Exploding Shower Doors – Are They Really Dangerous?

Exploding Shower Doors - Are They Really Dangerous?

You’ve heard the horror stories of glass shower doors spontaneously exploding and disrupting the peaceful calm of midnight slumber. There are several documented incidents of shower doors shattering and seemingly “exploding” out of the blue with an ear-piercing boom. 

The fact is: Shower doors’ spontaneous combustion without cause is a MYTH. 

There is always an underlying issue that professionals can resolve before the worst case scenario happens. To remove the mystery from this phenomenon, let’s take a deeper look into how shower (tempered) glass is made. Then, we’ll explore what homeowners can do to avoid a shattering incident. 

How Shower Glass is Made

Glass shower doors and enclosures are made of tempered glass. Tempered glass, also known as “toughened” glass, is a type of safety glass. It’s made using chemical and thermal heating processes that are designed to make it stronger than normal glass. The processes it undergoes creates a smooth, compressed outer surface while the interior is bound by tension. By design, this construction allows the glass to fracture into tiny pieces when broken. Reason being, it is much less dangerous than typical glass that breaks into large shards. It is, in fact, safer and four times stronger than regular glass.

Why Shower Doors Explode

Rest assured, tempered glass shower doors do not randomly self-destruct. Mark Meshulam, a Chicago-area building consultant and subject matter expert, attests that “even though these accidents appear to be spontaneous, there is always an underlying cause for combustion.” More often than not, scratches on its surface or nicks along its edges cause shatters. Nicked edges may take place during the manufacturing process, along the delivery route or by inexperienced installation technicians. On rare occasions, a manufacturing defect called nickel sulfide inclusion can trigger spontaneous combustion. Most often, direct impact to the face of the glass is the primary reason the glass breaks. 

What Manufacturers and Installers Do To Lessen the Danger

Research indicates incidents involving glass shower door explosions have dramatically decreased in recent years. Consumer complaints were highest before 2017 for good reason. After receiving several complaints, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) established mandatory standards for tempered glass production. They require manufacturers to perform extensive pressurized tests to each piece of glass before it is released for installation in homes and businesses. The CPSC also requires tests on safety glazing materials to lessen the likelihood of skin-piercing injuries in the event of an accident. 

Professional installers must be licensed, bonded and insured in their designated service areas. This ensures that the work they perform is compliant with the latest industry standards and safety procedures. Qualified glass shower door installers are also extensively trained in affixing metal hardware to the glass. Further training teaches them to inspect the glass for damage and repair or replace damaged products before walking away from a job-site.

What Consumers Can Do To Lessen the Danger

Shower Door Care

Homeowners and hospitality staff play a critical role in preventing shower door combustions. By performing periodic inspections of the surface and edges, people can discover and report damages to shower glass professionals. This allows trained experts to take corrective actions before disaster happens.

To help consumers with long term care, bath industry leader Kohler released the following tips:

  • Ensure moving panels are securely attached to the door system. If concerned, consult your instructions or contact the manufacturer.
  • Periodically check the shower door hardware to ensure fasteners remain secure. Tighten them if needed.
  • Ensure moving glass panels are not directly contacting the wall or metal during operation. That means checking the panel alignment and making sure the bumpers and seals are in good condition.
  • Inspect glass regularly for any chips or cracks, and pay special attention to glass edges, notches, and around holes in the glass for hardware. If there is any evidence of a crack, replace the glass panel immediately.
  • Do not use the shower door towel bars as a safety grab bar or as a lift assist when getting in and out of the bath, or lowering and lifting off a toilet.

Practicing Bathroom Safety

Exploding glass doors do not account for many bathroom-related injuries. So, consumers play a big role in keeping accidents to a minimum. At Same Day Frameless Shower Doors, we want you to stick to the following tips for shower and tub safety:

  1. Install handrails or grab bars for help entering and exiting the tub or shower.
  2. When possible, avoid using suction-cup hand rails which are prone to slipping.
  3. Use rubber mats on shower floors.
  4. Consider installing or redesigning standalone shower entries with low to no thresholds.
  5. Place rugs or towels along the floor for traction with exiting the tub or shower.
  6. Never grasp a shower door for balance.
  7. Because burns are a common injury, always check water temperature before getting into the tub or shower.
  8. Never slam glass shower doors. Tempered glass is tough, but designed for delicate handling.
  9. Share bathroom safety practices with your children. 
  10. Talk to professionals whenever you are unsure or concerned about bathroom features.

The Bottomline About Tempered Glass Hazards

The truth is, tempered glass can shatter and it does so by design. However, according to a memorandum by the CPSC, there is a 10 times greater chance of injury due to horizontal glass surfaces than shower doors. Those injuries are the results of collisions with glass desks, dining, coffee, outdoor and end tables. When handled safely, glass shower doors last for decades.

There’s a quote that says, “Danger is real, but fear is a choice.” Our homes and the places to which we travel are filled with their own unique sets of dangers. It is our job to be mindful about how to avoid and overcome them. If issues with your glass shower doors or enclosures concern you, report it to a professional immediately. 

Same Day Frameless Shower Doors of Houston provides all content for informational purposes only.

Always consult a licensed, insured and reputable glass installation company that can accurately assess your specific needs. Choosing a licensed and bonded company ensures compliance with local building codes. Never attempt to cut or install glass without the help of professionals. For more information, contact us.