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The Home Smithy
The Home Smithy, Home Builder
Category: Home Improvement
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Experience:  #1 Home Improvement Expert 30+ years experience
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Hello, I have situation of "spontaneous breakage" of a tempered,

Resolved Question:


I have situation of "spontaneous breakage" of a tempered, insulated glass door, similar to a previous question posed here about 3 years ago. I am currently in the midst of a landlord/tenant(me) dispute and would truly appreciate feedback regarding the numerous factors that could be at play.

I live in Anchorage, Alaska and in this particular apartment for only five months. My apartment is South-facing with two, wooden framed double paned windows. Measurements of framed panes are approximately 36”x72”. Maximum age of windows up to 30 years. One window is stationary while the other is a sliding door opening to a balcony. Weather this summer was unusually hot and dry and went into a brief period of rain before returning to dry. The glass failure happened on August 24, 2013 as the weather went from the brief rain back to sunny and hot (for Alaska).

I was sitting on my couch on the afternoon of August 24, 2013 when I heard an incredibly loud pop. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the non-sliding window pane shift and begin cracking everywhere. I thought someone had either thrown a rock into the window or shot it – that’s how loud the sound. However, further inspection revealed that ONLY the inner pane had failed and there were absolutely no holes, punctures, or epicenters of the cracking.

When the window pane was replaced the frame was inspected for warping or improper spacing – neither of these seemed to be an issue. My question then, is how the inner pane could have failed with no frame warping/spacing issues and absolutely no contact from me. Being a stationary door, there is no human interaction with this particular section. It should be noted that I have now witnessed condensation buildup inside the panes of the sliding glass door and believe that the constant freeze/thaw and damp/dry cycles may play a part in the glass failure. Otherwise, original installation techniques or impurities in the glass are unknown.

Thank you so much for your time.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 2 years ago.
Hi and welcome.
As an amateur glass blower (very amateur) I know that even the slightest variation in the thickness of the glass can and usually will cause it to crack, or even shatter. This is the reason for the ovens that professional glass blowers use when they are done with the work piece. The oven is set at a temperature that is just below the melting point of glass. This allows the glass to "relax". Any stress points in the glass will smooth themselves out and the glass will remain in the shape that it is blown into.
With tempered glass sheets minor imperfections are cut out at the factory. High tech optics are used to spot them before the glass is shipped to the door maker.
Unfortunately some pieces do get past the sensors and the result is what you experienced.
The odd thing about glass is it can be just fine for years. Then the perfect temperature, seismic event, or just closing it just right can cause it to break.
You are correct about the multiple freeze and thaw cycles. They along with other factors can cause the failure of a glass panel. This is in no way any fault of yours. It just happens.
Let me know if you need anything else.
Best, Smitty
The Home Smithy, Home Builder
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 9619
Experience: #1 Home Improvement Expert 30+ years experience
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