18th September 2022

Spontaneous Glass Breakage

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Spontaneous glass breakage

Units Shattering for No Reason

Spontaneous glass breakage is a glazing term used when a tempered glass unit shatters without any impact, which is a rare phenomenon.

Whilst there is no way to identify glass that can be affected by spontaneous glass breakage, it will only occur in toughened glass.

Toughened glass, also known as safety or tempered glass, is used where safety is a concern, and one of the areas is patio doors to reduce the risk of injury.

Tempered, or toughened glass, is manufactured to be highly resistant to thermal breakage and can withstand a minimum surface compression of more than 10,000psi and which gives it its strength compared to regular glass, although this process does not make toughened glass indestructible.

When tempered glass suddenly breaks without warning, it can happen quietly or be scary and explosive.

Whilst a shattered unit can be worrying to look at as it does it in style it is supposed to and shatters into thousands of tiny pebbles that often stay in one piece to eliminate danger and prevent injuries.

This is why toughened glass is also known as safety glass, as the tiny pebbles are far safer than the jagged shards of regular glass breakage.

However, breakage can happen at any time – or never! Tempered glass can break on a harmless impact or shatter for no reason, even after a few years since the installation.

Homeowners are shocked to discover that it is unlikely that a shattered unit is not covered under the manufacturer’s guarantee and will either need to make a claim on household insurance or pay for a new replacement unit.

Here at Thames Valley windows, the number of spontaneous glass breakage reported in a year is minute compared to the number of tempered glass units we install in Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire properties.

Our latest blog article will look at the causes and reasons for spontaneous glass breakage.

Spontaneous Glass Breakage – Units Shattering for No Reason

There are a few reasons that a high-quality glass unit will shatter without impact and the main ones are:

Nickel sulphide inclusions

Tempered glass is prone to a natural occurrence called nickel sulphide inclusion. The glass is heated to a near-soft liquid during the manufacturing tempering process. However, any minute traces of nickel sulphide become frozen during the rapid cooling process.

Although you won’t be able to detect these microscopic metal particles, they may still be present and harmless in the glass for weeks or years after installation until they expand and create a weak spot. The glass suddenly shatters spontaneously in a distinctive figure of eight or butterfly effect.

It is a rare abnormality within glass manufacturing; therefore, no warranty is available against breakages from this phenomenon.

Temperature and Humidity – Thermal shock (also known as thermal stress)

Occasionally, when there’s a notable difference in temperature between the edge and centre, it will cause the centre of the glass unit to heat up, causing internal stresses, which can cause expansion.

This can suddenly cause the glass unit to crack or break under added pressure.

Manufacturing or Transportation Damage

Minor damage, such as nicked or chipped edges of the glass in manufacturing or transportation, although this isn’t always noticeable on installation, can develop into shattered units within weeks or months of being fitted.

Frame Related Breakage

If the space between the frame and glass is inadequate, it can cause spontaneous breakage. When temperatures change, the glass will expand and contract, and if there isn’t enough room within the frame, the stress will cause the glass to shatter.

To discover windows and door prices now, call 0800 181 698 and request a free no-obligation quote! Or contact us online and arrange for an appointment at our Bracknell showroom or your home!


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