CharlesVolz

Exterior Egress Door Code

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I copied this over from the Symbol forum. It started out addressing a couple of nice double door symbols posted by brinkbart here https://chieftalk.chiefarchitect.com/index.php?/topic/892-arched-double-doors/ that are expandable for entry doors 48" and 60" wide. "There are two sizes - 24" and 30" for creating 48" and 60" double entry doors respectively."

 

I thought it should be posted here.

 

 

IRC 2015: 

 
SECTION R311
MEANS OF EGRESS
 
R311.1  Means of egress. Dwellings shall be provided with a
means of egress in accordance with this section. The means
of egress shall provide a continuous and unobstructed path of
vertical and horizontal egress travel from all portions of the
dwelling to the required egress door without requiring travel
through a garage. The required egress door shall open directly
into a public way or to a yard or court that opens to a public way.
 
R311.2  Egress door. Not less than one egress door shall be
provided for each dwelling unit. The egress door shall be
side-hinged, and shall provide a clear width of not less than
32 inches (813 mm) where measured between the face of the
door and the stop, with the door open 90 degrees (1.57 rad).

 

The clear height of the door opening shall be not less than 78
inches (1981 mm) in height measured from the top of the
threshold to the bottom of the stop. Other doors shall not be
required to comply with these minimum dimensions. Egress
doors shall be readily openable from inside the dwelling without
the use of a key or special knowledge or effort.

Quote

I have used a 5' double door to meet the code requirement for egress. Now I am not sure this meets the 2015 IRC. Did the code change or have I been missing something . . . forever?

 

My post is regarding the required exterior egress door . . . usually the entry door.

 

So, does everybody occasionally use double doors for entry that are 5' wide or less? 

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I do not claim to be a bibliophile of the IRC but I have always used 36" for residential structures and 72" for commercial structures for entry doors, All exterior doors should be at least 36" whether Commercial or Residential. Using this I have never had a plan rejected by anyone, anywhere. (That includes South Africa, Japan, Korea, England, Scotland, The USA, Thailand, Caribbean Islands, Canada, Australia and Argentina.

 

DJP

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Howdy David,

 

The point is if a client wants a double door at the entry and does not have room for a 6' opening, is a 5' double door code compliant . . . or being accepted as code compliant.

 

I know a 36" door solves the problem otherwise.

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Typically such residential double doors have an astragal and locking pins top and bottom that have to be disengaged to open the door.  Not exactly what you want to be doing when you are trying to escape a fire in a panic.  So, I don't think a 60" door meets the intent of the code.

 

Double commercial exit doors would typically not have an astragal and have an entirely different latching mechanism and hinging (as well as panic bars in some instances) so they can be easily pushed open to their full width in an emergency exiting situation.

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The door has to be 32" clear space between the face of the door to the door jam when opened at 90deg. The only way I am aware to get this is a 36" door. If you do a 5ft double door you are ok, unless one panel is permanently fixed and can't open and leaves the open part with less than 32" clear distance.

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Yeah, Bryce and Jared have good opposing views. I wish the code would spell this out. 

 

Bryce, I don't think the egress door size for residential is tied to (or should be tied to) emergency egress. What are the chances of using that one exit in an emergency and why would it need to be 32" clear. (BTW for those newby's playing along, 32" clear requires a 36" door by the time you swing a 1 3/4" door slab 90 degrees, have a ~1/2" stop on the opposite side and allow for the offset of the hinge of ~1/2".)

 

Commercial door exits are tied to capacity where you are trying to have a larger number of people exit in an emergency. Offices, etc. don't require the egress windows, just more exits doors for more square footage, in general.

 

Jared's post is how I have always thought about it. No fixed door panel or fixed astragal. But as I get older and my mind turns to mud, I am rethinking it all over again.

 

Thanks for all the feedback. Interesting subject (to me).

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Yeah, Bryce and Jared have good opposing views. I wish the code would spell this out. 

 

 What are the chances of using that one exit in an emergency and why would it need to be 32" clear.

 

It is the only door required to be 36" (32" clear).  "Chances" don't really matter.  They just want to make sure that you have at least one way to get out of the house that is this minimum width.  Any other exterior doors can be any width you want.  Commercial or residential, I think the same basic thought process is at work.  In commercial, most of the time, an occupancy of 50 or less also only requires one 36" exit door and it doesn't necessarily have to swing out either.

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If there is another exterior door to a deck or patio it can be the 36" egress door. Then the entry door can be smaller than 36" such as a double 30".

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The following is a quote from some IRC commentaries I recently read...

"The code now specifies that the

required net clear opening

dimensions & the method for

measuring when the door is

opened to the 90 degree position.

The minimum net opening

dimensions are now consistent

with the door requirements for

means of egress & accessibility

for persons with disabilities in the

IBC."

If the intent of the code is indeed to fall more in line with accessibility requirements, which I believe it probably is just based off the following 2 lines...

"The means of egress shall provide a continuous and unobstructed path of vertical and horizontal egress travel from all portions of the dwelling..."

and

"Egress doors shall be readily openable from inside the dwelling without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort"

...than I can very easily see how a double door with an astrigal would not meet that requirement. Does the device require special knowledge? Maybe and maybe not, but is it a bit of an obstruction and does it require a least a little special knowledge and definitely some effort (especially if you're elderly or in a wheelchair)? I think the answer is YES.

I can see that its a bit of a gray area but if I'm an inspector, I imagine I might not let a 5ft. double door fly.

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Dianne, that is a good reminder. I almost always have more than one exterior 36" door.

 

Bryce, I was just pondering the thinking behind the code. It just seems to me that if a 36" door was for emergency exit purposes that all exterior doors would be required to be 36".

 

Michael, exactly. My engineering side does not like the gray area.

 

Good conversation! Thank you all.

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Bryce, I was just pondering the thinking behind the code. It just seems to me that if a 36" door was for emergency exit purposes that all exterior doors would be required to be 36".

 

 

What do you suppose, then, the door requirement is for?  It's called an "egress" door for a reason.  Generally that means egress in an emergency.  They also require "egress" windows in bedrooms for the same reason.  You can also have more than one window in a bedroom and only one of them has to be egress compliant.  So, the code is pretty consistent that way. All of them don't need to be egress compliant.

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Here in Michigan, the Michigan Residential Code requires at least one egress door that is at least 36" wide and 80" tall.  I did notice the actual 2015 IRC does allow the egress door to be as narrow as 32".  It seems as if a lot of the AHJ's are overriding the IRC's 32" width requirement and requiring the egress door to be at least 36" wide.

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I don't think the 32 inch and 36 inch requirements are actually in conflict. It pretty much takes a 36" door to get a 32 inch clear opening with the door at 90° once you account for the thickness of the door, any hinge offset, the doorstop on the latch side, and maybe any stop mounted weatherstripping.

One thing that is kinda interesting to me though is that they only require one door to meet the requirement. This is a lot different then a bedroom egress window situation because a person can relatively quickly find the largest opening window in a room but knowing which one of the six exterior doors in the house will allow your wheelchair to fit through in case of an emergency AND being able to quickly reach that door from any given location in the house is a very different situation.

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The lady has the answer to your question, the code is not telling you that the "Front" or "Entry" door has to be the "Required Egress Door" it merely states that you have to have at least one and that you need the path of travel to be clear and unobstructed, thus, many think about the "Front" door.

 

Now to be technical about it: The intent is a safe way out of danger, if you think about escaping out to the rear or side yard just to find yourself trapped again between fences and gates, then, you are not meeting the requirement. 

 

Double smaller front doors? Maybe if you must open them both to exit without any additional effort or tools. Minimum 36" door opening to get the 32" clear width.

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