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7 Common Causes of Broken Glass and How to Avoid Them

7 Common Causes of Broken Glass and How to Avoid Them

If you want to avoid the need for glass repair and replacement, it’s important to know why it breaks and how to avoid it. 

Glass is a great way to add modern, interesting, and beautiful components to your property. Windows help bring the outdoors in and open up space, while European shower doors offer a clean, chic look to a bathroom.

Having glass design elements in your house comes with many benefits; however, it also means that if you and your loved ones aren’t careful you run the potential risk of dealing with damaged glass. In order to help you avoid these types of issues, it helps to understand why glass breaks and some of the common causes of damaged glass.

Glass repair: 7 reasons glass can break

While glass is a strong building material, it can be prone to breaking in certain instances. Below are seven common causes of damaged glass and how you can prevent it from happening:

  1. Temperature fluctuations — Generally speaking, glass is a poor thermal conductor and does not handle temperature changes very well. Sudden changes in temperature sometimes cause stress fractures in the glass, leading to breaks.
    As glass is warmed, it expands, creating stress forces and resulting in fractures. Excessive heat, such as temps between 300° and 400° Fahrenheit, can also lead to glass breaking. On the other hand, when glass is quickly cooled down, it contracts, also causing stress fractures.
  2. Old weathered glass — Imagine an old, dilapidated property. Did you picture its windows broken, shattered, or otherwise damaged? It’s a common component in dated, weathered homes. Like other elements of a house, glass will wear down over the years and eventually require replacing. Between intense elements and regular use, glass windows can become worn and brittle.

If your home has older windows, it may be time to consider replacing them. Most industry experts agree that well-maintained, high-quality windows will last a couple of decades or more. Some manufacturers even have a 20- to 25-year warranty. 

Accidentally Broken By Children Playing Outside
  1. Accidents — Either you were the kid or you knew the kid who accidentally threw a ball through the neighbor’s window. It’s not uncommon for windows to be accidentally broken by children playing outside. 
    Or, perhaps you live near a golf course; homeowners run the risk of stray golf balls striking their homes and potentially breaking a window.
    Maybe a family member accidentally knocks something into a mirror, causing it to shatter. Regardless of the accident, you may find yourself in need of a glass replacement for a window, glass handrail, mirror, shower door, or another glass element in your house.
  2. Vandalism — In other cases, glass damage isn’t an accident. Vandalism often takes the form of spray-painted graffiti, defaced property, and, in many cases, damaged glass. Vandalism most commonly impacts the exterior of your property. 
    Even if vandalism is the result of a prank or practical joke, property owners are the ones left to deal with the hassle of repairs and insurance claims or, in worst-case scenarios, footing the bill themselves.
  3. Natural disasters — Natural disasters can take a serious toll on glass surfaces. When window glass isn’t thick enough, high winds can lead to windows breaking. The same applies to windows that are too big and do not have adequate engineering to withstand wind.
    Wind can send projectiles, like sticks, and depending on their size, how hard they hit, and where they hit the glass, even small sticks can cause damage to windows. Thankfully, Utah doesn’t have intense weather hurricanes or tornadoes; however, even Utah’s extreme wind storms can result in damage, too. 
    In Utah, the greatest natural disaster risk is earthquakes. Utah’s Wasatch Fault is due for a huge earthquake in the next 50 years. It has a 43% chance of being a 6.75 or greater magnitude.
  4. Damaged glass — Glass windows, handrails, doors, and other types of glass elements can become nicked, chipped, or otherwise damaged during a move or installation. You may not notice minor damage right away, but over time, glass expanding and contracting could exacerbate the damage.
    This aggravation of the glass will weaken it and make it more susceptible to shattering and breaking. If your glass is tempered, you can expect the entire panel to break. If this happens, you’ll need to find a replacement.
    Internal defects — Not all damage is because of an error during installation or moving. Sometimes, damaged glass can occur because the glass is defective itself. Tiny bits of the machinery used to form and handle the glass can break away and become inclusions in the glass.

These nicks can contain steel or nickel, which will change the glass structure over time. They grow and create internal stress points that will break the glass once the stress outfights its strength. Tempered glass is most susceptible to this type of breakage.

How to prevent glass from breaking: 7 pro tips

If you want to avoid the need for glass repair and replacement, there are some things you can do to prevent it from breaking:

  1. How to avoid glass from breaking and temperature fluctuations — Using toughened glass throughout your property can reduce the risk of spontaneous glass breakage from thermal shock. Moreover, always warm or cool your glass components slowly, i.e., never put warm water on frost-covered glass. Slowly warm it instead to remove frost.
  2. How to prevent glass from breaking due to age — Because older glass is more likely to break, it’s important to stay on top of care, maintenance, and replacements so your property remains efficient and secure.
  3. How to avoid glass from breaking because of an accident — Accidents happen; they’re inevitable. But you can do some things to lessen the chances of one occurring. Having safety measures in place, such as a gripping shower floor surface, hand railings, or a protective netting system for your home, helps keep your home’s glass components safe.
  4. How to prevent glass from breaking due to vandalism — Getting safety measures in place helps you avoid vandalism. Whether it’s a commercial or residential property, make sure your property is well-lit on the exterior. Vandals are less likely to target something where they could be seen. 
    Get a security system installed, fit with cameras. And make sure you have a good insurance policy.
  5. How to stop natural disasters from breaking your glass — There’s nothing you can do to stop a natural disaster from happening; however, there are some things you can do to protect your glass windows. It is not uncommon for homeowners and business owners to install hurricane shutters to protect their windows. Otherwise, there isn’t much that can be done except having a good insurance policy.
  6. How to avoid broken glass due to it being damaged — Like our accidents section above, there isn’t really avoiding damaged glass other than being careful. Remind movers and installers to be cautious as they work.
  7. How to stop internal defects from damaging your glass — There’s also not much homeowners can do to avoid this. Ensuring you have a warranty on the glass throughout your home is the best safety net you can put in place.

Precautions and procedures for cleaning up broken glass

There’s no doubt that broken glass can be frustrating, messy, and even hazardous if not handled carefully. If you find yourself dealing with shattered glass, despite implementing our ways to avoid it, it is crucial to handle the cleaning-up process properly.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Wear close-toed shoes and cut-resistant gloves, like gloves made from thick leather, to handle broken pieces. Make sure to keep children and pets away from the area until it has cleaning is finished.
  • Carefully remove the large pieces with your gloved hands or tongs.
  • Use a potato or soft piece of bread to pick up smaller bits by pressing them onto the shards. Make sure to dispose of the potato or bread immediately.
  • Use a dustpan and broom to clean up smaller pieces.
  • Then, use a vacuum in the area.
  • Remember that pieces can travel farther than you might think, so look all around, even several feet from the break site.
Need glass repair or replacement The pros at Murray Glass are here to help

Need glass repair or replacement? The pros at Murray Glass are here to help!

While it’s not something that happens very often, it’s good to have a plan in place for what to do if you need glass repair or replacement.

Whether you need glass repair, glass replacement, or have a custom job, the glass experts at Murray Glass are here for you. Our knowledgeable team has over three decades of industry experience and is proud to be Utah’s go-to glass professional

We are here to help you make your glass projects come to life. Whether that’s a unique glass wine cellar, European shower doors and tub surrounds, glass handrails, or something else.

Murray Glass is Northern Utah’s leading glass company and the trusted professional for all things glass in Murray, Park City, Salt Lake City, and the surrounding area.

Contact the Murray Glass team today for a free estimate.

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