Shattered Glass: Be careful cleaning glass panels along stairs!

When I showed up to clean a customer’s windows, they requested I also clean a glass panel to their staircase similar to the one in this picture. They called back the next day to inform me the panel had fallen out of the clamps which secured it after I had left, and it shattered. They asked if I used any unnecessary pressure or a new technique for cleaning it that could have caused it to fall, and I informed them I had just used a traditional mop and squeegee method, with no extra scrubbing or pressure.

Apparently the clamps on the top and bottom of the panel that secure the glass in place did not have a bolt going through the pane, just a rubber gasket which held the pane in place by friction. As the bottom of the pane is angled, and the clamps are at different heights, there is both downward and lateral force on the clamps at all times. My guess is the soapy water coming into contact with the rubber gasket reduced the friction, and allowed the pane to slip sideways through the clamps. I just wanted to share my experience with you all in case you are asked to clean something similar. This design of securing panels this size and weight with compression clamps alone is very dangerous, as mere contact with a liquid can cause the whole panel to fall, so I would be very careful agreeing to clean something like this in the future.


Changes in weather conditions ie going from pretty hot to pretty cold can cause the rubber gaskets to let go a little so you may have been unlucky enough to just helped it on its way if it indeed happened as they said, having been using those fittings all my career cleaning alone wouldn’t cause it to fall or slip out, I bet they were pretty loose to begin with


@ApexWindowCleaning Thanks for sharing. I will never clean something like that if I see it.


I doubt simply cleaning it caused the clamps to fail. If that were the case then the method of securing such a large and heavy piece of glass is very fragile and a sonic boom from a jet or a loud clap of thunder would do the same thing.

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Agreed. In fact, I would refer to the manufacturers warranty and cleaning instructions. I have done this type of stairway glass many times without incident. However, I will say, that I would always use very minimal water just because of the lack of edges and irregularities.

If the clamps were not tight enough, and let water in, who’s fault is that? I would blame the installer, or the manufacturer.

How do they expect anyone to clean the glass without any liquid?

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If it is a “dangerous” design and prone to failure, why wouldn’t they use tempered glass instead? Could you imagine a person falling down the stairs or trying to catch themselves by bracing on this fragile glass?

I really don’t think it is your fault. If a little water can break this, then it would break for a million other reasons.

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I agree. So far the customer hasn’t made any indication that they will come after us for repair/replace cost, so maybe they can see this. I feel like we could make a pretty strong case for not being liable.


Dan, it will have been tempered glass, the glass has slid out of the clamps and then smashed once it hit what ever the floor surface was, it’s not fragile glass that broke when water hit it, customer wrongly thinks that the water has made the glass slip out of the clamps and smash on the floor.customer is both right and wrong, there’s no way water alone would cause glass to come loose and fall out but if the clamps were loose(this happens quite a lot) then the water would have gotten between the rubber gasket and the glass and it could have sped up the process of the glass slipping out

I’m sorry , but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in a house. Break the other one An be done with it. Put rails there WTH … I’ve been in a million houses never seeen this before . “ what in the hell “. :thinking::no_mouth::upside_down_face:
I guess we’ll go back the the old saying “ To each is own “.

Ya I’m with @windowsrx I would never clean it. I would of said call the idiot who installed this to clean it. Lol … why😩

Did you Use a different technique , then last time …lol . No did one of your drunk friends accidentally slip. No … ok then It’s only a matter of time. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

I have to also say “ Some people will do anything to make money “. I’m sure he had them Sign a waiver saying there not responable , but jeez have a sense of common decency!

Bottom line - if a window or plate of glass falls out of its frame or setting, it isn’t because it was being cleaned, it is because installation was done half ass.


True … That being said have you ever seen something like this in Fla ?
I’m very curious why someone who does stuff like this for a living would be willing to do it on a stairwell like this !

Also wondering what the liability is ?

Yes, but not on an angle like that. I have cleaned 6’ x 4’ glass panels on a walkway above a customers foyer and on anothers balcony. But huge like that I haven’t seen.

Balcony glass to me is different . This right here is just plain nuts.
One I don’t get the look . Two I don’t understand how that’s supported.
Case in point … it fell :tired_face:

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The clamps also come with pins that go through it, most glaziers don’t use the pins as it allows no room for error, if you leave the pins out then you can move the glass around better to level it up against other pieces, with holes in the glass and pins you get very little room to move, I’ve seen one idiot use these clamps for a glass balustrade on a second story landing, the clamps put the glass on the outside edge of the landing meaning if the clamps let go the glass would fall to the first floor, I told the customer no way in hell I was working anywhere near that, I was called in to tighten the clamps as the glass was coming loose and slipping

Yep, and you wouldn’t want anyone leaning against this one!

These clamps are perfectly safe when the glass can’t fall anywhere but when there is sideways force they are down right dangerous , if anyone wants to skip cleaning these kinds of set ups bear in mind only bring it up when they are mounted like the first pics

I would think at some point someone walking up or down the stairs would place their hand on the glass. And they could apply enough pressure to break a clamp and make the glass fall. You know those pieces of glass have to be very heavy. Still blows my mind why someone would think it is a good idea to install something like that.
@ApexWindowCleaning I hope you are not liable. I am sure you didn’t apply crazy amounts of pressure cleaning them. Who knows they might have been barely hanging on in place before you cleaned them.

Hes not liable. Nobody in thier right mind could honestly think that you did that by cleaning the glass. Definitely not a judge and jury.