Can Glass Shower Doors Break?

Recently, glass shower doors have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Both ABC News and CBS Chicago recently covered stories about these doors spontaneously breaking.

Shower Glass

But those breakages are usually a long time coming.

Most often, it’s hotel shower doors that will break, and that’s no coincidence — with high usage comes more risk.

Most shower doors are made with tempered glass, thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which pushed through a new law in 1977 after a series of terrible accidents.

This new law required shower doors/enclosures, bathtub doors/enclosures, sliding doors, storm doors of a certain size, and any door with glass larger than 9 square feet to be constructed with tempered glass.

This material must comply with the definition from the CPSC: “a piece of specially heat treated or chemically treated glass that cannot be cut, drilled, ground or polished after treatment without fracture. When fractured at any point, if highly tempered, the entire piece breaks into small particles.” This is much safer than those old broken shards that could double as daggers!

Breaking News!

Tempered glass can break for many reasons, starting with edge damage (which happens with normal wear and tear). Edges are the most sensitive areas, especially with frameless shower doors.

Glass shouldn’t touch anything besides a specially designed bumper. However, some showers have glass bumping up against tile or baseboards. It can be relatively easy to push a door out of alignment (especially by kids and the elderly), even if it was installed correctly.

Shower doors that slide can be stressed by twisting, which can cause breakage. Too much leverage can damage areas with drilled holes (or any weak areas). If you have a chip near one of these holes, a crack can eventually start.

Shower doors require gentle handling. Go for thick ones with minimal slope that are constructed with high-quality hardware.

Shower Rules

No matter what, metal and glass should never meet. Also keep an eye out for poor hole fabrication, and know that a clean hole means stronger glass (as proven by the American Society of Testing and Materials).

Hole misalignment can happen with poor installation. Nickel sulfide inclusions, which occur naturally in glass and are a cause of impurity, can weaken the finished product, as can too much tempering.

To prevent breakage, treat doors gently, keep hardware tight and make sure shower bumpers are in place. Buying from United States dealers is preferable.

If shower or bath glass does break while you’re naked, wet and vulnerable, don’t panic. Place towels over the broken pieces if you can, or sweep it away with your loofah or washcloth.

For all your repairs, contact Murray Glass, the local shower glass experts who will keep your bathing time blissful (as it should be).