glass railing for deck

Deck Guardrails Should Not Fall Off

Glass Panels Fly in WindStorm

 A client called us for advice. Two of her glass panels on the deck railing system had blown off during a windstorm and she was concerned whether the installation was done properly. She had turned to local contractor for advice and was told that the panels were not adequately supported and the work may not have been done to code. Of course, this is alarming news to any homeowner and so a call to us was made for help.

Always Go Back to Supplier

Our homeowner was able to find the supplier and determine that the supplier had also installed the deck railing system.  We always advise homeowners to go back to the supplier for any needed repairs. In addition, if there is something inherently wrong with the installation, the supplier certainly needs to know about it and will welcome the feedback, especially if it affects safety and performance.

A Certified System

A deck railing system consist of glass panels, vertical support posts, horizontal and/or vertical support brackets and possibly a top handrail. All these individual components make  up a certified system. 

Certification refers to the fact that the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has approved the handrail system for installation. Prior to receiving approval, the supplier has to submit a complete set of drawings and specifications for the handrails. Those specification must meet or exceed all building code requirements for fall protection, include impact forces. Once CSA has approved the system, the supplier must abide by the approved installation method that was reviewed and approved by CSA.

Properly Installed?

Now back to our client. When a local contractor gave an opinion that the guardrail was not installed to code and that was why the glass panels blew off… The only way to know that is to look at the approved installation drawings and compare them to the ‘as built’ condition. It is unlikely that our local contactor had that information available. However the supplier will certainly have that information on file.

Our Recommendation

 The homeowner contacted the supplier to come to the site and inspect the installation. If there are deficiencies in the installation, then the supplier should be obligated to make repairs. Even if there is no evidence of material failure or the cause of failure cannot be determined, then the supplier is still in the best position to make the repairs, as they have the specific metal profiles and brackets for the railing system.