Exploding toilets prompt recall of 1.4 million flushing systems

Credit: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Credit: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Officials are recalling 1.4 million pressure-assisted flushing systems manufactured between 1996 and 2013 after nearly 1,500 of the systems burst in toilet tanks, causing about $710,000 in damage and 23 injuries.

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One of the injuries was severe enough to require foot surgery, according to officials with the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The agency on Thursday issued a recall notice for Flushmate II 501-B pressure-assisted flushing systems, which can burst at or near vessel weld seams and release stored pressure, sometimes with enough force to lift the tank lid and shatter the tank.

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The units were sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s stores nationwide, through plumbing contractors and distributors, and installed in toilets manufactured by American Standard, Corona, Crane, Kohler and Mansfield, according to CPSC. The systems were also sold through several online retailers between September 1996 and December 2015.

Officials released the following description of the Flushmate II 501-B pressure-assisted flushing systems under recall:

The units are rounded oval, black, two-piece vessels made of injection molded plastic. Recalled units have a date code/serial number that is 15 characters long and is located on the label on top of the Flushmate II 501-B unit. The first six numerals of the serial number are the date code. The date code range for units included in this recall in MMDDYY format is 090396 (September 3, 1996) through 120713 (December 7, 2013). The model code is 10 characters long and is located on the same product label. The model code starts with M and ends with F.

Officials recommended that people who have Flushmate II 501-B systems stop using them, turn off the water supply to the units and flush the toilets to release internal pressure. Consumers were asked to contact Flushmate to request a free replacement and installation by a technician.

The recall issued Thursday included about 17,300 flushing systems sold in Canada. Officials said Flushmate received seven reports of the systems exploding in the country.

Officials noted that millions of Flushmate III pressure-assisted flushing systems were previously recalled for the same reason in 2012, 2014 and 2016.