Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Case of the Exploding Toilets

We don't link to the Washington Post very often, but this hot toilet news item is irresistible.

The toilets exploded in the General Services Administration headquarters in Washington, DC. Two employees were injured by flying porcelain shards, and one of them had to be taken to the hospital.

The rare accident, which started in a water tank on the roof of the agency’s capital region headquarters Monday morning, quickly became representative of Washington’s ills — from the bureaucratic response to the venom it released against the government and its employees.

“How many $1,200 toilet seats has the government bought, and here we have a toilet going boom!” mused Chuck White, vice president of technical and code services for the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. “I’m sure people think this is just one more example of our government in action.”

By the time his wife in Indiana found his expert-weighs-in quotes in the Huffington Post on Tuesday night — in a story under “Weird News” with a video of a plumber checking toilet pressure — the tale of the exploding toilet had gone viral.

“A new way to get government employees off their butts,” a reader wrote in one of the tamer comments. “Now we need to install the same equipment in the halls of Congress....”

Later it was explained that water in a multi-story building had to flow at a higher pressure to reach the upper floors. A malfunction in the storage tank resulted in excessive water pressure, which caused the toilets to explode.

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