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311Hemi

Egress window well

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I am putting in a 5'x3' egress window and will need to dig down a good 40" or so. I noticed that Home Depot retaining walls blocks are only meant to be stacked like 6 blocks high......are most 12"(w)x4"(t) block only supposed to be stacked this high? I would assume I need to use the big 17" wide retaining wall block?

Otherwise I am thinking about 6x6 treated timbers.

Anyone have any suggestions. Money is of consideration on this project.

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Don't know a heck of a lot but I have egress windows and they have galvinized steel wall in them. Would think that would be a better opion than timbers that will rot over time.

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I would lean towards the galvanized well myself. They are $199 at Menards. Home Depot is $299. I found this handout available from the city of Brooklyn Park helpful in the correct instalation. (this link is allowed being that it isn't selling anything right?)

http://citysearch.brooklynpark.org/HSOforum/bldgbuslic/escape_windows.pdf

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Thanks for the info guys. Looks like the size I need will run about $275.

Main thing I hate is the look of them, the wood looks so much better from the inside of the house. I agree on the rotting of the wood...that is my main concern. Not sure on the blocks rotting?

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Are there any city ordinances regarding building materials?

I have seen where they make steps out of the retaining wall blocks, with grass and flowers planted in the flat "step" areas. If you have the room, it looks a lot better than what we have.

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I have also seen some fiberglass ones that even have steps built in, can't recall where, but it looks better. For the blocks, I think if you would use bigger blocks they can be stacked higher/more courses. Good luck.

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Check your local and state building codes, you will need a ladder or steps to facilitate a fire escape. You'd hate to be standing in the window well with out a way to climb out when the building is on fire.

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Before going galvanized.. take a look at some ohe the heavy Poly type walls. Some of these have a ladder to use to get out.. maybe a good idea to think about if your going to use the room for a bedroom. you could always google them online to see what all is available too..

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My parents have had a timber one in for 15 years and there's no sign of rot yet. I'm sure there is a correct way to do it so they won't rot too quickly. It sure looks a lot better than those galvanized ones. Neighbors have a "terraced" one with two levels. Looks pretty nice with some plants in there, and it makes it easier for the wildlife to escape when they inevitably fall in (I awoke to a skunk in my well one night!).

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My parents have had a timber one in for 15 years and there's no sign of rot yet. I'm sure there is a correct way to do it so they won't rot too quickly. It sure looks a lot better than those galvanized ones. Neighbors have a "terraced" one with two levels. Looks pretty nice with some plants in there, and it makes it easier for the wildlife to escape when they inevitably fall in (I awoke to a skunk in my well one night!).

This is good to know. Heck, if I could get 15 years out of the wall I would not be too worried about it. Plus it looks soooo much better.

I will be looking into the local codes as far as a step or ladder if my hole ends up deep enough that that is needed. Might also consider building in a step that we set some plants on.

Thanks!

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311 Hemi, one more detail is check the state code for your egress opening. It has to be a less than the maximum allowed from the top of the floor to the window opening and the window of course has to be rated as egress by width and height of the opening. You will need steps or a ladder. Other code requirements may apply.

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Concrete retaining walls will last ..... as long as the house foundation. treated wood (ground contact rated wood has a higher level of preservative than non-contact ) will also last a very long time. Metal should give your 30yrs + for a life span.

I'd make sure of a couple things:

1) Have the surrounding area have positive drainage away from the well.

2) If #1 is not possible FOR SURE run a piece of 4" min. PVC tile or pipe out to "daylight". Positive slopeing for storm run off. I have heard form someone who knows (former work partner that is a ins. adjuster) that a window well that fills w/ water is considered a flood and most ins. will NOT cover the damage.

3)Make sure there is a way for critters to get out. They will get in.

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There's a lot of comments about the 'look' of the galvanized systems. What would prevent you from putting one of those in and then lining it with something that you feel looks better? I don't know what that would be - maybe a poster of Raquel Welch? Probably dating myself a bit with that one.

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I have a well that was built in 1990 out of treated 4X4's and 2X6's. Interestingly, the only part that is starting to deteriorate is the landscaping timber that we used to trim the top of the walls above the ground!

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Thanks for the link to the pdf. Note the height from floor to sill.

One thing that hasn't been said is drainage.

You'd hate to open the curtain and find you have a new aquarium.

Start with the grade. Is there enough slope away from the house.

With the well in place will there be enough slope away from the well. Any chance water coming off the roof will dump into the well. So as you can see you want to eliminate the possibility of water getting to the well.

The bottom of the hole should have a slope away from the house. Then you need a backup to that. After you dig the hole for the well( 1' deeper accounting for pea rock) , use a post hole digger and go down to the drain tile. Insert a length of pvc, back fill, and put on your drain cap, land scape fabric and then pea rock.

The molded wells are nice, some give more room and stepped although they will cost more. Galvanized would be the cheapest and easiest. If you want to use block or timbers you'll want landscape cloth behind it to keep dirt from washing in.

What ever you decide there size so a polycarbonate cover will fit correctly.

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search for a company called Bilco or Wellcraft and check out their egress systems. I think is what you might be looking for.

You can get these in any of your local independant lumber yards.

Jar Jar

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I work for a landscape company in the summer.... We have built many window wells out of the same type of landscape blocks that you can get at Home Depot. First the larger blocks are your best bet would be what we call I-2 block they can be anywhere from 7"-6" high and 16" to 18" long by a foot deep. Different companies have different specs. With this block you can go quite a bit higher. One thing our company likes to do is tier the window well. If you have drain tile and connection will be needed to the second tier. I would also recommend the straight face block and square the corner by over lapping , I think this looks the best.

Good luck

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