Spontaneous lavatory combustion
A FEMALE EMPLOYEE at the General Services Administration (GSA) building in Washington, D.C. sustained serious injuries from sitting on an exploding toilet on Sept. 26.
According to a memo circulated throughout the building, a mechanical failure led to high water pressure in the domestic water system. This subsequently led to explosions in the restrooms. Workers were instructed not to flush any toilets or use taps connected to domestic water lines.
Water flowing through a city’s plumbing systems is often sent at a high pressure because it travels long distances. The water is typically slowed down once it reaches its destination, but in this case, the pressure-reducing valve malfunctioned.
“The closer you are to the source pump, the higher the pressure will be,” Larry Rothman, director at Roto-Rooter, the plumbing and drain service of the building, told the Huffington Post.
Rothman explained that short of a toilet bomb or methane gas in a sewer line, it’s unlikely that a toilet would actually explode. Typically, high water pressure causes faucets to spew uncontrollably or become detached from fixtures.
Chuck White, vice president of technical and code services for the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association, described an exploding toilet using a metaphor for Old Faithful.
“If you’re not careful about how you release pressure, the contents of that [toilet] bowl will come up.”
A toilet wouldn’t explode so much as it would erupt.
The injuries of the GSA employee, whose name has not been released, were treated at a local hospital and are not considered life threatening.