use. The top of the well only needs to be about 6-8 inches above the existing grade. How would I build this? Any ideas? Not a lot of snow/rain gets in there, and if I have to, I'll cover them in the winter.

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