Dealing with Damaged Glass Caused by Summer Storm

Brisbane, being in a sub-tropical area, experiences large hail storms causing damaged glass. Gerry advises to call a glazier to fix damaged windows or glass, especially if the shards are large. Glaziers have the experience and they know the safety procedures in taking out damaged glass. 

Wayne Bucklar:   Today my guest is Gerry Whelan from Archer Glass in Brisbane. Gerry welcome to the program and it’s storm season.

Gerry Whelan:   That’s right, thank you Wayne.

W:   What’s your advice for people this time of the year in regards to storm season?

G:   Well I suppose the main thing you can do around your home is make sure things that can be picked up by strong wind and blown against windows and other things that are breakable are put away. Maybe put in the shed, put around the back in the shelter outside, something like that so that at least you haven’t got that immediate risk. In terms of branches of trees, there isn’t a lot that can happen that you can do until on the day, and the main thing really is to move stuff that you’re in control of and maybe if you see the forecast is for a strong storm warning, then you can hook up wooden blinds or for the cracks on, you could close those over and the inside at least so that if something does come through, it might save it or maybe injuring somebody or doing more internal damage through the furniture and stuff like that.

W:   And so Gerry, the damaged glass that you save from storms doesn’t come from just wind pressure against the glass. It’s normally from objects hitting the glass, is it?

G:   Correct, yeah. It’s almost all those objects being blown against them and then sometimes large hail if it’s wind driven as well. Even the hail if it’s coming straight down, doesn’t usually really hit the windows.

W:   Ah, I see. So cleaning up and tidying up those loose objects is the key message. Going back awhile, it used to be that everyone was putting tape on their windows for storms, does that do any good or is it just a myth?

G:   It’s just a bit of a myth really because the glass will still smash if the large hail hits it.

W:   Ah, I see.

G:   And the tape actually just makes it more dangerous because when you go to try to take it out or clean it up because some of it it’s taped together, then it becomes more difficult to take it apart and get rid of it piece by piece.

W:   Now if you do take a piece of glass broken in a storm, should you try and take it out and clean it up? Or do you just call a glazier? What’s the process?

G:   The best thing is to let the glazier remove the broken glass because they’ll have the risk protection, and gloves, and eye protection etc. that’s required to handle it. And also is used to handling broken glass or sheath of course and the average householder wouldn’t have handled much broken window glass or the chances of injury are much stronger. So it’s probably best left, call your glazier and just let him deal with the whole situation. Maybe if you had a board or something like that that you want to just put against it or put some furniture or other items around that’s in the way to keep children away, something like that. But trying to deal with a broken glass, it’s probably best to avoid it.

W:   And I guess if you’ve got a piece of broken glass, some of it’s going to be safety glass that’s going to be shattered, some of will be laminated glass it breaks in a different way. But some of it may well be old installed glass that can be quite dangerous with shards of glass.

G:   Yeah, anything that’s not safety glass, that’s normal vinyl glass will break in large shards. Which a standard window glass today is still not toughened safety glass, it’s just 4 millimeter of vinyl glass and it just breaks in large shards. Shower screens indoors tend to have grade A safety glass and areas like that so that would be less of a problem because when the laminated breaks, it holds together like your front car windscreen. If the wind breaks things like your side car windscreen, it shatters in tiny pieces but they’re less dangerous than those large shards that you get with non-safety glass.

W:   And I guess if there is a big storm that comes through town, glaziers get busy. Do you need to talk to the insurance company first or should your first call be meeting your glazier?

G:   Yeah, you could call your glazier first as a householder, you have the right to choose your own glazier, which anyone you like. It might be that you need to request a quote from them first and then contact your insurance for that. Because normally after a storm you could have a 2-3 hours wait to speak to your insurance because you’re just on hold for that long, whereas in the meantime by calling the glazier you could actually have something already done. And then you can pay the glazier and with your receipt or invoice, then put your claim in and just get reimbursed by insurance company. The phone call to the insurance company at the earliest convenience is a good idea too so that you can get cleared to do that.

W:   Gerry being in the semi tropics as you are, sometimes there are large hail storms and a lot of damage. Hail has to be wind driven before it does much damage I gather?

G:   Yeah, that’s right. If it’s coming in diagonally with the wind then it’s heading straight on the surface of the window glass and it doesn’t have to be all that big to make its way through with the force of the wind as well. But with coming down straight of course unless it bounces on the concrete outside and then hits the window, the chances of breaking glass are pretty slim.

W:   Now I guess sometimes the hail damage doesn’t bust the whole window out. It just puts a little crack in the glass. Is it still worth getting a glazier out to have a look at that minor damage to glass panels?

G:   Yes, you’d still need to get it replaced because the chances are at the next strong wind just by itself or a door slamming means that the cracks from that little fracture will just travel and then a piece might fall out and injure somebody so it’s best to still just get it replaced.

W:   Even minor damage can turn into major damage then?

G:   Yeah, because it won’t just sit there. It’s like the crack in the glass, it’s fractured now so just some vibration is enough to make that spread and then maybe fall out.

W:   Gerry Whelan from Archer Glass, it’s been a pleasure having you with us today. Thank you for your time.

G:   Thank you very much Wayne, always a pleasure.