Cellars often provide additional storage space for wine, canned food, and produce. They can also provide temporary shelter in adverse weather conditions if basic amenities such as water and electricity are installed. But do they have windows? We researched the topic, and this is what we discovered.
Most cellars have windows that provide ventilation by allowing in the fresh air and ejecting stale air. Moreover, finished basements that contain habitable areas such as bedrooms or family rooms must include egress windows. Conversely, wine cellars often do not have windows since sunlight can rearrange wine's chemical compounds causing it to age prematurely. A UV coating is added to protect the wine against sunlight if windows are included in a wine cellar.
Keep reading as we elaborate on whether you need egress windows in your cellar and whether windows provide ventilation. We will also discuss what the standard size basement window is.
Do I need egress windows in my cellar?
It is advisable to have egress windows in your finished cellar. These windows provide an emergency exit for you and your loved ones, as well as an entryway for the emergency teams. While egress windows are primarily installed for safety, they can also make your cellar more habitable by allowing in natural light and providing ventilation which improves the indoor air quality. We will discuss more on ventilation later.
There are regulations that you need to comply with when installing egress windows in your cellar. Although most regions implement the codes provided by International Code Council, some regions adopt unique policies. It is therefore advisable to check with your local building codes beforehand, thus ensuring compliance.
If your local codes adopt the International Residential Code for one and two-story buildings, it is advisable to implement these regulations:
- For a finished cellar with at least one bedroom, each bedroom should have an emergency egress.
- The egress window should have a minimum opening width of 20 inches and a minimum opening height of 24 inches.
- The window should also have a crawl space of 5.7 square feet.
- You should also include a window-well floor space of 9 square feet with a horizontal projection of at least 36 inches.
- The egress window should have a permanently attached ladder if the window well is deeper than 44 inches.
- The window should not be higher than 44 inches above the floor.
- The window should be easy to open from the inside, without special tools or keys.
No Egress for Wine Cellars
Wine cellars do not need egress windows because they are not habitable spaces. Instead, they are customized to provide a conducive environment for wine to age properly. If you install windows in your wine cellar, you need to add a UV coating to keep the sun rays from causing your wine to age prematurely. We will expound on this later.
If your basement has a stone foundation and you would like to finish it, you can find out more by reading this article "Can You Finish A Basement With A Stone Foundation? [And How To]."
Do windows provide ventilation?
Windows serve both functional and aesthetic roles. All operating windows are used for natural ventilation while at the same time installing well-designed windows that can beautify your home.
Windows provide ventilation by allowing a complete air circulation whereby fresh air comes in, and stale air exits the building, improving air quality. Ventilation can also be used to regulate temperature, humidity, and air motion.
Although all opening windows provide ventilation, some designs offer better ventilation than others. These include:
These windows are mounted on a hinge, either on the right-hand or left-hand side. They crank outward at an angle and provide top-to-bottom ventilation when fully open.
Casement windows create a cross-breeze effect as they channel cool outdoor air into your living space and eject the warm, contaminated air. Additionally, these windows have a sash that seals tightly into the frame; hence air cannot leak through.
These windows are ideal because they keep the home cool without running the AC in spring and fall and keep the energy bills low while preventing chilly drafts in the winter.
These windows are hung on hinges along the top of the frame and open from the bottom. They are usually fixed in small, rectangular window openings. Sometimes they are installed above large or fixed windows in the home.
Although they are not as effective as casement windows in catching cross-breezes, they are pretty ideal as they can be left open even when rain is expected. You do not have to worry about open windows since they don't allow rain to pass through their opening.
These are three windows arranged as a single unit and projected from the home's exterior wall at an angle. The central and often larger window is typically fixed. Two smaller operable windows typically flank it. The smaller windows can either be casement or hung windows.
These windows improve ventilation since they catch breezes flowing in multiple directions.
These windows have operable upper and lower sashes. Since warm air rises, these windows promote better air circulation by allowing cool air in through the lower sash and simultaneously eject warm and humid air through the upper sash.
These windows are ideal where you have limited opening spaces since they don't protrude when open. However, you can only open half the window since the operable window slides over the fixed window.
Advantages of a proper ventilation system
- Air regulation: a proper ventilation system will maintain fresh air while keeping your energy bills in check.
- Regulates humidity levels in your building: cool air holds less moisture than hot and humid air. Thus, as the cool outdoor air flows in, it helps regulate humidity levels, consequently lowering the chances of molds and mildew building up.
- Regulates the temperature without using an AC: as the cool outdoor air flows in, it lowers the temperature in your room. However, if the outdoor air temperature is higher than that indoors, this air would cause condensation on your walls as the warm and humid air cools. It is advisable to use natural ventilation when the outdoor temperature is lower than that indoors.
- Reduces allergens by eliminating contaminated air and pathogenic microorganisms.
What is a standard size basement window?
The standard size of windows depends on the house's era and the type of windows installed. The standard basement window sizes are 32 inches wide, with a height ranging from 15 to 24 inches.
Standard basement windows are typically shorter than regular house window sizes since they fit in a smaller space. If you want to make your basement windows look bigger, you can read this article on "How To Make Basement Window Look Bigger."
Do wine cellars have windows?
Unlike other rooms in your house, wine cellars do not fancy having windows that allow more natural light since wine is susceptible to sunlight. Moreover, regulating your wine cellar's temperature and humidity levels may be more challenging if windows are installed.
Most wine cellars are installed underground, away from direct sunlight and in a controlled environment. Typically, the wine cellars do not have windows. If installed, they are specially adapted to meet the expected standards that favor proper wine aging. Thus, a UV coating is added to block out harmful sun rays that may trigger the premature aging of wine.
You can open the windows in wine cellars at night to allow cool air in, eliminating the heat generated as the wine ages. The cool air lowers the temperature in your wine cellar and regulates humidity levels, maintaining them at an average level of 55°F to 57°F and 60% relative humidity. At these ideal conditions, the wine matures slowly, the corks are kept from drying out, and molds do not build up in your cellar.
Windows are an essential part of your cellar. They allow as much natural light in as possible, provide ventilation and beautify your home. If you have a finished cellar, it is advisable to have egress windows installed in each sleeping area as this will increase the chances of you and your loved ones surviving in case of a fire outbreak.
If you have a wine cellar, it is advisable to add a UV coating to the windows to capitalize on the benefits accrued by having windows in your cellar while at the same time protecting your wine collection from harmful UV rays.