Flaws discovered in exploding glass balconies
Liam Casey – Toronto Star
Microscopic imperfections buried within the pane are behind the spate of exploding glass balconies on downtown condo towers, an engineer says.
Mark Brook is a partner at BVDA Façade Engineering which is analyzing glass from the north tower of the Murano building, where at least nine panes have exploded since last September.
Brook recently discovered nickel sulfide crystals in two shattered panes. These crystals grow over time, which stresses the glass. If the imperfection is in the right place, the pressure builds until the pane explodes.
“It’s either bullets or inclusions,” Brook said. “And there’s no evidence someone’s shooting at the balconies.”
To get a definitive answer, Brook needed at least one of two specific bits of glass where the explosion originated — the portion containing the nickel sulfide crystal. That’s nearly impossible when a pane explodes into hundreds of pieces strewn across a busy street.
But the engineering firm was lucky. It had been testing intact panels from the north tower of the Murano building as the developer took them down. One night, a pane resting against a wall in the testing facility exploded. They found their specific glass bit.
“It’s not poor installation,” Brook said. “It’s not wind, it’s not the weather, it’s these imperfections.”
Brook first suspected the faulty glass was from a bad batch. It was actually several contaminated batches from manufacturing facilities in the United States that ended up in Toronto.
“Exploding glass isn’t that abnormal,” Brook said. “It’s just been making the news because it’s been exploding onto busy streets like Bay St.”
Brook’s firm has been contracted by Lanterra Developments to examine the glass on three of its condos where balcony railings have shattered: the two Murano towers as well as One Bedford Rd. The developer has said it will replace the tempered panes with the safer laminated variety — an inner layer of tempered glass and an outer layer of heat-strengthened glass sandwiching a sheet of plastic — on these and all future projects.
Glass has also shattered on three Toronto buildings built by other developers.
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Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
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