Shower Door Safety

3 December 2014
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


Glass shower doors are an elegant upgrade from traditional shower curtains.  Not only do they resist mold and mildew better than their fabric counterparts, they are great for showing off beautifully tiled showers and giving a spa-like feel to a typical bathroom.   And because the law requires that shower doors be constructed from tempered glass rather than typical glass, they are also reasonably safe.  Still, even doors made of so-called "safety glass" can shatter, causing injury.  This article looks at ways to prevent yourself from being hurt by a glass shower enclosure.  

What is Tempered Glass?

Its not hard to imagine the hazards traditional glass--which tends to break into long sharp shards--would pose in a bathroom environment.  For this reason, glass used in shower doors undergoes special chemical and thermal treatments to strengthen it.  This process compresses the exterior of the glass while tensing the inside of it, creating a dynamic that causes the glass to shatter into thousands of very small bits.  These small chunks of glass, also seen when automobile windows are broken, are less likely to cause injury.  

What is the Danger?

While tempering glass affects the shape and relative sharpness of individual shards, it doesn't entirely eliminate the danger posed by broken glass.  Exposure to even small granules of grass can still result in cuts and other injury.  Also, tempering glass increases its resistance to direct impact, but actually makes it more vulnerable to side impacts,.  This means a piece of safety glass that's bumped hard on its edge is susceptible to shattering.  

What You Should Do

Incidents involving shower doors shattering are relatively rare, but do happen.  The best way to prevent them is to maintain your shower doors in good working condition.  First, make sure the door is securely attached to the frame.  If it were to slip from the door system, it would likely impact on an edge, which has a high likelihood for shattering the pane. Similarly, make sure the glass panels has good seals and bumpers preventing it from coming in direct contact with walls or metal parts of the frame, which, again, could result in a hard impact to the edges.  You should also periodically check for any cracks or chips.  These are most likely to occur around the edges or near where hardware is attached.  If any are noticed, replace the door immediately: these seemingly small cracks can suddenly expand, resulting in unexpected, seemingly spontaneous, shattering.  

What You Shouldn't Do

Normal door operation shouldn't pose any particular hazard, especially if the door is in good condition. However, you should avoid putting unusual pressure on it. This means not using the towel bars as a safety grab or as a support for getting up and down from the toilet.  

Just In Case

Finally, make it a habit to keep a towel within arm's reach when showering.  That way if the door ever does shatter, you can use the towel to cover the glass and can exit the shower safely even with bare feet.  It's also a good idea to keep an eye on younger children while they are using the shower so you can assist them if anything occurs.

Glass shower enclosures are a beautiful addition to almost any bathroom, and can generally be expected to perform safely for many years, especially if these basic steps guidelines are observed. Visit a glass store like Glass Impressions for shower door options for your bathroom.