Exploding patio tables worry consumers

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Spending time outside on the patio is a big deal to Betsy Bowers and her family. That is exactly why they bought a nice patio table and chairs.

"A nice thick glass table, that was one of the things that I had mainly told my husband is what I wanted, to make sure it was sturdy," says Bowers.

In her words, she says the glass "exploded" for no apparent reason and it sounded horrible.
"It was almost like a big metal door falling over and clanging just a bunch of stuff breaking," says Bowers.

She says tiny pieces of glass fell to the ground everywhere and made noises. In fact, She was able to capture video moments after it shattered.

"First instinct being a mom, I was really mad because my kids were here and they could have been put in danger," says Bowers.

But why would a glass table, simply burst for no reason. Well, type in exploding glass tables into the Internet and you'll find dozens of consumers who say it happened to them. We even found home security video that caught the whole thing as it happened.

3 On Your Side got a hold of American Glass Company, one of the Valley's oldest glass manufacturing businesses in the Valley, to find out how common of a problem this actually is.

"It's tempered glass in a patio table. Tempered glass is kind of dicey stuff, it can blow up without warning it's not common, but it does happen," says Chris Couto.

Couto is the general manager for American Glass. He acknowledges tempered glass does shatter from time to time, but says it's made to break into tiny pieces for safety reasons. He illustrated his point by breaking a piece of tempered glass for us.

It continues to pop and crack for awhile, but all that cracking and popping is actually normal.

"It's designed to break into small pieces so it doesn't cut you badly," says Couto.

Couto says other than plastic, there really is no other better or safer alternative than tempered glass materials. However, Bowers says her so-called exploding glass table was so disturbing, she'll no longer buy glass patio furniture

"Having a safe environment for my children. That's the number one thing that a parent wants, you know? You want to go purchase something and not have to worry about your kids playing out back without you and being able to pull them out from underneath the table that's exploding," says Bowers.

As far as I can tell, there's been one lawsuit regarding exploding glass tables, but the case went nowhere because the manufacturer went bankrupt.

As for recalls, there are none, so it's consumer beware.