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RE: Shower Panel Implosion

Chris

Nearly four years ago we remodeled our bathroom and purchased a frameless shower.   Tuesday when I was in the kitchen, there was the sound of an explosion.  I ran upstairs to find the panel next to the door had imploded.   I never knew this could happen and have googled and found out that it is possible from a defect in the glass,  they way it was installed, movement of the house.  I also found on the web that some glass shower companies are now offering a lifetime warranty on spontaneous imploding glass.

I called the company (I am in the Denver area) that installed the glass and asked them if there was any such warranty.  Their glass supplier is Oldcastle and they do not have such warranty.

The panel that broke rests solely on the tile and then is glue to the other panel at the corner.  There is a 90 degree corner clip at the top of those two panels.   My concern is purchasing another panel from the same company and having the same thing happen again in the future.    I am wondering what your thoughts are as to why the panel just imploded.  The location of the weak point  (just from the ripple pattern in the glass..see last picture)appeared to be about 6″ inches from the side that would be adjacent to the door, and it about 4″ up from the tub deck.  There is a cutout in the marble edging of the tub deck for the glass.

Should the glass have been mounted in a recessed track in the tile, or is that really just to protect against leaks.  We had no leaks.  I spoke to a different company in Denver and they said they always install the glass in either a visible channel or recessed channel, and she felt it was because the glass was directly on the tile.

Should the panel have been supported by another support to ceiling?  Could the glass have not been in the marble cutout correctly, such that there was a pressure point, and not enough silicone on each side?

If you think this was by house movement what are your recommendations for preventing it again.  At the same time I am concerned about the remaining pieces that did not break, the door and the piece on the tub deck.  If there was a some sort of flaw in the glass these likely were made in the same batch.

Thanks

Janet Bender

P1200110-2           P1200110

Hi Janet,

I’m sorry to hear about your shower panel. It is true that tempered glass can break spontaneously. This is very rare, and is caused by “inclusions” in the glass. An inclusion is a bit of material that is not glass, but is instead a contaminant that is “included.” These inclusions are almost always nickel sulfide, and are microscopic in size. These tiny specks of material can lay dormant in the glass for years, and then cause a fracture out-of-the-blue.

We sometimes install shower glass in a channel and sometimes using glass clamps. This is strictly a matter of personal preference. I did notice that you said in your email that the panel was resting “solely on the tile…” If that is actually the case, it may have caused the glass to break. The glass should always set on a plastic or rubber setting block to isolate it from actually touching the tile. If there is no padding (with shower enclosures this is usually a clear plastic block) then you have an improper installation. The plastic blocks will prevent breakage from house-settling or even small tremors.

I hope you find this helpful,

Chris

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