9OYS Consumer Watch
Explosive toilets prompt recall
Reporter: Aaron Brackett
Web Producer: Mekita Rivas
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's something we all use every day -- the toilet. This piece of porcelain is a commonplace in every home, but that next flush may be more dangerous than you think.
In as many as 2.3 million households, there may be a ticking time bomb in the bathroom, but it's not every toilet that you have to worry about, just those with an added feature designed to reduce clogging.
Due to new government restrictions on how much water the toilet uses each time you flush, gravity fed systems like this are becoming obsolete in favor of pressure assist systems to get the job done.
While most of the pressure assist devices are safe to use, a recall put out last June says otherwise.
In June, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled the "Flushmate 3" toilet flushing system because it can explode without warning. According to the report, the pressure tank seal can rupture and cause a toilet to shatter into pieces.
Robert William Ashton of Arizona Professional Plumbing hasn't seen anything this bad in his 33 years as a plumber. Nine On Your Side showed him photos of a victim of a toilet explosion.
"It looks like a very large wound, my guess is 6-7 inches," said Ashton. "Due to the fact that it hit the guy, he was probably shocked, stood up and it just sliced him more, it's a good possibility. I have never seen anything like that before."
Ashton did tell me that when working properly, the devices can really help flush everything down with less water.
According to the recall, over 2.3 million of these flush assist products were sold in the U.S., but more than 300 reports of explosions and 14 injuries have occurred.
Nine On Your Side contacted Sloan Marketing Director Paul DeBoo to ask what the company is doing to fix the problem.
DeBoo refused to talk on the phone, but did release an email to KGUN9 saying: "As part of a range of options to ensure toilets are working properly with the repair kit installed, we have produced detailed customer-friendly instructions, an easy-to-follow instructional video, and, as needed, we provide live customer service walk-throughs over the telephone. We have expanded our call center, improved our customer service and demonstrated the highest level of responsiveness to our customers."
Tucson attorney Mike Piccarreta sees a problem with that fix.
"What the company is doing is apparently sending some type of repair kit to anyone that has this problem with their toilet, however it would seem to me that if the company really wants to rectify the problem, they need to give you compensation so you can have a plumber install it as opposed to go through a process where you might do it right, you might do it wrong, or go through the inconvenience of having to do your own plumbing," said Piccarreta.
Despite the recall, Ashton says flush assist systems are a safe way to avoid jammed johns.
To find out if your toilet is affected, you need to lift the tank. If there is a large black device labeled "Flushmate 3", disconnect the water input immediately and call Sloan to get the repair kit at no charge. They can be reached at 1-800-303-5123.