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Glass sliding door keeps shattering in the sun

Glass sliding door keeps shattering in the sun

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  #1  
Old 09-01-13, 10:11 PM
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Glass sliding door keeps shattering in the sun

My house has a large double-pane glass sliding door (sorry I don't have a picture, but your typical sliding door). It faces the west and the outer of the two tempered panes has already shattered twice in about 3 years.

I have two questions:
  1. Why does this happen? What can we do to stop it? Is there heat resistant glass?
  2. Can we replace the pane or do we have to replace the whole door? The previous homeowner fixed it the first time and I believe they just replaced the pane.

Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 09-01-13, 11:33 PM
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The glass is breaking because of uneven expansion when heated by the sun. This is caused either by the glass being too large for the frame, i.e. the frame does not have the proper clearances all around for the glass to expand, or improper replacement technique.

You MAY have a cheap*** door and if so it will need to be completely replaced. Or you might need to find a competent glass door repair shop that can get a properly sized pane of glass and properly install that glass. How to ascertain the quality of your existing door OR how to find a competent shop are things that I cannot help you with, sorry.
 
  #3  
Old 09-02-13, 05:02 AM
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Having been in the glass business, I've seen this happen a few times. To add to Furd's explanation, "The problem occurs with tempered glass, which manufacturers use because of its safety value but pre-existing damage and imperfections are both factors in the doors' spontaneous shattering."

"The number one reason glass doors break is because of some form of damage to the glass around the edges of that door. The number two reason would be through inclusions, microscopic imperfections that grow into a larger crack internally to the pressure layers. Those pressure layers eventually cause the glass to just shatter."

You must replace the insulating glass unit that is properly sized in width, length and thickness. Have a professional do it.
 
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Old 09-02-13, 09:26 AM
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Thanks for all the replies.

You must replace the insulating glass unit that is properly sized in width, length and thickness. Have a professional do it.
By "glass unit" do you mean the pane or the entire door?
 
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Old 09-02-13, 09:56 AM
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The glass unit is the sandwich of the layers of glass and inert gas between them - you have to replace the whole unit, not the individual pieces of glass.
 
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Old 09-02-13, 10:14 AM
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That makes sense, thanks!
 
  #7  
Old 09-02-13, 02:28 PM
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I've heard of spontaneous breakage, but have never seen it. The culprit has always been a kid with a bb gun, or a rock thrown by a weed whacker, lawn mower, or in one case, a 3-point tractor mower that was 50 yards away- the rock it threw nearly hit the lady of the house who was weeding flowers near the window at the time, or she never would have believed it.

If rubber spacers around the glass were not used to cushion the glass, that could be a factor too. Tempered glass is weakest on it's edge. You can hit the glass with a hammer and it won't break, but tap the edge or put enough pressure on it at a single point and it will. So if there is any pressure on the edge due to heat expansion I could see it happening. But twice is a real coincidence... sounds like something wrong... or the glass is being ordered too big.

Is this on the sliding panel or the fixed panel? Do these windows have any non-factory tinting applied to the interior side of the glass?
 
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Old 09-02-13, 02:39 PM
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It's possible something may have hit it, if that's the case though, we have no evidence. We suspected heat because it directly faces the summer sun.

This is the fixed side. There is no tinting or anything on it. In fact, I believe we have never used this door (we have a desk sitting in front of it).
 
  #9  
Old 09-02-13, 03:30 PM
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Is there any way you could attach a picture? Is this an aluminum framed door? Occasionally I have seen aluminum framed doors that were so tight in their rough opening that when the header sagged due to excessive weight from above, that the pressure was actually pushing down on the glass. Glass isn't structural and can't handle much pressure on edge.

Only way to check that would be to remove interior trim above the door and see if it's tight around the frame of the door. And if it's shimmed within the rough opening, whether or not the shimmed points are under excessive pressure.

Maybe if you cleaned all the broken glass off on top, you could set a short level on the top edge of the fixed door frame. If the frame seems bowed at all, the glass might be getting stressed from above. Or if you can remove the glazing stops that hold the glass in, and examine the perimeter of the UNBROKEN glass... perhaps you could tell if it's tight in the opening or not. There usually should be 1/8" of space between the glass and the frame... it should never be in direct contact with the frame. Those rubber setting blocks that I mentioned earlier are usually spaced out > 16" or so around the perimeter to maintain that 1/8" gap.
 
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Old 09-02-13, 09:06 PM
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Yes definitely. I am traveling for the week but I'll post one when I'm back hopefully by Friday. Thanks again for the input!
 
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Old 09-06-13, 03:13 PM
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Pictures as promised. You can view them in higher resolution directly: Sliding Door

[ATTACH=CONFIG]17348[/ATTACH]
[ATTACH=CONFIG]17349[/ATTACH]
[ATTACH=CONFIG]17350[/ATTACH]
[ATTACH=CONFIG]17351[/ATTACH]
 
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Old 09-06-13, 03:44 PM
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I've heard of spontaneous breakage, but have never seen it. The culprit has always been a kid with a bb gun, or a rock thrown by a weed whacker, lawn mower, or in one case, a 3-point tractor mower that was 50 yards away
I'm leaning toward this scenario myself. I have seen weed whackers kick rocks and break glass twice. Once a gas whacker broke a car window and a small electric break a full sized glass door at 40'. The OP states it is always the same side that breaks. Is the screen door always on the left (unbroken side) as shown in the photo? Hopefully it doesn't happen again but if it does, check your adjacent backyard neighbor's yards for a freshly cut lawn or weeds.
 
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Old 09-06-13, 04:16 PM
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Yes it usually it on the left side, but thanks for the suggestion. I'll take another look at it.
 
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Old 09-06-13, 10:35 PM
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The glazing strip looks unusually pinched in the upper right corner... that's the only thing i see that looks unusual.
 
  #15  
Old 09-07-13, 05:07 AM
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Another thought. Is this frame sitting directly on the concrete slab? And is this window in direct sunlight at any time of the day? If so, expansion and contraction of the frame in the sunlight will warp the frame and if the frame is imbedded in the concrete then it has no way of flexing with the change in temp. The door frame needs a bit of "slop" to compensate for temperature differences.

Example: I had a garage door that would bind during the winter months. It was facing south and had a full sun exposure. Many adjustments to opener and limit setting made little difference. Then one sharp garage door technician saw that one of the side rails was sitting on the concrete. As the sun & temperature changed the concrete would ever so slightly heave causing the rail to mis-align. By cutting about a 1/4" off the bottom of the rail so it was not touching the floor solved the problem. Now I never have a door problem.
 
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Old 09-07-13, 08:23 AM
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Hm that's a good point. I do believe it sits directly on the slab, although what really can be done if it's a door? Funny you mention your garage, because mine also has the same problem in the summer and winter. However, it's also 20 years old and visably warped...
 
  #17  
Old 09-07-13, 08:38 AM
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If that's in fact the problem. One possible alternative, though work intensive, is to cut a trench in the slab and use a wood footer to rest the door frame on. Or maybe the header could be modified. It would take some careful inspection and ingenuity to make it work. However, at that point a new door might be in order and then the whole rough opening modified to properly fit the door. You would want to get a qualified installer and a guaranty.
 
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