How Safe are Your Mirrors?

How Safe are Your Mirrors?

Picture this scenario: You're sitting on the living room couch and suddenly hear a loud crashing sound somewhere in the back of the house.

You walk back and discover that the large mirror on the wall of your master bath has fallen to the floor and shattered into many pieces.

Your first thought would probably be: I'm so grateful no one was in the bathroom when it happened. Your second: How can I make sure this doesn't happen again?

To make sure your mirrors are safe, first consider the age of the mirror in question. When was it glued to the wall?

"If your mirror was mounted on the bathroom wall in the 1970s, that's a signal for caution on your part," says Brian Orsborn, commercial manager with Bill's Glass and Windshields of Medford. That's because the mastic — the glue used to affix mirrors to wall — can degrade over time, and its quality wasn't as good back then as it is today.

A second consideration is: Was the mirror properly installed?

"There is a proper way to do the install, but a lot of people do not do it "¦" says Toni Ann Edwards, co-owner of Medford Plate Glass.

She recommends that the bathroom mirror be mounted inside a "j-metal." This is a strip of metal attached to the wall that rests on top of the backsplash. Or you can use clips to help anchor the mirror.

"The mirror should sit atop the backsplash," she says. "You need to prevent water from getting behind the mirror. Moisture behind the mirror can cause the glue to weaken."

So, if your mirror is old and appears not to have been installed properly, what do you do next?

"Put your hand against the mirror and see if it will move," says Orsborn. "It should not move if bonded properly. If it moves, it's starting to go."

You can also check to see if the mirror is flush with the wall, or closer to the wall at one end than the other, Edwards suggests. And if you see a wave, distortion or unevenness, that can be a sign of trouble.

If your mirror appears to flunk one or more of these tests, there are a couple of options.

Some firms will come out and check your mirror at no charge if they have another job in your neighborhood, Edwards mentions. Ask about that.

Or if it appears that you need to replace the mirror, especially if it is an extremely large piece, calling a professional is probably the best option.

"Mounting mirrors is not a do-it-yourself project," says Orsborn. "If you call a company to come fix the mirror, get someone with experience. This is not a project to be taken lightly."

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