Nobody was injured when a toilet exploded Tuesday at the Stillwater County courthouse in Columbus.
Norma Brewer, deputy county treasurer, was in the bathroom at the courthouse and had just exited the stall when the toilet burst.
“I had just closed the door behind me when it went off,” she said. “That saved me. But it sounded like a huge bomb went off in this courthouse.”
Brewer said that the toilet uses a Series 503 Flushmate III Pressure Assist system, for which the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a voluntary recall in 2012.
“The system can burst at or near the vessel weld seam releasing stored pressure,” the recall press release said. “This pressure can lift the tank lid and shatter the tank, posing impact or laceration hazards to consumers and property damage.”
The system is installed inside toilet tanks and is a black, rectangular two-piece system made of plastic.
At the Stillwater courthouse, the explosion destroyed the toilet’s tank, leaving debris and shards scattered across the floor nearby.
The initial recalled systems were built from 1997 to 2008, with an estimated 2,330,600 of them in U.S. and nearly 10,000 more in Canada. The CPSC expanded the recall in January to include an additional 351,000 in the U.S. and 9,400 more in Canada, built in 2008 and 2009.
According to the CPSC news releases, Flushmate received 304 reports of the systems bursting which resulted in property damage and 14 that resulted in injuries relating to the first recalled batch, as well as three reports of non-injury explosions in the second batch.
Brewer said she wants to make sure that nobody else is injured and has been speaking with friends, businesses and
organizations in the area to make sure they’re aware of the recalls.
“If they receive these recalls, they need to respond to this,” she said. “My main concern is that I want everybody to be aware and to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
There are numerous toilets using the same system throughout the courthouse and Brewer said Flushmate has already promised to send out replacement or repair kits for all of the recalled models for them.
She said county officials are discussing
options on what to do in the meantime.
According to the CPSC, the recalled units have a 16-digit date code and serial number on the top label. The first six numbers are the date and the recalled units will have numbers from 101497 to 022908 or 030108 to 063009.
The CPSC also recommends that anyone with one of the recalled systems stop using it, turn off the water supply to the toilet, flush it to release any pressure and get in touch with Flushmate for a repair kit.
Flushmate may be reached on its toll-free hotline 800-303-5123 between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. eastern time, Monday through Friday, and between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Eastern time Saturday.