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Valley woman says tempered glass sink 'blew up' without warning

Posted at 5:22 PM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-14 19:22:11-05

PEORIA, Ariz. (KNXV) - A couple of days after Thanksgiving, Karen Liguori and her husband, Joseph, were in bed asleep when they say they heard what sounded like an explosion.

"It was something we never heard before," she said. 
 
At first, they thought someone had shattered a window to break into their home. When they got up to check it out, the glass underneath their feet let them know they were wrong.
 
"We just saw this chaotic scene where the tempered glass--the vessel sink--had exploded," she said. 
 
The sink in her guest bathroom was completely shattered.
 
Karen said the blast was so powerful it knocked over items on the vanity and shot glass into other rooms of her house.
 
"All we could think about was we just had Thanksgiving dinner here, we had our friends and family over there are young children," she said. "They would have been at eye level when this thing exploded."
 
When Karen bought the home nearly two years ago, she said the sink had already been installed. Now with the sink in pieces, she said they didn't know the age or manufacturer. But after some research, she found others around the country have reported a similar experience.
 
"It's a defect supposedly, in the manufacturing," she said. 
 
We also found nearly two dozen similar complaints about tempered glass sinks in the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)database.
 
But, we wondered how a sink could just blow up? So we went to the experts at Mo-Sci Corporation in Missouri.
 
We spoke with CEO Ted Day and founder Dr. Delbert Day, an engineering expert in the uses and properties of glass in technology.
 
They said tempered glass failure is rare, but possible, under the right conditions.
 
"Tempered glass basically is strengthened by cooling it on the outside to put the glass in compression," Day said. 
 
Because of that compression, the glass is constantly under pressure and stores energy. The Day's say most tempered glass is manufactured to withstand that pressure.  But sometimes, it doesn't.
 
"Over time it may become damaged and this damage could be very slight you wouldn't be able to see it with your naked eye," Dr. Day said. 
 
They say it could be an internal defect, or scratch, or damage from something falling in the sink.
 
"At some point, the stress will get so high that a crack starts to form and once it forms it's just like that rubber band snapping. That glass just blows apart," Dr. Day said. 
 
They say it doesn't happen often.
 
"You've got maybe dozens of incidents out of millions of glass wear or glass bowls being sold," Day said. 
 
The Day's say porcelain and stone sinks don't experience failure, and using a Borosilicate glass could offer more protection for consumers.
 
While there is no way to tell whether a tempered glass sink will fail, other recommendations include treating the glass gently, having a professional carefully install it and not using abrasive cleaners to prevent chips and even small scratches.
 
But Liguori said once is enough for her. She replaced her glass sink with a travertine bowl.
 
"Either replace them or at least be aware that this can happen," she said.