Exploding curved shower screen

Having read an article posted in March 2007 about exploding curved shower screens I am very interested know if this is quite common as it has just happened to my 12yr old daughter whilst she was in the bathroom.
I can see no reason for it happening in our case it seemed quite spontaneous however it was quite warm, surely this is an extremely dangerous event and must be stopped.
There must be a coating which can be applied to the glass which stops this kind of projectile explosion from happening.
The screen was fitted quite recently in April 2008 and was bought from Bathroom City, Tysley, Birmingham, it is called Iris Art No 7100167.
Please can you advise me if there is an alternative make which will not do this (as a replacement) and any advice regarding what to do now. NB I have some good photographs showing how far the glass travelled 3-4 meters and the damaged caused.

Many thanks for you help in advance.

Regards Karen

Guest User
Thu, 20/08/2009 - 05:33

Tempered glass is a safety product. If it breaks it will break into small pieces that will not cause life threatening injuries, unlike raw glass that can break into shards that are capable of slicing through flesh and arteries.
Tempered glass can sometime spontaneously explode at some time after manufacture due to an impurity in the glass, although with modern clean float lines this is now a rare occurrence.
The impurity, called a nickel sulphide particle can occasionally be present in the raw glass and during heating in the tempering process they will change phase to a smaller size. They are trapped in this state as the glass is quenched to produce the temper in the glass. However, they WILL, over a period of time, revert back to their original size. This time period can be days, months, or even years. As the particle expands back to its original size it can cause a microscopic flaw which, if it is in the internal tension layer of the glass, will cause the glass to fail. The only way to guard against this type of failure is for the processed glass to undergo a Heat Soak test where the glass is reheated to 300 degrees C and left there for a few hours. This accelerates the phase change in any particles if they are present and the glass will fail. If the glass survives the Heat Soak test then either there are no particles present or, if they are present, then they are too small to cause a problem.
All tempered glass using in structural glazing will have been Heat Soaked to ensure no failures in the future.
Tempered glass can only fail when there is damage to the tension layer inside the glass and the most likely other cause is a chipped edge or corner to the glass.

So the solution to your problem is to specify that the glass must undergo a Heat Soak test to EN 14179-1 and be stamped with the fact that it has undergone the test.

An alternative is to use laminated glass, but in a wet environment like a bathroom unless all the edges of the glass are completely sealed (ugly), you run the risk of de-lamination in the future.

Jonathan Barr

Guest User
Tue, 27/09/2011 - 21:08

This has happened to us this evening, without any reason or due cause. Thank you for the helpful comment in reply to the original post.
I shall be contacting the manufacturer tomorrow.

It is worth noting that although the glass did break up as described (small chunks) some of it has been so forcefully exploded that it has embedded in the base shower unit - which I think inferrs that serious injury could have occurred had anyone been there at the time.

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