Why did my toilets explode?

I came home after the morning errands, and found that both toilet bowls were empty and there was water all over the floor and surrounding surfaces.

Do I need to call a plumber? What may have happened?

I live alone in a house in flat terrain.

ETA: Sorry, just realized this is GQ. My bad.

They are probably under the beds now. Put a ring of salt around each mattress to prevent them migrating throughout the house.

They mostly come out in the dark. . . mostly.

Methane explosion somewhere in the sewers?

Maybe call the water/sewer dept. and see if they know and/or turn on the local news.

It does call into question the “let it mellow” principle.

If you are on a septic tank system, that’s different from a municipal sewer system. The muni system has vents all over so an explosion into you house is less likely. On a septic system, maybe you did have an explosion of gases. I don’t know what the ignition source would be. If it’s an old tank, maybe it collapsed. If so, go out and look for a sink hole in your yard> and don’t fall in.

So you either call a plumber if it’s your system or call the municipality if it’s their system.

You must be glad you were not reading the New York Times when this happened.

I’m on the city sewer system. I’ve given them a call to see if they know what’s up.

Guy from Public Works just showed up. Apparently they were doing work on the line this morning on my street, and it may have caused the problem.

Now that the cause is known, do your sinks drain well? IE: do they drain quickly and smoothly, or do they go “glub-glub-glub”?

If the latter, your sewer vent is clogged and isn’t letting outside air into the system. A properly-working vent should have allowed most of the back-pressure to well, vent safely outside, rather than eject the contents of your toilet bowls.

My drains drain very well. I can give the vent stack a look anyway tomorrow.

I work for a sewer utility.

I’d be willing to bet that your utility was cleaning the sewers with a hydrojet. If the hydrojet operator used an excessive amount of pressure (allegedly in order to clear a blockage, or because the jet got stuck), it is possible to force pressurized water up the house laterals and out the toilets.

This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen occasionally–and the cause is invariably due to operator error. When it happens during our cleaning operations, we get our claims department involved, and they pay for the cleanup in the homeowner’s house, usually from a company like Servpro. If the hydrojet operator is an outside contractor, we turn around and bill them for the cost of the damages.

In my state, we also have to report the incident to the state Department of Environmental Protection, as it is considered an unpermitted release or “bypass” of sewage. If we have an excessive number of these, we can be fined or otherwise penalized by the state.

It it were me, I would contact your utility, find out exactly what happened, and tell them you want to make a claim for damages. At a minimum, they owe you a professional cleanup.

Finally, if the person you spoke to stated that the work on the sewer main “may have caused the problem,” you can take that to mean that they know they caused the problem.

Toilets migrate? That must be quite a sight!

It’s when you hear them talking, there’s a problem.

African or European toilets?

Happened to me once, and I witnessed it. Freaked me right out for a second, and yep, there were sewer workers just up the street.

I don’t know!


Wow! This could basically turn your toilet into a bathroom-mounted rat cannon.

That would also do a number of the washing machine and most sinks, too, right? Starting with whatever is lowest in the house, of course.

I’m thinking Patch, you might want to rinse out your washing machine before you use it next.

Just a wild guess… was your pool filled with fizzies, and were your trees filled with underwear?

Well, my toilet went crazy
Yesterday afternoon
The plumber he says
“Never flush a tampoon!”
This great information
Cost me half a week’s pay
And the toilet blew up
Later on the next day ay-eee-ay
Yeah ay-eee-ay
Yeah ay-eee-ay
Yeah ay-eee-ay
Blew up the next day

No doubt this scenario will get worked into the next Final Destination movie.