News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood


Update on The Exploding Toilets of Maple Leaf

August 20th, 2013 by Mike

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.

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