Main Bathroom, glass vessel sink EXPLODED

wheatcitiJanuary 24, 2009

Ok I may sound dramatic here but this is what truly happened about 4 hours ago.

The whole family was in the kitchen . dining area when out-of-nowhere a sound like a car back firing happened in our main floor bathroom,

When I turned or more like ran down the hallway I saw glass coming out of the bathroom, and into my daughters room

The glass vessel sink closest to the door was shattered in a million pieces.

There was enough of a force to damage the walls on the oppisate side of the bathroom and pieces of glass were still wedged in the wall.

How can this happen?????????

No one was using the bathroom at this time thank goodness as could you imagine if one of our children were brushing their teeth at that time :-0

I don't know how to add the pics I took of the after mass.

Please give me some advise as we still have the matching sink still "hooked up, and what other options do I have for above counter sink other then glass now?

Thanks in advance

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Not unheard of for tempered glass. Recently our curio cabinet glass panels shattered right in front of our eyes!! Sounded like a blast and glass was everywhere!
Tempered glass holds stresses within it and those get released either by external or internal causes. A slight tap on the edge of tempered glass can cause it to shatter. I have read that it can explode even without anything external hitting it!

It took hours to clean the mess.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 10:08PM
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I have been trying to upload pictures of my mess for an hour now And I cannot seem to have it work.
My iphotos are to too large

I can't believe this sink just went BOOM literately

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 10:13PM
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You're terrifying me. My sliding shower doors are tempered glass.

I'm so glad no one was hurt, wheatciti!

But seriously here - what the @(*&!@???

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 10:17PM
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Tempered glass shatters into something other than shards and is not considered to be a great hazard. It is a form of safety glass.

Sometimes tempered glass shatters for no apparent reason. Usually, it is due to internal stresses left over from the manufacturing process. They can let go at any time without warning or an external trigger. When it does, it is a warranty issue.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 10:37PM
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wow...I would never have thought. We buy tempered glass for cabinets and such for safety and strength..uhmmm

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 11:49PM
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Sometimes tempered glass will shatter due to poor installation. My MIL had a TV cabinet door shatter spontaneously soon after it was put together because the door had not been attached properly. I can't remember now whether it was screwed in too tight or not level but Best Buy replaced it at no charge. Maybe you could check into how your sink was installed and if an error was made in the installation.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 8:12AM
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This does not sound like a simple shattering though, wouldn't it just shatter and fall? The OP says that shards of glass embedded themselves in the opposite wall! Does not sound at all "safe" to me! If it stuck in the wall, it could easily stick in flesh. I thought tempered glass was supposed to become granular - like a car windshield.

I am glad everyone is ok. If the second sink in the bath is from the same manufacturer - I would cover it with a heavy tarp - or a really big plastic bin - anything that will contain the glass should it explode like the other. If there is another bathroom that can be used for the time being, just shut the door to this one until you can have the sink issue resolved.
Email the manufacturer with pics. Ask for a resolution - a totally different type of sink or for money back since you are now afraid to have this product in your home.
I don't know anything about vessel sinks, so I can't help you there.
I just *shudder* when I think of your story.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 9:22AM
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Hi actually I don't know who the manufacture is as it has been 20 months now since it's been installed. Past the one year warranty.

As for installation issues it was installed by a licensed journeyman plumber who
used to use these sinks every day. (my husband)
He was home as well when this occurred and was the one you cleaned up all the glass.

Yes there was force when it broke as there was glass stuck in the wall and damage to the paint on the opposite side of the bathroom.

the glass was also found in my daughters room across the hall, and of course in the hallway.
I did indeed cover the second sink and we turned the water off.
Any suggestions on nice looking porcelain vessel sinks?
or non shattering material ones?

No one was injured yesterday, but i went to have a bath this morning and got glass stuck in my backside, and feet.
apparently the tub was some what over looked when cleaned up. :-(

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 9:49AM
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All I can say is "wow". I've had Pyrex shatter in my oven before which makes me wonder if it's tempered glass too. Someone was watching over you and your family last night, so glad you were not in the room when that happened, yikes.

Sure there are all kinds of non glass vessel sinks, ceramic, stainless steel, copper onyx, granite even wood. You may want to check out Faucetsdirect, they have 63 pages of vessel sinks! Time to go shoppin!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 11:02AM
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Your sink may have a lifetime warranty or more than a one year. CAREFULLY check the other sink for any manufacturer's info. Also, see if you can check where you bought it. They may have information for you, too.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 12:36PM
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I'm still fixated on my shower door. I just cleaned my bathroom, and I was ***SO*** careful cleaning the door! The idea of this thing spontaneously exploding while I'm taking a shower, or brushing my teeth, or anything really - it's a tiny bathroom. The shower door is *there*.

How come these things don't come with warning labels???

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 2:32PM
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Just another to say it's not unheard of. Our stove door shattered as we sat eating dinner one night. We had used it that evening but it was cooling off and had only been heated to 350 F. This was a 40 year old stove. I wouldn't say it exploded, but there was glass everywhere.

I also say it's a warranty issue - even if you only had a one year warranty. The name of the manufacturer should be somewhere on that sink.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 4:35PM
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I'd do fireclay or metal sinks after that experience. I saw some nice St Thomas vessel sinks at our local plumbing store just the other day. Nice!

This is way too scary. I have two large windows installed above my claw foot tub. They have to be tempered according to code... Yikes!

Aren't our windshields tempered glass too?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 4:41PM
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In the US, windshields are laminated safety glass. They have a layer of plastic between the two glass pieces. They are designed not to fly into pieces. The rest of the automotive glass is tempered.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 5:06PM
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So glad you and your family weren't injured. but it's so timely that you posted about this because just the other day I was researching glass shower doors and came across a lot of websites about the exploding-tempered-glass problem. It actually has to do with the process of tempering the glass -- the nickel sulfide is cooled too quickly, or something like that. Anyway, my dh said that it shouldn't stop us from getting the glass doors because the chances of it happening are less than the chances of other random accidents, like an an auto accident. But now that I know about this problem, I'll think of it every time I look at those glass doors!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 5:33PM
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What "brand" of glass vessel sink do you have? There are so many on the market. We've had two installed for years (one for just under 10 years in a powder room) but they are hand blown glass vessel sinks made by an artisan in the NW ( Somewhat spendy, but truly works of art. While installing a mirror I dropped a hammer into one of them and I couldn't believe that it didn't break - not even a scratch!

I've often wondered about the "molded" sinks we've seen coming in from China these past few years and have heard mixed reports. I'm sure others on the board here would be interested in hearing what specific sink it was if you are willing to share.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 7:25PM
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I just spoke to a glass worker I know rather well. She said that what happened to the sink in this thread was almost certainly because it was cooled too fast. There is a lot of cheaply made "artisan" glass coming into the US from overseas. Production is likely forced, and corners are almost certainly cut. One way to speed the process is to cool the glass as rapidly as possible without it cracking. Unfortunately, that is a good way to produce a product with internal stresses, which may let go later.

It can also happen to the best producers. Even the famed Blenko Glass has produced pieces that have spontaneously cracked long after they were manufactured.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 7:44PM
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Let me guess - another product from the same guys who have poisoned dogs and babies?

I dropped by the plumbing store today. When I saw a glass vessel sink on display, I mentioned what happened to wheatciti's sink. He said it was likely a manufacturing stress problem but he had also heard of loud music breaking tempered glass.

I told him I hadn't heard of any trends lately where people are holding concerts in their bathrooms lately but maybe the kids were practicing a new instrument. LOL!

I love that there is plastic in my windshield.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 8:22PM
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The OP didn't say it was tempered glass . . . I suspect Muddypond's friend is correct, that it was one of the imported artisan glass bowls. My original plan was to use them in a couple places -- I was amazed at how many inexpensive ones I could find. I ended up using porcelain ones instead.

Good luck finding replacements . . . and getting the shards out of your . . . ummm . . . bathtub!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 8:27PM
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hostagrams is absolutely right -- the OP has *NOT* said that the sinks were tempered glass. The shards seem to confirm this. Tempered glass breaks into little tiny pieces -- mosaicists use it all the time in its broken state. That sink really doesn't sound like it was tempered. Pharaoh just happened to mention tempered glass in the first response--that's where the word came up.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 11:43PM
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I looked into this a little. I think I know where the confusion comes from.

Tempered glass is made a couple of ways. One is by controlled annealing. To anneal glass, its temperature is raised in a kiln to a point that the internal stressed are relieved, but not high enough for the glass to deform. It is then cooled slowly under controlled conditions. If it is cooled too rapidly or the kiln has an uneven temperature distribution, the stresses may not be relieved.

These glass sinks do not appear to be made from tempered glass, per se, but the manufacturing process does include annealing. The sinks are made of colored art glass, which is manufactured specifically to be worked with heat. The art glass is heated in a kiln to the point that it deforms into a mold in a process known as slumping. Decorative pieces may also be fused to the main piece at the same time. Once the glass is slumped and/or fused, it is annealed by slow cooling to relieve the internal stresses. In theory, this prevents the glass from cracking or shattering.

The process requires precise control of time and temperature. The glass may be held at specific temperatures for specific amounts of time. Modern kilns, even hobbyist versions, are computer controlled, with varying programs for different types and thicknesses of glass. If the glass worker gets it wrong, the piece will crack, usually during the annealing process. However, it may crack later. Even if the glass worker does everything right, the glass will sometimes crack.

Based on what I have learned and the experience of the OP here, I would not purchase a glass sink from an unknown source. I might purchase one from a local artisan with a good reputation, but even then I would be a bit leery of it.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 8:13AM
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You don't need to worry about your shower door exploding & impaling you. It's made out of tempered glass specifically for safety's sake, so that if it does break it breaks into the almost bead-like little pieces instead of dangerous shards. I had the slider in my bedroom (tempered) shatter in the middle of the night - looked like it had been hit from outside with a sledge hammer. We had the cops at the house thinking someone was trying to break-in before we realized it was a faulty door and a very slight earthquake (that we slept through) had pushed it past it's stress point!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 9:41AM
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It's my understanding that it is precisely the tempered type of glass that can spontaneously explode. It is the process of tempering it that involves very fast cooling. In fact, one of the consumer complaint websites I read had two complaints about exploding tempered-glass shower doors made by a well-known manufacturer.

Here is a link that might be useful: complaint about exploding tempered glass shower door

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 9:49AM
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I've pasted below a link to another webiste that describes a spontaneous explosion of tempered glass. This site includes links to a mini-physics lesson on why this can occur.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example and explanation of exploding tempered glass

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 9:58AM
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My bathroom sink exploded too! We left Saturday morning, came back Sunday evening to find our lovely glass sink in a million pieces. We thought, "Oh no, theives!" but quickly realized that the sink had just exploded all by its lonesome. Bizarre.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:57PM
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antique mirrors were very rare up to the 1700s. These reproduction antique mirrors are of a consistent quality, and both have a subtle understated look which will blend easily into any period home. Very large mirrors were still very expensive but the smaller wall mounted mirrors or small tilting mirrors were cheap enough for people to buy.When considering covering large wall areas in antique mirror there are certain tips which will help you achieve a perfect finish visit this site for some useful tips it suerly helps you www [dot] gxglass [dot] com

Here is a link that might be useful: Glass manufacturer London

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 4:45AM
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