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What Is Spontaneous Glass Breakage and Why It Happens?

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It is never ideal for your windows to break and in some cases, it can in fact be dangerous.  It isn’t uncommon for windows to shatter without a clear reason as to why. 

Spontaneous glass breakage is a term coined to describe the process when glass breaks without an apparent reason. But are there hidden causes for spontaneous glass breakage? 

Let’s take a closer look. 

What Causes Spontaneous Glass Breakage? 

On the surface glass may appear secure, however, it  might be susceptible to breaking without you knowing. Here are some common causes of spontaneous glass breakage: 

  1. Frame-related breakage 

One potential cause of spontaneous glass breakage is related to the expansion and contraction of glass frame members. This occurs when things such as setting blocks or edge blocks are missing or do not sufficiently cushion glass against glass-to-metal contact occurring by temperature or wind movement. As a result, this can cause edge and surface damage leading to glass failure for no clear reason. 

  1. Poor edge quality 

Another cause of spontaneous glass breakage can stem from the manufacturing process where the edges of the glass are chipped or dented when being cut or packed and shipped. Although this isn’t always apparent initially, stress around the edges when it is being installed can cause spontaneous glass breakage. 

  1. Thermal stress 

Spontaneous glass breakage can also be caused by thermal stress. This occurs when there is a difference in temperature between the centre and the edge of the glass – with the centre being hotter. The warmer centre increases the stress on the edge of the glass, causing the glass to break. 

  1. Nickel-sulphide inclusion

A much rarer cause of unexpected breakage is caused by glass that is contaminated with nickel-sulphide inclusions. These inclusions are invisible to the eye and extremely difficult to prevent in the plate glass manufacturing process. 

During the tempering process, plate glass is heated until it reaches its softening point and then cooled rapidly – resulting in the surface of the glass cooling quicker than the glass. This process is what gives toughened glass its strength. 

Despite this, any nickel-sulphide inclusions are frozen in an unstable state during the tempering process. This can be detrimental to the integrity of the glass as over time these inclusions will resort back to their stable states creating weak spots in the glass and later cause the glass to spontaneously break. 

Choose quality glazing from Barnham Windows

Whilst spontaneous glass breakage is rare, it is still important to choose a trusted glazing supplier to help prevent any unexpected breakages. 

At Barnham Windows, we believe that you should never compromise on quality. That is why we are committed to supplying all of our customers with first-class products and installation service. Manufactured using an industry-leading process, you can rest assured that all of our products are tried and tested to ensure no hidden defects. 

If you’re looking for quality glazing products in Bognor Regis, Littlehampton or West Sussex, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to discuss your options with you. Already know what you’re after? Use our online tool to design your ideal window, door or conservatory just the way you want and receive a free quote today. 

About Us

Barnham Windows & Conservatories have been supplying and installing beautifully designed and high quality doors, windows and conservatories for over 35 years. Based in Barnham, West Sussex our goal is to provide our customers with a first class design and installation service at an affordable price.

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