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Woman's shower glass shatters suddenly: How this can happen

Woman says glass exploded when no one was in the room, and she is not the only one who has had a shower door spontaneously shatter.
Shower door shatters DWYM
Posted at 7:06 AM, Jun 19, 2024

Imagine finally getting the bathroom of your dreams installed, and the shower you always wanted, then a short time later, that glass shatters without warning.

It's rare, but it does happen, as one woman just learned.

Julie Davey still can't believe what just happened in her new master bathroom, in her Harrison, Ohio, home.

"We heard a loud boom, and crash, and glass breaking," she said, "and we went upstairs and saw glass everywhere."

She says with no one in the room, an entire shower wall shattered, leaving shards all over the floor, and chips in the tile.

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Shattered shower glass

What can cause this?

For answers about this phenomenon, we turned to window and glass consultant Mark Meshulam, who has studied several recent cases.

"There's no combustion, there's no heat, there's no flames, but it does feel like an explosion," he said.

Meshalum says today's shower doors are typically made with tempered glass, which makes breakage appear more dramatic.

"When it breaks," he said, " it breaks into smaller particles so that it's safer," and won't cut you if you are taking a shower at the time.

As to why it happens, Meshulam says there could be an impurity, such as little metal particles in the glass.

"A little tiny rock, which is only 1/10 of a millimeter in diameter, is known to spontaneously and without warning, break tempered glass," he said.

In some cases, he says it could have to do with the installation.

"If the holes in the glass are not drilled cleanly. If they're jagged, that could leave a weakness in the edge of the hole," he said.

As to how often this occurs, Meshulam says he's seen about 35 cases nationally, which makes it fairly rare.

He says the best thing an installer can do is follow each and every step in the instruction manual, which is why it is important to hire a top-rated installation company, and not just someone who does shower glass on the side.

Warranty will only cover glass, not labor

Some good news: Davey's installer told her the $500 glass panel will be covered by warranty, but the labor is not.

"I imagine it will be over $3,000 to get everything fixed," she said.

We contacted the glass manufacturer, which is looking into whether anything more can be done.

"I absolutely think it should be covered," Davey said.

The Daveys are thankful no one was hurt but are upset that no one wants to step up and cover a full repair.

As always don't waste your money.

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