Thar She Blows!
Some homeowners in Miami are getting the shocks of their lives: Toilets that suddenly erupt with water that shoots two feet in the air — with all the unpleasantness you might imagine.
"The sewage wet everything, and it stunk to high heaven," said one woman who was awakened by a geyser in her bathroom. She looked outside and spotted the culprit: a county crew cleaning out a sewer line with high-pressure hoses. "I threw on a gown, ran outside and yelled at workers until they stopped," she said. This isn't one-time problem. "It's like Russian roulette," said a water and sewer department official. "We don't know when, where or why. It just happens."
What's going on? The crews are cleaning the pipes so they can run a camera along them checking for leaks. The high-pressure cleaning clears out rocks and other sediment, giving the cameras a better angle, but if there's a blockage in a nearby residential pipe, it can deliver a most unwelcome surprise to homeowners. "The sewage drains by gravity, because the pipes are at an angle," says the manufacturer of the high-pressure equipment. "If sewage is settled, when the water hose comes by it, it'll force the stuff back up in the house."
How often does this happen? The county doesn't know, because most homeowners assume the problem must be with their plumbing and end up replacing perfectly good pipes, rather than complaining to the government. Even so, the county paid $7,500 last year in clean-up costs to residents who figured out real source of their problems and raised a stink about it. Posted 9/15/2003
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