Glass has been used in one form or another since 2000 B.C., however, glass safety has been addressed in the building codes only since the early 1960’s when safety glazing was first mentioned. Safety glazing should be familiar to you as the type of glass that fractures into small cubes that are less likely to cause significant injury than the shards produced from the breakage of standard glass. Home inspectors are increasingly noting the absence of tempered safety glass in their reports. For that reason it pays to get familiar with the subject.
The intent of the building codes is to require safety glass in areas “subject to human impact”. Recent editions of the building codes list such “hazardous locations” requiring safety glass. A few of the most common required areas are as follows:
1. Any glass used in skylights.
2. Glazing in ingress and egress doors (except jalousies).
3. Glazing in sliding door assemblies and glass in swinging doors, including storm doors.
4. Glazing in doors and enclosures for tubs and showers.
5. Glazing in a bathroom that is less than 60″ above the standing surface.
6. Glazing in a fixed or openable panel within 24″ of a closed door if less than 60″ above the standing surface.
7. Windows must be safety glass if all of the following apply: greater than 9 square feet in size, bottom is less than 18″ above the ground, top is greater than 36″ from the ground, within 36″ of a walking surface. The only exception to this rule is if a 1 ½” guard bar is installed horizontally at approximately 36″ from the ground.
Safety glass can most often be identified by a label that is required to be etched or sandblasted in one of the corners of the pane. Sometimes it is difficult to determine if a particular piece of glazing is actually safety glass.
Over the years the building codes made numerous changes to the required locations for safety glass so an older home many not meet the current code requirements. But we are talking safety, so don’t be surprised if a home inspection report notes the absence of safety glass. Many injuries and deaths have resulted from glass cuts that caused the victim to bleed to death before medical help could arrive. The glass will not stop to read the building code before it cuts someone. Obvious and ridiculous, but true.
Advantage Inspection Service provides Arizona home inspection services for homes throughout the Phoenix area.