August 20

Update on The Exploding Toilets of Maple Leaf



Update Aug. 21: KOMO-TV did a story today on this disquieting issue.


We’ve an answer back from Andy Ryan of Seattle Public Utilities (he was out of the office late last week) about “exploding toilets” here Thursday as maintenance was being done by the utility.

Thanks to the folks who provided 15 illuminating comments on the original story.

For those wanting more background on Annie’s and David’s comments on a Seattle woman who died in a flooded basement, our news partner The Seattle Times has more here and here. (If this is the correct incident, the victim was a 41-year-old women in Madison Valley in 2006.)

Here’s the reply from the utility:

We have been in contact with two customers who were affected by maintenance operations last week in the Maple Leaf neighborhood.

As you may know, we clean sewer mainlines with high-pressure jet nozzles, and on rare occasions this causes high pressure air or water spray to enter side sewers. If a customer’s vent stack is plugged, the air or water pressure can burble up in the toilet. This is a good reason for keeping your toilet lid down, which will prevent the “toilet burp” from spraying into the bathroom. We think this is probably what occurred in the Maple Leaf neighborhood last week.

Following up, we put one of the customers in contact with our claims inspector because dirty water sprayed on her bathroom floor. In the case of the other customer, it was clean water on the bathroom floor—which she mopped up with a T-shirt.

In the unlikely event that something like this happens to one of your readers, they should call SPU operations, at 206-386-1800.

About the author 

Sara W

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  1. I just read the articles you posted about the poor woman who drowned in her home recording studio. It sparked some thoughts about a few things.

    First of all, we had a pretty major leak in the middle of our road on 104th St. about a month ago. A city worker came by, marked the area, and as she was speaking with the residents here, cars were driving over the effected area causing more and more water to continue to leak out of the road. The water crews were summoned and worked through the night. Although they kept me up ALL night working outside my bedroom window, the crews were here ALL night to fix the issue. I was impressed with their readiness, quick response and manpower. However, is this a symptom of the old sewage and drainage issues we face here such as in Madison Valley where the big floods were?

    Second, being new to the area, I took the Underground Tour recently. How interesting it was! Apparently, Seattle has from day 1 had sewage and drainage issues! It’s just interesting how the city was built so quickly, without proper planning to handle the drainage issues.

    For those of us near Thorton Creek, I’ve read and heard of the underground springs and the fact that Northgate Mall was built on a cranberry bog. Water, water everywhere!

    I guess they’re not doing so bad considering the settlers were walking through sewage just to get to the store, but this is 2013… it would be so nice if our residents could expect a dry toilet. I learned that if you flushed at high tide, you may have been in for a big surprise back in the day!

    Just some thoughts for discussion. I am still trying to figure out the lay of the land too much to know which direction to turn, but I am interested in how this effects our community as a whole. Keep the news coming Maple Leaf Life. You are doing a great job!

  2. On Friday I got a call from my mother on 80th and 14th NE. her basement was flooded with2 inches of dirty water. A sewer clean-out had its cover blown off. I didnt hear about the others until my sister in Oregon heard about on the news down there.We made the news!!

  3. Just to set the record straight: The claims inspector who came to our house saw only the kitchen area with water damage. He took a photo of it and left. (There was no need to show him our bathrooms because there was no water damage there, just wet messes that had already been cleaned up.)

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