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when is a window a door? What does the code say about egress and screens?

when is a window a door? What does the code say about egress and screens?

Old 12-17-07, 01:39 PM
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when is a window a door? What does the code say about egress and screens?

I have a sliding glass door in my second floor bedroom. It is my only means of emergency egress. The sill is level with the floor. Can the building department deem this a window? Does a window require a sill above floor level?

I am being told to either put a guard rail across the door(window?) or fix the sliding screen so it cannot be opened. What are the code requirements for egress screens?

The issue is that there is no landing outside the door and a sheer drop off to the ground. This certainly is a hazzard but the fix should be a landing for the window with a guard rail outside the door.

So--what is the difference between a sliding door and a window by definition in the code? Can I be required to permanently fix the screen on an emergency means of egress? Can an operable window be at floor level without any sill?

Old 12-17-07, 02:12 PM
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I would think a small deck would be the best solution. If it is not, then you are at the mercy of the codes department.
Old 12-17-07, 04:44 PM
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Common to see a small deck (3'x3'?) around here on these doors.
Old 12-17-07, 07:50 PM
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As you know, what they are concerned about is that someone could open the door and walk right out. Hope you aren't a sleepwalker. I'm *very* suprised they even offered the option of permanently locking the screen, because a screen is in NO WAY a protection from falling. As you pointed out, what you need is something similar to this:

image credit: www.balconette.co.uk

A french balcony is similar, but is more enclosed, with the ballustrade tightly running around the small opening, there is usually no balcony to step out onto at all... just the fancy railing and ballusters.

I believe screens must always be removable, so I just don't understand their reasoning. Perhaps you've spoken to someone in the building department who has never encountered this before. I'd suggest you find someone else for a 2nd opinion or ask for his superior. No matter what we might say, they have the FINAL say.
Old 12-19-07, 07:06 AM
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2006 International Residential Code
R310.1 requires "at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening" in every sleeping room with a sill height of not more than 44 inches.
R310.1.1 says the opening must be at least 5.7sq ft
R613.2 says that the lowest part of the window opening shall be a minimum of 24 inches above the finished floor of the room. Any glazing below 24 inches must be fixed (non-openable) or have a guard that complies with ASTM F 2006 or F2090
R310.4 allows "Bars, grilles, covers, screens or similar devices" over the opening provided they are "releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool, special knowledge or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening."
Where there is a door:
R311.4.3 requires "a floor or landing on each side of each exterior door" that cannot be more than 1.5 inches lower than the top of the threshold, must be at least as wide as the door and must extend at least 36 inches long.
Old 12-19-07, 02:22 PM
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Good info in the previous post. I would add that glass lower than 24" we have always been required to make tempered. We have also been allowed to avoid the landing requirement by installing an actual rail section directly to the house (one that does not allow a 4" ball to pass thru etc. per code) to block the opening.

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