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The process of installing window wells for a basement

How to install a window well to protect your basement and allow access to outdoors in emergencies.

Window wells are sturdy frames around your windows that help to keep rain, snow and debris out of the basement. And, in case of a fire or other emergency, your family has an easy way to escape to safety.

After enlarging the basement windows, we needed to install new window wells for our basement. 

install new window wells

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INSTALLING WINDOW WELLS FOR A BASEMENT


MATERIALS:

TOOLS:

  • rotary hammer
  • hammer
  • drill
  • large shovel
  • safety glasses
  • face mask (for dust)
  • ear protection

You can print the material list and instructions below.

I searched high and low for the exact size of the window well we needed but I could not find them in our area and shipping cost were outrageous. So we ended up with wells that are larger than normal but they still work and look good!

DIG THE HOLE FOR THE WELL

To begin, you need to dig out the dirt around where your new window well will be, about 1-foot wider on all sides where the window well will be placed. 

To dig out the area, you can rent a small excavator but to save money, you can use your trusty shovel and dig the hole by hand. 

My husband hand dug each hole (we are installing two window wells) and it took about a week for both; this was after work and one Saturday.

Here are our before and after of our digging:

old basement window
hole for expanding basement window

PLACE THE WELL

In our case, we had to add some dirt to the hole to make the window well slightly higher than the ground level (we wanted ours about 4″ higher). 

Then, we placed the well into the hole, centered it to the window, and made sure the well itself was level.

place window well

SECURE THE WELL TO THE FOUNDATION

Next was drilling a hole to attach the well to the foundation using sleeve anchors. 

We made one hole at a time and used our rotary hammer to drill the hole (this tool is amazing when it comes to concrete!). Be sure to follow the instructions for the anchors you are using.

drill hole to attach window well

Then, hammer the anchor into the hole and, using a regular drill, tightened the nut of the bolt. 

We repeated these steps for the remaining holes. 

SIDE NOTE: We used 4-5 anchors on each side and our window wells were 54″wide x48″ deep x 36″ projection.

sleeve anchors to attach window well
window well attached

ADD GRAVEL INSIDE THE WELL

Once the window well was attached to the foundation, we filled the inside of the well with 3″ of gravel. This is for water drainage. 

SIDE NOTE: We wanted the gravel to be only a few inches below the window so we added some more dirt before the gravel.

PACK DIRT AROUND THE WELL

Next, we filled in the dirt around the well. To do this, we placed some dirt (using a 5-gallon bucket) and we compacted it by stepping on it. Then, we added more and compacted it again, until the dirt was back to where it needed to be.

compacting dirt around window well

And that’s the process we used to install our new window well for a basement.

new window well installed