My single pane windows have 1/16" thick glass, so of course I accidentally broke one!
April 9, 2010 7:43 PM   Subscribe

I accidentally broke a single glass window pane in my apartment. I couldn't believe how easily it broke, but now I see that it's 1/16th of an inch thick! No wonder! Landlord wants me to pay for the repair, I want ALL my windows replaced with 1/8" panes for free!

I live on the 2nd floor of an apartment. I have a busy Los Angeles intersection RIGHT outside my window. It's always loud, even with all the windows closed. From everything I've read online, 1/8" thick is standard. I think this building has the original glass from when it was built in the 20s or something. I don't think I should have to pay for the repair. I haven't approached my landlord about this yet. Advice?
posted by wannaknow to Home & Garden (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A good compromise if you can't get what you want is: Okay, I will pay for this window but since the rest are all very thin, I will not pay for any more if they happen to break. Get it in writing. Then give some kids some stones. :)
posted by thorny at 7:46 PM on April 9, 2010

If the building is that old, and especially if it is surrounded by other similarly-old buildings, the landlord may not be able to replace the glass due to restrictions imposed by the city or a historical district. Many historical buildings have restrictions on what can be done that's visible from the outside. Should the building you live in be classified as a historical building, that removes a lot of the ability to modify the exterior.

In addition, you did break the glass, and, as a renter, you are expected to pay for anything beyond reasonable wear and tear.
posted by fireoyster at 7:48 PM on April 9, 2010 [6 favorites]

Check your lease. Then check with your local tenants org. They might be able to tell you if your landlord is required to provide a certain quality/thickness of glass in your area. If they aren't required to provide 1/8," and your lease makes you responsible for any damage that you cause, then you're probably SOL on both not having to pay for the window and getting the others replaced. There is a requirement that leased properties meet certain standards, but if your glass is perfectly legal under codes and all that, you signed a lease for an apartment with 1/16" windows, and that's what you get. If you wanted better windows, you would have needed to ask about them before you signed the lease for the apartment, and found a place with thicker glass instead. IANAL blah blah blah
posted by ishotjr at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2010

I think you're being unreasonable. You broke the glass and should pay for the repair. And you have no right to demand that he replace all of the windows.
posted by amro at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2010 [14 favorites]

And what ishotjr said better than me.
posted by amro at 7:56 PM on April 9, 2010

if you can find evidence that hes breaking code with 1/16th inch glass, you can use it as a light form of blackmail to make him replace all the windows. but dont expect him to be friendly towards you at all after that.
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 8:07 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

1/16th? You are not exaggerating, right? That seems pretty thin.
posted by ovvl at 9:07 PM on April 9, 2010

what ishotjr said. You have no right to expect this of your landlord.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:14 PM on April 9, 2010

slight derail: glass "melts." could it be so thin because you are looking at the TOP portion of an old pane?
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:16 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Back in my younger days, hypothetically speaking of course, on a Saturday night after a pga punch party, lets just say that punching out windows seems like a good idea right then sometimes I hear. Panes break easily and can be replaced just as easily. Cost for a small pane could be as low as $15-20. Measure, go to a glass store have them cut one and replace it yourself with a little instruction from glass guy and some putty. My friend replaced at lease 10 over a 4 year period with ease.

As for replacing all the windows, I would get an agreement that he replaces as they break with code glass.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:31 PM on April 9, 2010

Derailing derail: the thing about glass panes "melting" or "flowing" or what-have-you is a total myth and irrelevant to your dispute, carry on.
posted by mayhap at 9:42 PM on April 9, 2010 [12 favorites]

slight derail: glass "melts." could it be so thin because you are looking at the TOP portion of an old pane?

This is a persistent urban legend. Glass does not flow, not even super-slow, and the difference in thickness has to do with how it used to be made.

With regard to your question, definitely pay for the broken pane, check the tenants' organization, and think about moving out soon. There are plenty of apartments out there that are crappy, but in an entirely legal way.
posted by explosion at 9:43 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

1. You broke the window. You'll have to pay for it. That's life. Sorry.

2. Getting all of the windows switched out to 1/8" will NOT make a difference if you live on a busy intersection. I lived on a busy Los Angeles street for four years (MTA buses, fire engines w/engine breaks, cop cars with sirens blazing, and extra loud choppers driving by at all hours of the day & night) and we had regular thickness windows. It was loud all fricking the time. An extra 1/16" of glass is far from the requisite sound-proofing you will need for a nice, peaceful existence.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:12 PM on April 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

*brakes*, even.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:12 PM on April 9, 2010

1/16 --> 1/8 might not make a difference, but double-panned definitely does.

But then, so does being 90' perpendicular and 20 feet away from the main street definitely does.
posted by porpoise at 10:43 PM on April 9, 2010

Ignore almost everything else in this thread, first of all. Nobody here seems to want to try to find out the answer to your question; they note that your tone is more than a little annoying (a point I'll grant them) and assume that this means you're wrong. Such is the power of the ad hominem line of reasoning.

First of all, stay calm, as your landlord isn't in clear violation of any major laws or codes with regard to being a landlord. She or he is required by the California Civil Code, section 1941.1, to provide a living space that is habitable and tenantable, and by the terms of that document and the description you've given us he's done that. Thick windows are not part of this equation.

However, by my reading, specifically sections 6713 and 6714 on page 623, your landlord is in clear violation of the Building Code of the City of Los Angeles. [See volume 2 here: 1, 2.] That is: that sure doesn't sound anything like tempered glass if your description is at all accurate. To wit:
All windows, skylights, glazing in doors or other glazing in security openings shall conform to this section and to the applicable requirements in sections 6714, 6715 and 6716.

Glazed openings within 40 inches (1016 mm) of the required locking device of the door, when the door is in the closed and locked position and when the door is openable from the inside without the use of a key, shall be fully tempered glass, conforming to the provisions of Section 2406, or approved burglary-resistant material, or shall be protected by metal bars, screens or grilles having a pattern such that the maximum dimension of any opening does not exceed 2 inches (51 mm).

... In Group B, F, M, S occupancies, panes of glazing with at least one dimension greater than six inches, but less than 48 inches (1219 mm), shall be constructed of fully tempered glass or approved burglary-resistant material or shall be protected by metal bars or grilles which are contructed to preclude human entry.
As I've said, if your windows are really 1/16 of an inch thick, they're not the way they should be.

That said, your approach leaves some to be desired, as it's hardly sociable. Your landlord surely isn't happy that you've broken the glass, and if she or he has to replace your windows s/he'll have to replace all the windows in the building. It's really quite cheap to install a new pane of glass, particularly if it isn't tempered, so what I'd do is get that fixed as cheaply as you can. Seriously, suck it up and do it - it's not much money, and it'd be a nice gesture to your landlord and will make her or him more likely to want to go in for the real upgrade: better windows.

Once you've replaced the window, I would gently point out that the windows really aren't up to code, and should really be replaced. Don't threaten; you catch more flies with honey, and all that. This is a relationship you have to live with, after all.
posted by koeselitz at 10:53 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I'd meant to say:

Get a ruler and measure the thickness of the glass. 1/16 of an inch is a surprisingly relative measure; it's harder to eyeball than most people think. Then, bring the glass to a hardware store and ask if they can tell you if it's tempered. If you're describing it accurately, I doubt it is, but it's worth it to be sure before even mentioning to your landlord that you think he's not up to code.
posted by koeselitz at 11:01 PM on April 9, 2010

As I've said, if your windows are really 1/16 of an inch thick, they're not the way they should be.

For what it is worth, I live in Los Angeles and have replaced every window in my house with building permits, to code. If it is an old building and the windows have not been replaced, or were replaced before the building code you quote was established, the code does not apply. However, every window replaced since the code was established must conform to the code.

This is why Los Angeles is full of perfectly legal thin plate glass windows, but you'll never find anyone who will replace a broken one with the same thing.

Further, the code you quote involves glass in a specific position relative to doors and whatnot. This doesn't apply to all glass, and we don't know if the poster's glass falls into the area the code is concerned with. When we had our glass replaced, the panes in certain positions adjacent to the doors, and the glass in the doors themselves, had to be tempered -- but the rest did not.

Ultimately, the renter in this situation should pay for the glass replacement, and be more careful in the future. Demanding a complete replacement of all the windows is ridiculous, unless there is a specific safety concern (such as a large floor-to-ceiling plate glass window in an area where kids play and run around, or plate glass in a door.) Of course, the poster can always ask, but the landlord can always say no, and likely will.
posted by davejay at 11:30 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

koeselitz, while the sections you quote are probably relevant, I think it is foolish to call it 'clear violation' when for all you know there are metal grilles over every piece of glass, or none of them are in the position specified/of the size specified.
posted by jacalata at 11:47 PM on April 9, 2010

With very few exceptions (usually in the areas of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers) building code now doesn't matter; what the code was when it was built (in 1920 probably not specified) or last replaced/modified (you think they are original) rules. IE: pursuing a code violation would be a waste of time. And a window that has lasted for almost a century is pretty unlikely to suddenly exhibit a manufacturing defect.

So, IMO, pay to get the window replaced. If you've been a long term tenant (like 10 + years) your landlord might be willing to make major improvements (probably with a rent increase when done) and it couldn't hurt to ask but realize he would be doing you a favour anywhere such improvements are not required by law.
posted by Mitheral at 12:02 AM on April 10, 2010

bring the glass to a hardware store and ask if they can tell you if it's tempered

Tempered glass is pretty easy to identify once it has been broken, it shatters into tiny crystals.
posted by onya at 1:36 AM on April 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Landlord wants me to pay for the repair,...
...I haven't approached my landlord about this yet....

wait, what? does he know about it or not? either way it's kind of a grey breaks, so some (nicer) landlords may consider it normal wear and tear...if he owns a bunch of properties, he probably knows someone cheap, and may just pay for it and write it off. also, windows are cheap. if you end up paying for it, it's probably gonna be less than $100, including labor.

but, if it were me, living in a noisy apartment downtown, at a time when vacancies in L.A. are at an all-time high, and the landlord was going to be that petty, i'd say 'y'know what, i'm just gonna let my security deposit cover the last month's rent. BYE!' srsly...downtown. sucks. ass. it's like detroit threw up. (FWIW, i live 5 mins away, in a nice house, on a tree-lined street, with a big front yard, and an art studio off the back patio...and pay WELL under $1000/mo) this market, take no shit. ;)
posted by sexyrobot at 2:16 AM on April 10, 2010

dur, sorry...thought you said downtown...but if it's too noisy...just move. now is the time.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:20 AM on April 10, 2010

I don't know how big the place is or what kind of project it would be, but I would just ask the landlord if you can have the glass replaced. If you pay rent on time, keep the place nice and clean, depending on what kind of funds your property owner has, it might be worth doing. I’ve always felt that if you can keep your renters happy, they'll take care of the place.
posted by iscavenger at 5:57 AM on April 10, 2010

Knowing nothing about the law, and looking at it from my own current ethical point of view.... two things stand out here.

1) You broke a window that belongs to someone else. You take responsibility for what happened and discuss with them how they want to fix the issue. Accidents happen. If someone broke something you owned - you would probably expect the same from them - the first step is them acknowledging responsibility for breaking it, and then asking how they want to go about repairing things.
2) You want all "your" windows replaced for free. They aren't your windows - they are the landlord's windows. It's your home, but it's his house, so to speak.

3) Having been on the landlord side of things briefly - the last thing you want to do is start any conversation by demanding or threatening legal action. The landlord has a money making asset that you live in - and are partly, after a fashion, a caretaker of. If you approach him from a cooperative, informative, helpful point of view rather than confrontational, you'll get much farther. (I was always willing to fix things and/or split costs, as long as tennants made reasonable proposals that were in our mutual best interest. The second they demand and threaten something or mention a lawyer - their next conversation, and all further conversations, would be with my attorney.)
posted by TravellingDen at 11:37 AM on April 10, 2010

How did it break? If you were going something like playing catch inside, and it broke, just fix it. If it broke while you were washing it, ask the landlord to repair it because you were doing something ordinary. That window specification may apply to new buildings or replacement glass. Be reasonable. Tell the landlord the glass is really thin, and breaks too easily, and you feel that the cost of repairs should be up to the landlord, as long as you were doing something reasonable.

If you like the place, and want to stay, explain that the noise is a huge issue, and would the landlord consider replacement windows with double panes. There may be a tax incentive, and it would save big on a/c costs. If the landlord is paying the electric for the a/c, it might be a compelling argument.
posted by theora55 at 11:40 AM on April 10, 2010

Single strength glass is typically 3/32" thick. Double strength glass is typically 1/8" thick. Large sash sizes (greater than 36" inches in either dimension) are often required to use double strength glass. In the most general terms, tempered or safety glass is only required in residential construction when the glass is located less than 18" from a floor or door.

I strongly suspect your broken window is actually 1/32" thicker than 1/16", viz., 3/32".
posted by xod at 12:11 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I promise ALL OF YOU that I took out an actual ruler and measured the glass. that's my point! 1/16" thick. even most of you think that I must be exaggerating because that's so thin. I MEASURED WITH A RULER!!!!

And yes, I told my landlord what happened (I broke it with my elbow while I was cleaning, and I'm a 112 lb female). I was really nice about it, he was nice about it but said "yeah, the owners of the building will charge you for that. I'll get back to you with the exact amount" so I haven't said anything else since then.
posted by wannaknow at 1:23 PM on April 10, 2010

I broke a window once. It was an accident, I wasn't drunk, I tripped and fell and I'm lucky that I didn't put my hand through it.

Do you know what I did?


Getting windows replaced is an enormous PITA. I have lived in THREE places that replaced all of the windows while I lived there and I hated it. It did help with heat retention but it did eff all about noise. If you dislike the noise in your neighborhood, move. But pay for the goddamned window first.
posted by micawber at 8:17 PM on April 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

It actually makes a lot of sense that they'll charge you for it. Now that it's broken, they're going to want to replace it with tempered glass.

davejay: “... the code you quote involves glass in a specific position relative to doors and whatnot. This doesn't apply to all glass, and we don't know if the poster's glass falls into the area the code is concerned with.”

This is a small point, and I'm not too attached to my interpretation (I mostly wanted to get people thinking about actual details of the code) but the bit I quote actually clearly states that all "panels of glazing" - which includes glass windows - that are between 6 and 48 inches on one side must be tempered glass. I know I quoted a small bit in the middle that had to do with windows close to doors, and I probably should have left that out, but the rest of what I quoted clearly states that all new windows (of an ordinary window dimension) must be tempered.
posted by koeselitz at 8:18 PM on April 10, 2010

but the rest of what I quoted clearly states that all new windows (of an ordinary window dimension) must be tempered.

Not so clear to me. The way I read the quote, though I realize it's edited, and I don't have the patience/bandwidth to download the original document, those rules are only applicable to "security openings," i.e. glazing in or near doors or which would allow burglars to gain entry. I doubt it's at all applicable to a second-story window facing an intersection. IMO, your assertion also doesn't pass the plausibility test, since tempered glass is much more expensive and any code that required it in every new window would incite rebellion.

OP, XOD is correct that standard window glass is 3/32". It's close enough to 1/16" that it's difficult to tell the difference if you're measuring with a standard cheapo dime-store ruler. Unless you have a fine machinist's or draftsman's ruler, or a set of dial or vernier calipers, you're probably just measuring incorrectly. Keep in mind that window glass thickness has been standardized for many decades. You can be fairly sure your landlord hasn't been intentionally replacing broken panes with thin/substandard material, because he can't easily get any such product. The hardware doesn't carry 1/16" glass.

Also, thicker glass would no virtually nothing to reduce noise.
posted by jon1270 at 4:37 AM on April 11, 2010

This is a small point, and I'm not too attached to my interpretation (I mostly wanted to get people thinking about actual details of the code) but the bit I quote actually clearly states that all "panels of glazing" - which includes glass windows - that are between 6 and 48 inches on one side must be tempered glass.

Ah, but only in B, M, F, and S occupancies. None of those cover apartment buildings, whcih would most likely be R-2, or possibly R-3 if it's a duplex. The California Code (not sure about LA's own code) has requirements for where tempered (or safety glazing, like laminated glass) must be used in residences, but it's generally for very large panes of glass. Unless the broken window in this case is adajcent to or in a door, there's probably no code violation.

The section that talks about all glazing is merely saying that the following code applies to glazing, and that sections apply where they say they do.
posted by LionIndex at 9:25 AM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

1/16" could be picture framing glass, not meant for windows. i've seen it installed in some houses
posted by eustatic at 10:57 PM on April 4, 2011

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