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What to Do If Your Shower Door Breaks

Glass Breakage
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Glass shower doors enhance and highlight the beauty of bathroom designs. Whether a sliding shower door or a swinging door, both are great ways to show off trendy showers. But like all mechanical things, there can be problems that come along with these doors. It can be as minor as a loose screw, or as major as having the glass shatter mid-shower. Hopefully, you never end up with a shattered shower door, but just in case you do, it’s good to know the do’s and dont’s when handling a broken glass door. Fixes can be as easy as tightening a screw, but especially when working with glass; it’s better and safer to seek professional help.

Quick Shower Door Fixes

Sometimes all your shower door needs is a good cleaning. Years of soap and hard water build up can take a toll on your shower door. If your sliding shower door isn’t sliding as easily as it should, the track might be full of build up. The same goes for doors with hinges. There might be build up around the hinges as well, causing your door to not open or close as easily as it once did. Before contacting a professional, try giving the track, hinges and door a deep clean. Using an ammonia based cleaner, give all the areas of the shower door some much needed love. Something as simple as this can often times fix a less-than-perfect door. But if the problem persists, there are other factors to consider.Bathroom Shower Glass

Shower Door Hardware Replacement

As history would have it, water and metal don’t mix well together. Shower doors live in a damp climate, which subjects the metal parts of the shower door to rust. Over time, the screws, hinges, shower track and even track parts can become corroded with rust.  When this happens, it’s important to contact a professional. They can replace these parts, and if you have a warranty on the door, you may not have to pay anything at all!  A professional will know what to use, and will be able to use manufacturer-approved parts. When dealing with shower doors, don’t try to replace parts yourself. Replacing things like screws and tracks mean that the door most likely will have to be temporarily removed. This is not the time to do-it-yourself.

Broken Shower Glass – How and Why it Happens

What do you do if your shower door does shatter? If you are in the shower when it breaks, lay a towel down to avoid walking on broken glass. See if you can get assistance to clean the glass.

Once you’ve successfully navigated your way out of the danger zone and dealt with any injuries, it’s time to call a professional. The professionals will be able to replace the shower door, leaving you with little to worry about. But this will definitely get you thinking, how did my shower door break in the first place? If it was never forcefully broken, meaning you didn’t smash it on purpose, then how does a perfectly “normal” piece of glass just burst?

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Tempered Shower Glass

Most glass shower doors are put through a process called tempering, where its tensile strength is altered during a heating process. This makes the glass much stronger against direct impact, but weakens it against side impact. Meaning, if you were to drop the glass on its side, it would instantly shatter. Odds are you haven’t dropped your shower door on its side, but it may have experienced side impact from everyday use. This can cause small fractures in the glass. While one fracture may not seem like a fatal blow, over days or even hours, these seemingly small fractures can grow, causing your shower door to “spontaneously” shatter.

Shower doors do not always break because of fractures though, the door could be installed incorrectly or a simple piece of hardware could be missing, causing the door to fall off, or causing a small fracture due to misuse.

The good thing is that tempered glass is made to break safely. Because of the heat treatment process, tempered glass is considered safety glass. It’s actually the same glass used in your car and on your phone screen. When tempered glass breaks, it shatters into a ton of little pieces, rather than a few larger jagged pieces of glass. Even though you may still have a few little cuts and scrapes, it’s far better than the risk of being impaled with a large jagged piece of glass – especially in the shower.

Getting it Fixed

If you’ve tried to clean your shower door and hardware to no avail, if you notice a crack in the glass or even if the door shattered, it’s time to seek a higher power: your local glass professional. They will know how to go about replacing your door, and if you have a warranty, it may not cost you a dime! Don’t know who the closest shower door dealer is to you? That’s where can help. Showering is an important part of your daily routine; don’t let the stress of a broken shower door get in your way.

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Katie Brown

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14 Responses

  1. We installed glass door in the wash room but every time it broke after installation. Any advice where we are making mistake or there is any manufacturing defect in the glass.

  2. Our glass panel for our new shower from Victoria Plumbing has just shattered into thousand of pieces as it was being manoeuvred into place-your help and advice would be appreciated as I do not feel confident to use the other panels

    1. Yikes! We hope everyone is okay and that there were no injuries. Depending on your location, we may have a shower replacement specialist nearby who can give you a recommendation on how to proceed. Please check availability by typing in your zip code here:

  3. I was away for the winter and came home to find my shower door blown out glass all over the floor this is a guest bathroom in the three years that I have had this door it may have been used five times could this have been defective

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Thanks for reaching out to us with your question. It is possible that it could have been defective, but there are also other explanations. Tempered glass is interesting in that it’s very strong, but also somewhat sensitive. If a corner gets chipped, or the surface is pierced, or sometimes even if it isn’t mounted properly and there is uneven pressure, it can cause the glass to fail. Many times, the damage occurs unnoticed, and the failure occurs later. This makes it appear as if the breakage was “spontaneous”. It’s a phenomenon we see most often with automotive sunroofs.

      That being said, sometimes it is caused by a manufacturer defect where an inclusion is caused during the manufacturing process. The inclusion works away over time and eventually causes the glass to fail. If you can find the area of the glass where the break originated from, you can usually find clues as to the reason of the break. You stated that the glass is all over the floor, so this may not be possible. We’ve written a couple of blogs about the topic of spontaneous breakage which you can find here:
      Spontaneously Exploding Glass Tabletops
      Shattering Patio Doors
      Shattered Sunroofs

  4. Hi,
    I have a rental property.

    The shower door came off the hinges but luckily it did not break. It is a swinging door with a glass window on each side. So far all the people who have come to look at it all want to charge me for a whole new frame set up even the windows $795 and not use any of the glass that is good ? Is this the best option ? I know there is a track that runs across top of windows and door frame. Can the door frame not be removed since the hinges have been said not able to be replaced or repaired and instal a new door & frame in its existing place ?

  5. My shower door has just exploded with my son in it. It came off a few weeks ago and I thought it was because my sons girlfriend pushed it the wrong way. I got an installer to put it back on immediately. It could have been a hospital job tonight. Thankfully it’s not!

    1. Dawn, we are sorry to hear that your shower door has broken, but we’re glad that everyone is safe. It is likely that the shower door suffered a small amount of damage when it came off the track/hinges a few weeks ago. Damage to tempered glass, too small for the naked eye, can cause tempered glass to fail hours, days, weeks, or months after the damage occurred.

  6. While hanging my tempered glass panel shattered and mostly fell in the new tub. Is it necessary to deglaze or treat the tub

    1. Bob, we’re so sorry to hear of the mishap! You’ll want to thoroughly clean the tub in order to remove any broken glass. If there is damage to the tub’s finish, consider repairing that as well.

  7. If there’s a broken corner on a shower wall (just like a door but stationery), is it possible to fix it or will it shatter soon anyways?

    1. It’s typically not possible to repair chipped corners of glass. If the glass is tempered, depending on the extent of the damage, it will likely shatter at some point. If the glass is laminated, it’s not likely that this will cause complete failure.

  8. Purchased a quadrant enclosure from Victoria plumb ,accidentally broke fixed side panel,contacted them only to be told they don’t supply spares ?? Where can I obtain just the panel ? ,,, they said needed to buy a full enclosure again?

  9. Thank you, I have just been searching for information approximately this topic for a while and yours is the best I have found out so far. However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you certain concerning the supply?

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