'I heard that somebody's toilet exploded in to their house'

SEATTLE, Wash. - Reports of "exploding toilets" are raising concerns in a Seattle neighborhood. At least two homeowners experienced something unusual in their bathrooms.

The imagination paints a vivid picture when you hear words "exploding toilet."

'I heard that somebody's toilet exploded in to their house," neighbor Margaret Dybash says. "I was envisioning projectile sewage in somebody's home."

It was not raw sewage that spilled into bathrooms. Whatever spilled in those bathrooms was as clean as whatever was in the toilet at the time.

"In one case it overflowed clean water, and in one case it was not so clean water," Division Director Sarah Miller says.

Seattle Public Utility crews caused the overflow in at least two Maple Leaf neighborhood homes last week.

"Occasionally we do have burbling up in toilets when we are cleaning sewer lines with our high pressure sprayers," Miller says.

While it can be operator error, SPU explains it's usually caused when a home's vent stack is clogged, channeling high pressure air into the plumbing.

SPU runs six to seven crews, Monday through Friday, making sure the city's sewer lines are free of sand, sludge, roots, grease, and debris.

Considering they clean 400 miles of line a year, managers say they're doing good if they only get a handful of complaints.

"We want to know about those circumstances because we investigate those circumstances, and we want to find out if there's a particular problem," Miller says.

One of the homeowners who experienced burbling toilets did not walk to talk on camera, but did say it was no big deal.

That means the other would be the home where dirty water overflowed. SPU says that person has filed a claim for damages.
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