6.05.2007

Liquid Fire = liquid hell.

Okay, so we had a clogged drain in the bathroom. It was stopped up pretty good. We'd used stuff like Drano Gel in the past, and at first they seemed to do the trick. But lately we'd noticed that that didn't seem to be working quite as well as we expected it to.
So we went to the hardware store looking for something stronger. That's where I first saw Liquid Fire. With a name like that, well, it had to be some powerful stuff, right? The warnings on the label made it sound too dangerous to even consider using. But I figured, what the hell, maybe it was a little danger we needed to take care of this drain stoppage once and for all.
I slapped down nine bucks for it...a bit expensive, yeah, but that only served to strengthen my hopes that it was just what we needed. We took it home and, in a rush to fix the drain, used it immediately.
I poured the required amount into the sink (I believe it was 4 ounces) and we waited.
We didn't have to wait for very long, though. Within seconds a goo-ey, black substance belched out of the hole...I say it was black, but actually the color looked like the accumulation of years worth of the goop that pipes must be lined with after considerable use.
It was quite a sight to see, but the real surprise came when the foulest odor I've ever smelled in my entire life rapidly permeated the air. This stench had the power to induce vomiting for a man with a weak stomach. Good for me, mine is steel-lined. Still, it knocked me back and had me gagging, running outside (to where it eventually gravitated to).
About 20 minutes later, holding a washcloth to my nose, I ventured back into the bathroom to see if it had done the job it was hired to do. Nasty or not, nine bucks is nine bucks...and if I'm going to have to have my olfactory senses assaulted like that there had better be a pay-off.
The water poured into the drain...and it stayed there. It did eventually go down, and it seemed like it was faster than it had been...just not fast enough.
So maybe it WAS working, right? Maybe all I had to do was try a second application, eh? I considered the vile, reeking smell, and as repugnant the thought of enduring that a second time was (not that the first wave had subsided much at all), there was still that notion of "pay-off" foremost in my mind. After all, it seemed to at least begin the process. Nine bucks, right? Maybe the drain just needed one more jolt of Liquid Fire to be cleared out completely. That's what we went to the hardware store for, so fuck it! Let's give 'er another go and git 'r' done!
Fighting off the strong urge to gag at the lingering smell, I once again replaced the washcloth directly in front of my nose. I poured in another 4 ounces of Liquid Fire.
There was no repeat of the icky-sticky goop erupting from the drain-hole, but the stench made a big time comeback, filling the entire house with an invisible fog of what can only be described, inadequately at that, as "The Fragrance of Bile, Rot & Decay"...who knows, likely CSI investigators and detectives encountering a decomposing body might have experienced something more nauseating. I hope, though, that I never smell anything worse than Liquid Fire's handiwork the rest of my days.
Regardless of the second odor go-round, when I poured water into it this time it actually did seem to go down very quickly. "Hallelujah!", you might say. "Nine bucks well spent, even if the drawbacks were abominable. She got 'r' done, huh?"
That's what I thought, as we had all the windows open and a fan facing outdoors, the nasty smell would clear out in a few hours.
Then I looked in the cabinet under the bathroom sink. That's the point where my heart sank.
Liquid Fire had burned a hole in my pipes, and water, contaminated with sulfuric acid, was dripping all over the batch of crap that was down there. Every hope abandoned, I placed a plastic pale beneath the ruined pipe and watched it slowly fill.
Not currently being able to fix that leak, the pail is still under the pipe to this day (it's been a couple of weeks since this dreaded incident took place). I have to empty it out on a somewhat regular basis...sometimes it's pretty full and other times it's not too bad. I guess it all depends on how much we use that sink (as we've tried to avoid utilyzing it unless absolutely necessary).
If even THAT were all, I could chalk it up to "lesson learned", replace the pipe and sleep well at night, figuratively speaking.
Figuratively speaking my rest would not have lasted very long. Over the course of the days since we first tried the Liquid Fire with such disasterous results we have noticed a growing stink in that bathroom, at first imperceptable, but escalating by degrees into the essence of Liquid Fire's fragrant handiwork. Not quite as pungeant as the original, but who knows what it will smell like if left to mature for a few more weeks?
My father-in-law (who, btw, uses Liquid Fire to flush the plumbing in the rent houses he owns, apparently with better results than we had) says that likely the stuff has caused a leak in the pipes beneath the floor and the resulting distilled goop is seeping up into the carpet, causing it to stink by degrees.
So not only will we have to replace the indoor pipes, we'll likely have to do something about the underground plumbing. Add to that the cost of ripping up ruined carpet and laying linoleum in it's place...well nine bucks doesn't seem all that much anymore.
Hoping all this will get worked out soon, I reflect today upon the toll Liquid Fire has taken not only upon my bathroom, but on my mental stability. I cringe now at the very mention of the name "Liquid Fire" (not that I had ever heard of or used the term before, but lately it seems to come up in conversation, and always in conjunction with much regret and hindsight). If I had my way, every shelf in every hardware store that holds this toxic concoction would be emptied and re-stocked with stuffed teddy bears. If the abominable "Amazing! Products company that brews this demon's nectar were to go out of business I would celebrate in the streets like a drunk Mardi Gras reveller with a backing role in a "Girls Gone Wild" video.
"Amazing!", wouldn't you know it, does not even have a website to lodge one's complaints. In fact, you can do an internet search for Liquid Fire and come up with nothing except some chemistry stuff, none of which relates to Liquid Fire. I've even searched for images of the bottle on the net, wanting to write this piece for a long time. Nothing. Nada. Zilch (which explains the crappy photo at the top that I took with our antideluvian digital camera...sorry).
So, despite my father-in-laws likely recommendation of the stuff (which he probably has a few tricks up his sleeve in the use of such black magic), I wouldn't wish upon anyone what we've gone through with this ungodly shit. Give it a try, if you must. Maybe your experience, unlike ours, will be a positive one. But if it happens to push you into a vortex of misery and remorse, don't say I didn't warn you.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

sorry to hear about your experience. i just bought the stuff and used it on my bathtub. it was recommended by a plumber. it worked very very well. my drain worked better than when i moved into the place 4 years ago! it did have a sulfuric odor, but nothing intolerable. i'm thinking that there was residue of past chemicals that may have been used in your pipes which reacted to the liquid fire. there are warning on the bottle of these happenings. In any event, hope you got it all worked out.

-draining free in honolulu

J. A. Casey said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad that you had a more positive experience with Liquid Fire. Very likely you are correct about the chemical residue reaction. I did read all the warnings on the bottle (very carefully, at that) but I didn't think we had anything to worry about. I was obviously wrong. Still, I'll stay away from the stuff in the future.

Thanks again. I appreciate your comment.

Anonymous said...

Oh man. Worst experience of my life. I wont go into detail, but my experience was like yours. It sounded like a miracle product, but now the smell of a firework show and sharpie has been burned into my entire downstairs and leaks through the vents into the upstairs. It's hard to find humor in this kind of event, but I did get a few chuckles.

Ringo