The sound of glass shattering could be one of the most emotional experiences that a person may go through. At first, there’s Shock at what could have caused it, then Dismay follows that there will now be a long complicated clean-up to look forward to, not to mention having to shell out hard-earned money for a replacement glass panel. There’s Terror that someone, especially a child could have gotten hurt by the falling glass, or worse terror that it WAS a child that caused the glass to shatter.  If we know how the glass broke, then there’s usually Anger at the person or thing that caused it or in some cases where there is no apparent reason for the breakage, utter Confusion at what caused the glass to just shatter spontaneously. Whew what a ride!

Knowing the causes of glass breakage, the safety and preventive measures to be taken, can help us prevent most cases from happening.  However, a ball hurtled at our windows by playful kids frolicking in casual soccer is just not something we can control so the best we can do for that is pray that it never happens to us!

Causes of Glass Breakage

There are three causes that result in glass shattering –

1.      Impact Breakage

This one is quite clear. Glass panels shatter due to an impact or force that connects with the glass. This is easily the cause that we are most familiar with.

The example about the kids with the flying soccer ball comes under this category. This is something that we could possibly foresee but never truly prevent. The best prevention for this is to have grills installed outside of the glass.  For those who like the look that stand-alone glass gives to the exterior of your homes, unhampered by metal grills, there’s some solution shared in the last section of this blog to keep your troubles at a minimum.

There are other kinds of impact breakage that are actually preventable. These are caused by loose hardware and constant jiggling of this hardware against the glass panel. A very common example of this is towel rods attached to glass shower doors. To prevent this we should regularly tighten all hardware on glass panels and teach children never to hang off the rods.

Example of glass crack due to stress2.      Stress Cracks

Stress from temperature and atmospheric changes can also cause glass to shatter.

Many a time’s people use very hot water to shower. This not only increases the temperature in a relatively small space but also changes the humidity levels because of all the steam released. Prolonged exposure to such fluctuations can cause glass panels to crack and eventually shatter.

3.      Spontaneous Breakage

It can be very scary when without any warning your glass panels just suddenly spontaneously shatter. Like something right out of a horror movie!

In reality there are completely logical explanations and a few different reasons for the breakage.

One of them is edge damage to the glass pane. Caused either by sliding glass being shut too hard against the bumper, or a damaged bumper not giving the sliding glass panel the proper shock absorbency and protection against banging against the window or door frame.  Another cause for edge damage is also inexperienced glass workers who use grinders on the edges of glass after it’s been tempered. All these can create chipped edges in the glass panels, causing the glass to one day spontaneously shatter.

Glass spontaneously shatters for another reason too and that is something called ‘inclusions’ i.e. residual chemicals left during the glass making process.

What to do when you have a Shattered Glass panel

Preventable or unpreventable, when it’s after the fact, clean-up has to be done and has to be done safely and thoroughly. So here’s a quick list to let you know how :-

  1. Securing area with broken glassSecure the area. Keep children and pets away.
  2. Put on your protective gear. These include heavy rubber gloves, wearing sleeves to protect your arms, goggles for your eyes and socks and closed shoes.
  3. Keep two thick plastic bags, double bagged into one another, and a cardboard box ready for disposing the glass.
  4. Check to determine whether the bulk of the glass has fallen.
  5. Remove pieces which are still loose. First the upper pieces then the lower ones.
  6. Dispose of these large pieces immediately into the bags.
  7. With a broom sweep inwards towards the area where the glass shattered from a radius of at least fifteen feet, to catch all the medium sized pieces.
  8. Now, vacuum the same area to catch all smaller pieces.
  9. Discard into the double bag
  10. Catch strays with sticky tape and then wipe the entire area with wet paper towels and discard into the double bag.
  11. Place double bag into the cardboard box then label the box “Glass for Disposal”. Click here to see the some of the steps pictorially.

In the event that the glass has shattered but because of lamination, has not dropped everywhere, tape up the entire panel or criss-cross it with duct tape, then bag it and put it in a cardboard box and label as above before disposal.

Prevention measures to avoid Shattering

As promised above, here are a couple of suggestions to heighten safety when getting glass panels for our living and working areas. This level of security increases the pleasure we feel from the beauty of having glass in our spaces as they award us with peace of mind.

Laminated Glass (where two or more layers of glass are bonded together with a plastic interlayer) is the most effective way to ensure a level of safety from injuries due to shattered glass. Besides added safety/security measure it even keeps out a level of outside noise! There are quite a few benefits of getting this kind of treated glass.

There’s also Tempered Glass which when it breaks, breaks into blunt edged pieces instead of random sharp edged ones. This is also a good option.

Other preventive measures are the maintenance checks that we ourselves have to regularly perform. For example doing the hardware tightening mentioned above and making sure the bumpers are still effective on sliding panels. Teaching children about safety measures is also necessary.

So, if you particularly love the aesthetics that only glass can provide to your home then go ahead being rest assured that the precautions do highly outweigh the risks. With the right knowledge and know how, you CAN enjoy your glass panels for many years!