|Tempered glass is still safer than standard glass.|
Temperature changes in your home can cause glass furniture to explode (WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. ) - With a hammer, a Window Doctor employee struck a piece of tempered glass. Blow after blow, the glass held up. Due to that strength, furniture makers prefer using it. However, some consumers have found a downside.
"I'm surprised. I'm shocked," explained Patty Velez. Velez was watching morning television when a noise upstairs startled her. "It was loud enough it scared the dogs," Velez explained. Velez ran upstairs, and couldn't believe the mess in her room. "This whole glass was shattered like it is here," Velez said as she showed us her damaged glass cabinet. "And it was bowing three or four inches out and I could tell it was just ready to go." Within seconds, "It finished exploding and all the glass fell to the floor. It continued crackling and popping almost like popcorn on the floor."
What happened here, could happen to you. "It's common in the industry," explained Gary Orman of Innovative Window Concepts . Orman said all homeowners should beware. "You never know when or if it's going to happen," Orman said. Orman said tempered glass spontaneously shatters from normal expansion and contraction from temperature changes that might occur in your home from air conditioning and sunshine.
"Tempered glass is tempered in a heat oven and brought up to a certain degree temperature and cooled quickly to make the glass stronger. It puts the internal pieces into compression and the external pieces into tension, and gives strength to the glass," Orman said. "There are particles in there that do not melt and those particles will change as the heat changes." "It's 4 out of 1,000 pieces that do it," Orman said.
Four out of a thousand may not sound like a lot, but there are dozens of complaints with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for patio furniture, shower doors, desks, and glass cabinets. "Would you buy another piece of furniture like that?" Strathman asked Velez. "No definitely not," Velez said.
Despite the examples, furniture makers say tempered glass is actually safer. So we set up a demonstration with the Window Doctor. We used two pieces of glass that look the same, but there's a huge difference when hit. We compared annealed or standard glass with tempered glass. After just one hit, the standard glass shatters into large sharp pieces that can easily cut you. With the tempered glass, after one hit in the same spot the glass is still in tact. Even after six hits, not a chip or a crack.
"With tempered glass the edge is what takes the tension," said Orman.
So we put the hammer to the test on the edge of the tempered glass. It took 8 hits before the glass shattered into a million pieces. The size and texture of the tempered shards are much smaller and duller compared with the annealed glass. "It might be safer but it can still cut you," Velez said.
"Now that you know this happened to other people what do you want the manufacturers to do?" Strathman asked Velez. "I think they need to tell people there is a possibility this could happen with this type of glass," Velez said. Velez's furniture was built by IKEA. Their website warns customers to handle the glass with care especially the edges which in "exceptional cases can cause the glass to break suddenly." Something Velez wishes she knew before she was left cleaning up a mess.
After our calls to IKEA, they replaced the glass in the broken cabinet and another piece of furniture to make sure this doesn't happen again. It's an issue that can impact any tempered glass furniture -- no matter the manufacturer.