Why Spontaneous Glass Breakage Occurs

Why Spontaneous Glass Breakage Occurs
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Reviewed by Bryan Baeumler

Over the past few years there have been several incidents of spontaneous glass breakage in the news, particularly pieces falling from high rise buildings. Spontaneous glass breakage occurs when tempered panes of glass shatter, crack or break for no apparent reason. While the amount of these panes that have fallen from high rise buildings after breaking has been minimal, it has prompted building industry professionals and other experts to consider what can be done to ensure the protection of pedestrians. But why does this spontaneous breakage occur, and what can be done to prevent it?

1. Installation-related Damage

While glass panes are being installed and moved around on site, their edges are highly prone to being nicked or chipped. Also, if not correctly positioned, hardware and fasteners such as screws or nails that are used to attach the panes to the window frames can damage them as well. While this seemingly minor damage may not present an immediate problem, the natural expansion and contraction of the panes will cause stress fractures to develop around the blemish. Over time, these fractures enlarge, which causes the panes to break or shatter ‘spontaneously.’

2. Thermal Stress

This occurs most often in larger panes of sealed insulating glass that have had heavy heat-absorbing or reflective coating applied to them. These coatings are most commonly applied to the inside face of the outer part of the pane, which causes the outer to heat up more than the inside as the coating does its job of reflecting the sun’s heat and rays away from the building. As a result, the pane does not expand and contract evenly, which can result in it shattering – especially if the window’s spacer bars have not been installed 100% correctly.

3. Frame-related Breakage

Window panes expand and contract continually, which is why they need to be installed with setting blocks, edge blocks and/or sealing gaskets. If no space has been left around the perimeter of the pane, it will bind against the frame when it gets hot. This will cause internal stress fractures to develop, which, over time, will result in the pane cracking, breaking or even shattering.


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4. Preventing Spontaneous Glass Breakage

More than 75% of builders and property owners make the mistake of shopping around for the cheapest window panes and frames they can find. This can result in inferior or sub-standard glass being installed; it will also render the panes far more susceptible to spontaneous breakage. Instead, it is recommended that the choice of manufacturer be based on their reputation and the quality of their products. When installing windows, property owners must also only hire the services of qualified professional installers, as this will ensure that they are fitted correctly and according to current safety standards and guidelines.

Canadian Choice Windows is a company that prides itself on hiring the most qualified and experienced installation professionals in the industry. Products used by us are provided with a lifetime transferable warranty and come with our personal quality guarantee. Property owners who want to find out more about having windows installed by Canadian Choice should contact us today.


Julia Gurevich
Julia Gurevich

Julia Gurevich is a versatile content writer with a passion for delivering captivating narratives through a diverse and attentive approach. Her eye for detail helps her craft content that resonates with audiences across varied home improvement industries, capturing the perfect balance between information and entertainment. As a content coordinator, Julia takes pride in delivering content that leaves a lasting impact through her ability to navigate seamless content strategies and collaborative projects between teams. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Toronto’s cultural landscape, visiting local parks, and getting to know members of the community through events and activities.

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