4 minute read

January 15, 2014

Sorry for not posting a blog on Tuesday, but I was up really, really late on Monday, cleaning up a mess.

“What mess,” you ask?

Well, something without a cause, without a reason, and in lieu of scientific evidence, something I don’t know if any of us can figure out.

How could this have happened?


I am what you might call a “sound sleeper.”

I’m constantly amazed at those people who can sleep through the proverbial train going through the room, or fall asleep as a television is blaring in the other room.

My wife is one of those people.  She falls asleep, and once she’s out, she is down for the count!

I tend to wake up at the smallest provocations, and often I get confused as to what was a dream, and what was reality.

On Monday morning, around 4:00am, I thought I heard a loud “CRAAACK” followed by a “SMASH,” and I woke up and said, “What was that?!?!?!”

My wife said to me, “What was what?  It was nothing, just go back to bed.  You’re dreaming….shhhhh.”

I figured she was probably right.  I’m constantly experiencing lucid dreams, and have been for years.  Sometimes I have a dream where I’m dreaming, and asking myself, “Is this a dream?”  It’s like the movie “Inception” or something…

I started to laugh in bed, as I went back to sleep, thinking, “I dreamt I heard a crash, and I woke up thinking I heard a crash!  Man, I’m such a nut!”

And although I would prove to have not been dreaming a couple hours later, I really, really wish I hadn’t been…

My wife came and woke up around 6:00am when she gets up for work and said, “Come see the bathroom door!  You will not believe it!”

I thought she meant the door, like the door TO the bathroom.  I turned the corner in our hallway, saw into the bathroom, and said, “Oh the door like the doooooor!”

Yes, folks – THIS happened at 4:00am, without any disturbance, provocation, or reason:


Simply put, the glass just exploded.

For no real reason at all.

The door to the bathroom is always closed when we go to sleep, and this bathroom isn’t near the sliding door to the balcony, so there’s no wind, no real temperature increase/decrease – nothing that I can tell would be responsible for a pane of glass suddenly and abruptly shattering.

There was no sonic boom of noise either, but then again, I can’t say with 100% certainly that my sensitive ears would be able to notice a pitch that only a dog could hear, so maybe somebody was carrying a dolphin through the 9th floor hallway, and the creature emitted a sound that could break a pane of glass…

In case the photo didn’t do it justice, have a look at this short vid:

So when I first laid eyes on this fantastic mess, I thought what any man would think: “I really hope my wife doesn’t expect to use my shower instead, since I have another two hours to sleep…”

That thinking didn’t last.

My wife and I constantly experience what we refer to as “the Sunday blaaah’s,” whereby after an incredible weekend, we feel down on Sunday night, and reminisce about 48 hours earlier when we were overwhelmed with excitement that it was the weekend!

So imagine starting our week off on Monday with shattered glass all over the room?  Oh boy.  A sign of things to come?

We left the mess as it was, and continued about our day.

I immediately began scouring the Internet for reasons as to why this could happen.  Wikipedia’s section on “Spontaneous Glass Breakage” provided the following:

Spontaneous glass breakage is a phenomenon by which toughened glass (or tempered) may spontaneously break without any apparent reason. The most common causes are:

1) Minor damage during installation such as nicked or chipped edges later developing into larger breaks.
2) Binding of the glass in the frame, causing stresses to develop as the glass expands and contracts due to thermal changes or deflects due to wind
3) Internal defects within the glass such as nickel sulfide inclusions
4) Thermal stresses in the glass
5) Inadequate glass thickness to resist wind load

Well, it’s definitely not #5!

And they lost me at “nickel sulfide inclusions.”

Suffice it to say, I read that the “odds” of a pane of glass spontaneously shattering are about 4,000,000 to 1, which means that with hundreds of millions of panes of glass installed in a multitude of places around the world, this must happen all the time.

I’m just the first person I’ve ever met that has had a shower door explode at 4am for no reason.

All day, I dreaded the cleanup.

Not just the fact that I had to sweep up thirty pounds of broken glass, but also that only half the door had cracked and fallen to the ground, and I’d have to find a way to break the other half, without hurting myself.

The way I saw it, there was only ONE way:



So that’s what I did.  I slowly, carefully, and with a HAMMER, broke up the rest of the door, and spent three hours cleaning it up.

It was awful.

And please, please, do NOT make fun of my New Orleans Saints pajamas.  Keep in mind – I was in the privacy of my own home.  You’re lucky I was wearing any clothes at all…

The pieces of glass, mostly averaging the size of a dime, were not tough to sweep up and dump into thick contractor’s backs.  It was the microscopic fragments that took 2 1/2 hours to vacuum up.

What was left over after the large chunks of glass could be compared to icing sugar – finer than sand, finer than sugar, and basically like flour.

It was scary to think that a piece of glass could be so small you couldn’t see it, and I’m pleased to say that I only cut myself three times in the whole process! 🙂

The glass was everywhere though.  Look at the drain:


Although to be perfectly honest, once I had opened the drain up, the glass wasn’t nearly as bad as the hair

And then there were remnants like this, which an optimist might say could help shave your legs:


The hinges are in bags now (although the glass in the photo above will NOT come out), and the shower door is a distant memory.

Now I get to wade my way through the process of finding a company to replace the door, or, just accept that water will gently flow onto the bathroom floor for the rest of time.  Hey – it works in Japan, right?

All in all, it wasn’t a fun process, but it gave me a story to tell!

If this has happened to any of you, I’d sure like to hear it…

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. A Grant

    at 7:17 am

    Isn’t your wife the “sound sleeper”? I think you mean “light sleeper” – like you, I get woken up at the slightest provocation as well…

    1. A Grant

      at 7:19 am

      In any case, that sucks about the bathroom door. Terrible way to start a Monday

      1. ScottyP

        at 12:38 pm

        I was going to say the same thing; a “sound sleeper” is someone who sleeps soundly.

        Maybe David meant that he wakes up from the slightest sound, making him a “sound” sleeper?

        Anyway, as you said… crappy Monday.

  2. moonbeam!

    at 8:27 am

    Mom says: Rubber gloves!

  3. Joe Q.

    at 9:37 am

    David writes: … this bathroom isn’t near the sliding door to the balcony, so there’s no wind, no real temperature increase/decrease …

    But there is a temperature increase / decrease — unless you only take cold showers. This glass is likely being warmed up to about 35-40C on one side every time you take a shower, then cools down to 20-22C afterward. The thermal expansion is small overall (maybe 0.01-0.05% at the temperatures we’re talking about) but the glass is bolted into place, and so improper installation combined with defects in manufacture can easily lead to the mess you unfortunately had to deal with.

    As for the huge number of tiny pieces — this is actually a “feature” of this type of glass. The thinking is that it is better to dissipate the energy of a fracture event through the formation of a lot of cracks or breakage points, rather than having it all go into two or three big pieces that then go flying into someone (kinetic energy).

  4. Floom

    at 9:43 am

    David – spontaneous glass explosion is more often caused by poltergeists, banshees or your standard “ghost.” Were there any murder/suicides in your condo before you purchased it? Is there an old Indian burial ground beneith the lot, that sort of thing? Don’t rule out meddling kids of the former owner trying to scare you into selling it back to them.

    1. David Fleming

      at 12:59 pm

      @ Floom

      Hahahaha no, I don’t think there were any murders, but the previous owner KILLED the ambiance and allure of the condo by leaving all the standard builder paint colors, light fixtures, and finishes…

  5. Jeremy

    at 11:01 am

    Something similar happened to me David. About 10 years ago, I was enjoying a late dinner in a friends backyard on a lovely summer night. Without provocation, the glass exploded, and our laps were showered with our dinner, drinks and little pieces of broken glass and a fine glass powder. It was fairly loud as I recall, and obviously very startling. Luckily my buddy’s girlfriend (now wife) was there to witness it, because even she admitted that she wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t seen it with her own eyes.

  6. Adam

    at 12:35 pm

    Had the same thing happen to me but it was the rear winsheild of my car. I was sitting in a parking lot and the thing literally exploded, and it was absolutely terrifying! For a split second I honestly though it had been shot at by a gun!

    After a little research I learned that it was most likely due to leaving the rear defroster on in summer.

  7. JJ

    at 12:57 pm

    Great video.

    Did you get your tickets yet?


  8. JoeE

    at 11:34 pm

    hmmm…what it looks that the wall that the door is mounted to flexed. The mounting bracket for the glass door (two of them) are affixed to the wall, the wall expands/contracts…you are getting torsional stress from two fixed points.

    Bet the mounting bracket is direct into green sheetrock and not a stud.

  9. JC

    at 5:52 pm

    I think this happens more often than people realize. I know of two people who’ve had the same thing happen to them. Just out of the blue.

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