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2 Investigators: Glass Shower Doors Can Shatter Without Warning

CHICAGO (CBS) – If your shower door is made of glass, you may endure injuries, a big clean up and thousands of dollars down the drain.

CBS 2's Dave Savini first exposed tempered-glass patio tables suddenly exploding. Now he found the same happening with shower doors.

Dorothy Malinski's shower door suddenly exploded while her mother was bathing.

"I heard this big bang, this big boom," said Malinski.  "I couldn't enter all the way because there's glass all over the counter, in the sink, on the floor."

Her mother was cut on her hands and face.

Even though tempered-glass shower doors are supposed to break into small pieces -- to prevent injuries from larger, sharper pieces of glass -- they can break in bigger shards.

That is what happened to Larry Kucharik, who was injured while cleaning up the shattered glass from his shower door.

"I just tapped the top of it and a chunk of it came down and hit my ankle," said Kucharik, whose ankle is still scarred. "It started bleeding, and there was a lot of blood all over the floor."

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports more than 60 complaints of shower doors shattering for no reason -- just suddenly exploding, causing lacerations and bleeding. People reported needing stitches and even surgery.

Mark Meshulam, a glass and window consultant, reviewed the reports.

"These are the types of injuries and situations that I would expect to see when something goes wrong with shower doors," he says.

He says a microscopic imperfection during the manufacturing process can grow and migrate, weakening the glass until it suddenly shatters. It can even shatter without it being touched.

"I would say treat the doors gingerly," Meshulam warns. "Do not bang them. Don't allow children to hang on the towel bars."

He also says look for chips near brackets, the towel bar and along the edges. Also, make sure the door only moves the way it is supposed to and is not loose on the track or hinges.

In Larry Kucharik's case, the manufacturer replaced his shower door at no cost.

This has also been a problem at hotels. Meshulam says one reportedly had 50 doors shatter. He would like to see protective film on shower doors to catch breaking glass.

This is a tempered glass problem, so it involves various door manufacturers and the ages of glass. If this happens to you, call the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the door manufacturer.

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