Spontaneous Glass Breakage: What is it and What to do if it Happens

June 26, 2020

Last updated on February 2, 2024

You’re sitting in a cafe, enjoying the AC during the hottest part of your summer. Then, suddenly the glass next to you shatters. No one touched it, and no one even looked at it. What happened? The phenomenon is called spontaneous glass breakage, and it only happens with tempered glass. Kryger Glass is familiar with this situation. 

Spontaneous Glass Breakage

The process of tempering glass involves strengthening the glass by superheating the glass and quickly dropping the temperature. When done correctly, your glass becomes four times as strong as untempered glass. 

Spontaneous glass breakage can happen if there is a flaw in the tempered glass, encouraging the deterioration of the glass. Flaws can happen in the production process, through errors in tempering, or extra chemical compounds such as nickel sulfide (NiS) being added into the raw materials. Further, tiny nicks or chips can weaken the glass and cause breakage. 

Tempering and Material Flaws

When you temper glass, it shrinks the outer layers over the inner layers. If the raw materials are pure, then tempering is consistent. If there is a new compound, such as NiS, introduced in the early stages, the tempering process will not produce the same results. It may look the same as a correctly processed glass panel, but over the life of the glass, you may see increased deterioration.

Glass Deterioration

The process of deterioration is slow. You may develop a small chip or scratch that you can’t see with your naked eye. Through temperature changes and winds, that chip or scratch increases and spreads microscopically. Until finally, the glass shatters. 

Nicks and Chips

During the installation process, there is a possibility of chipping the edges of the glass. If your installer damages the glass edges during the process of transport or installation, you may not see it once the frames are in place. There is a good chance that a tiny nick or chip won’t affect your window, but in rare situations, it can cause a spontaneous break. 


If you’re building a new home or repairing old windows, there are ways to limit the chances of spontaneous breakage in the future. Below are some tips to help limit breakage from happening: 

Trusted Manufacturers

Sometimes, it’s challenging to find out where your window installation company sources their glass. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Kryger Glass wants you to move forward with your project with confidence in the materials we offer. 

Safety Glass

You can request glass that is laminated so that if the glass shatters, the pieces don’t spread everywhere. When a clear laminate is applied to one or both sides of the tempered glass, it will contain any pieces if it breaks. This is the standard of modern automotive glass. Some projects have standards that prevent this measure, so ensure you’ve done your research. 

Quality Control Measures

Some manufacturers use magnetic monitors and metal detectors. This ensures that the glass they put out for customers is the highest quality. This helps prevent unwanted elements from being introduced to the raw materials. 

Kryger Glass Family 

The Kryger Glass family has been serving the midwest for four generations, and are standing by to help you with your build project today. Give us a call today to discuss your needs, and have all of your questions answered. 

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