The Artglass Association of New Zealand (those skilled in making and repairing leadlight), recommend everyone who owns leadlight windows carefully examine their leadlights for damage from the more than 13,000 earthquakes Christchurch has had since September 2010.
Leadlights and Stained glass have suffered major damage from the earthquakes, but the problem is that unless the panels contain broken glass the damage is going largely unnoticed.
Every leadlight in Christchurch has been put under huge stress and vibration. The vibration and shaking has caused cracking of both internal and border lead joints. These are the very joints that hold the leadlight panel together and give the leadlight its structural strength.
There are hairline cracks that are very hard to see and expert advice should be sought to determine whether the leadlight has suffered earthquake damage or not.
Once these fine hairline cracks appear in the lead, sagging of the whole panel either inwards or outwards can occur. This sagging could be slight but over time it will continue to increase, as now the leadlight is no longer on a flat plane but is slowly collapsing. This sagging causes further pressure on the glass and more breaks in the glass will continue to occur.
Hairline cracks in the lead, slight slumping of the panel, edges of glass visible are some of the signs that the window has suffered earthquake damage.
If leadlights are not repaired now, as the earthquake damage that it is, then the unthinkable will happen. The structural strength of the window will continue to deteriorate and the owner of the home or building that contains these beautiful windows will be faced with an unenviable decision. Finance their repair personally or loose these beautiful windows permanently.
For professional advice contact your local member of the Art Glass Association of New Zealand.