Problem Glass

The main causes of ‘Problem Glass’ are MAD! 

What is Problem Glass?

Moisture, Alkalinity and Dirt (MAD) can easily cause glass, exterior or interior, to become Problem Glass. Glass is all around us and, when new, promises visibility, clarity and cleanliness. Unless glass is protected against MAD, it can easily break these promises before, during or after installation. Problem Glass is any glass that has broken, or is likely to break, its original promises.

What causes Problem Glass?  

The two biggest enemies of glass are moisture and alkalinity. Either individually or together, they can etch or dissolve the surface of glass, making it appear dull and sometimes white in appearance. Some dirt can damage the surface, and further harm can be caused in efforts to remove it.  

Moisture can be in its liquid form, such as rainfall, or as a vapour in high humidity areas.

Alkalinity comes from hard tap water, sea water and construction materials such as cement dust and building run-off from concrete, bricks or mortar.

Organic dirt does not normally attack glass but can attach firmly to the surface and be difficult to remove. For exterior glass, this includes traffic film, bird droppings and tree sap. For interior glass, organic dirt includes fingermarks and cooking oil vapours.

Inorganic dirt bonds chemically to glass and is difficult, if not impossible, to remove using conventional cleaning methods. Inorganic dirt on exterior glass includes sea spray, industrial emissions, metal oxides from railways and construction materials such as cement dust and building run-off. For interior glass, an example is limescale from hard tap water.

Where do I find Problem Glass?

It is most likely to be found in locations such as:

  • construction sites 

  • sloped glazing - conservatory roofs, rooflights

  • buildings with difficult access for routine washing 

  • glazing exposed to run-off from concrete, bricks, mortar, stonework, lead flashing, silicone sealants

  • glazing in polluted areas - city centres, industrial estates, near railways, coastal

  • interior glass – shower enclosures, sandblasted glass, kitchen splashbacks


Examples of Problem Glass

Moisture attack

Damage during construction

Environmental pollution


Building run-off

Problem Glass



What are the consequences of Problem Glass?

Problem Glass becomes increasingly difficult to clean and keep clean – a high-maintenance material of construction. In spite of frequent and intensive cleaning, it can easily lose its original visibility and sparkling appearance, developing severe, permanent and unsightly staining on its surface, causing the glass to lose its original visual appeal. Effective cleaning becomes more difficult, more frequent and more costly. 

This can have serious consequences for specifiers, fabricators, contractors, installers, building owners and occupants.  Problem Glass can fail to achieve industry standards for light transmission that were met at the time of installation. This has negative effects on daylighting in a building as well as reducing the well-being and productivity of its occupants.

Solutions for ‘Problem Glass’ in buildings before, during and after installation

For 40 years, Ritec has developed and supplied innovative and cost-effective solutions for Problem Glass. These solutions provide either ‘prevention’ for new installations or ‘cure’ for glass already installed.


Ritec Systems Australia

T: +44 20 8344 8210

Ritec International Ltd

Registered Office: 15 Compass West Estate, West Road, London N17 0XL, UK

Registered in England & Wales registration number 2106699

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