There are few things as relaxing as a nice hot shower. You probably never thought of your shower as being a dangerous place, and for the most part it isn't. This is why it can be alarming to hear of instances when shower screens shatter, seemingly without warning. While it's not a common occurrence, you certainly don't want to be a rare victim of this unsettling event. So how can shower screens suddenly shatter, apparently of their own accord? And what can you to do to ensure it doesn't happen to you?
Shower screens are made of tempered glass, a process that is remarkable for its simplicity and efficiency. The glass is heated to a very high temperature (around 600°C) and then rapidly cooled using jets of cold air. The outer surfaces of the glass are compressed while the centre of the glass remains in tension, resulting in glass that is four times stronger than standard, non-tempered glass. While it's stronger, it's not unbreakable. But why can it suddenly shatter?
Cracks and Imperfections
A small crack or imperfection in tempered glass can destabilise the entire sheet. A tiny crack exposes the centre of the glass, and a resulting chain reaction can lead to the screen shattering. The centre of a sheet of tempered glass remains under pressure. A small crack can relieve this pressure, and so the entire piece shatters. So now you know how it can happen. But how do you actually stop it from happening?
You should regularly inspect your shower screen. This can easily be done while you clean it. Look for any small cracks or imperfections around the edges, paying particular attention to any sections where a bolt or screw has been inserted through the glass to hold it in place. You should also carefully check the door if your shower has one. Closing the door too hard, or any degradation to the rubber stoppers that have been installed to reduce impact can result in a damaged door.
Don't ignore any cracks you might find. You don't know if the shower screen will be affected, and you don't want to take any risks. Have the damage examined by a professional. The solution might be as simple as having a sheet of safety film applied to the glass. This strengthens it, and will contain the glass if it ever was to shatter.
Even though the sudden shattering a of a shower screen might not happen all that often, you certainly don't want it to happen to you or your family.