ONETIME- Shattered glass: It can happen, so be prepared

Bill Herring of Eagle Window

One time, we were doing a home show, and we had one company that produced their vinyl windows with all tempered glass. So we would set a sash of tempered glass on two blocks, six inches above the floor, and have people step on it. We'd get on it, bounce up and down. If it breaks, it's going to break, but it's usually pretty tough. 

And this young fella, about sixteen years old, comes up and he steps on it. As soon as he stepped on it, it shattered. It makes a really loud bang when it breaks– it scared everybody. 

What happened was if anything sharp hits the tempered glass, it will usually fracture immediately. He had a little, sharp rock lodged in his tennis shoe– he probably didn't even know it was there– and that's all it took. When he got on the glass and jumped up a couple of times and hit it in the right place, it shattered into a million pieces. 

It usually holds up very well, but eventually you can get a break. You won't get cut with that stuff, though. (Tempered glass is also far better because it's clear and never fogs up.)

But tempered glass has been very exciting over the years. 

We can put a brand-new door on, open it, shut it, and all of a sudden see the breaking start. That's unusual, but it has happened. Tempered glass is made so that when the shards break, it won't cut you. A lot of people who walk through plate glass get cut up really bad. 

I had people with a sliding patio door with tempered glass just walking, opening the door, and it shatters. And it will stay there a lot of times for a little while before it starts falling out.

 We used to be in the commercial glass business, but we replaced plate glass in some of the local stores. And we had one store where we had at least three times in a six-year period people walk through their plate glass windows. A couple of them were hurt really badly. 

When the tempered glass law went into effect for storm doors, you had to have plexiglass or tempered glass. The law is very specific: every door has to have acrylic in it. Most people like the acrylic, because although it breaks with sharp shards like regular glass, but it doesn't cut like glass does. It loses its color and scratches very easily– tempered glass doesn't do that. 

There have been cases where windows were put in the wrong place within a house, and you'd like to kill the installer because he was given a diagram. But he doesn't always read it!