Sadly an inevitable consequence that what comes with the growing demand for glazed products is the negative impact on the quality of glass. Toughened glass, once the preferred and recommended choice for skylights, is now to be avoided on inner panes which is entirely down to quality.
Without detailing every element that goes into the making of glass, there are a mix of products that, when heated to around 1700 degrees Celsius, turn liquid to produce the very stuff we know and love. Sadly, within those ingredients there have become more and more impurities which can create future issues.
There is a further process which Sunsquare pioneered in the rooflight industry, called heat soaking, which can detect the vast majority of these imperfections and avoid them becoming a part of someone’s skylight. These imperfections are not visible to the naked eye or even in factory conditions. They are only something that can be seen under the watchful bionic eye of a very clever camera.
Sunsquare turned to heat soaking when they began to see the decline in quality of glass over 8 years ago. We were the first in our industry to do so, and, as a result, have avoided the issues many companies now face with their continued supply of toughened glass.
The imperfection is called a Nickel Sulphide inclusion, which, given the right circumstances, will expand to 1000 times its size in a fraction of a second creating enough pressure to shatter a pane of glass. What has happened for many years is that a skylight can very suddenly and randomly seemingly explode, leaving a large pile of glass below it.
Fortunately, the benefits of toughened glass means it is designed to shatter into small pieces to avoid serious injury.
Heat soaking glass will reduce the odds of this happening to a fraction of the chances of it happening to a non-heat-soaked pane, but there is still a risk. This is why Sunsquare were the first in the industry to offer laminated inner panes as standard some years ago.
For us, it was a simple solution to a potentially large problem, and as a result, many years later, a number of companies in our industry are rapidly changing both their warranties and glass specification. With some seemingly taking the ‘not bothered’ approach about the clients below the skylights.
The advantage of having a laminated inner pane is that in any eventuality, if the glass was to shatter, it would stay exactly where it is until a replacement is found. It is extremely robust and in over 5 years, we have not encountered a single shattered pane, removing the problem entirely.
It stands to reason that those companies buying cheap toughened glass from China simply are not heeding the warnings offered by the responsible companies and should be avoided for that very reason alone.
The cost difference is not enough to warrant the risk to life and property. Any company still selling skylights with toughened inner panes should be avoided, whatever the cost.
We believe in being honest with our clients as much as possible, why? Because we care. If you want to speak to one of the team about your next project, then get in touch today! 01284 723377