Ice stalagmite

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IMG_3699_IceStalagmite.JPG

Ice stalagmite. My furnace drowned during the recent floods in Boulder, and I replaced it with a high-efficiency furnace. The furnace discharges into a plastic pipe, which the technicians ran up the old flue. We are nearing the end of the first cold snap of the year, with nighttime temperatures running below 0 °F, and the condensation from the pipe evidently caused the ice stalagmite on the roof.

19 Comments

Interesting.

But keep an eye out for damage. The exhaust vapor from high-efficiency furnaces (I have one) is acidic and can eventually cause damage where the vapors condense.

Many years ago I saw one of these in Mallory Cave, above the Table Mesa area in Boulder. That ice stalagmite was about 2 feet high and 2 inches in diameter. At first I thought it was a candle that some cultist had set up in the cave. Matt’s formation is in the sunshine, which means that it’s really cold outside.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Well, the stalagmite is now gone. It grew several inches overnight, until it got within a pipe diameter or so of the venting pipe. That made me worry that it might grow enough overnight to block the pipe, so I called the contractor. Turns out that the pipes were supposed to be vertical, and they will fix that error when the snow melts. Meanwhile, they climbed onto the roof and knocked down the stalagmite.

Pipes that come out of a wall are horizontal, but they say that ice buildup from the ground is not a problem; I have no idea why.

Robert Byers said:

Its neat and funny. it makes a yEC creationist point. We need to explain formations like this, non ice, in caves etc. tHey say it takes heaps of time but there is no reason not to see that same results from a short time. Just that the creation of the cave was sudden and the formations just a other product of fast mechanisms. why not?

Jesus, Byers, reading your post is like eating a tablespoon full of cold muskrat lard.

When you ask, “why not?”, I assume you mean to ask why it takes a long time to produce a stalagmite in a cave, but a relatively short time to produce an upside-down icicle.

The reason is that we can explain how stalagmites of both sorts, frozen and cavernous, are made. We know how that works, Robert, and we can see that the results are not the same. The two processes are different: one is due to freezing, and one is due to the deposition of minerals dissolved in water. That is how we know that the cave formations were not as “sudden” as an icicle. We know because we understand the physical reality of both processes.

Most of us, those with even near-normal intelligence and education at least, understand that a superficial resemblance between the shapes of an ice stalagmite and a rock stalagmite implies nothing at all about a resemblance in the times necessary for of the two shapes to form. That is nothing but simple-minded confusion.

Matt Young said:

Pipes that come out of a wall are horizontal, but they say that ice buildup from the ground is not a problem; I have no idea why.

With my high efficiency furnace, the contractors ran both the intake and exhaust piping up the chimney all the way from the basement to the top of my two-story house.

The intake pipe has a 180 elbow and points downward; the exhaust points upward, well above the intake pipe.

My furnace doesn’t draw combustion air from within the house; the headed air and combustion air are completely separate. The nearly-equal lengths of the intake and exhaust pipes are recommended for the highest efficiency of combustion.

I have seen the same arrangements for exhaust and intake even when they go out through the side of the house. The intake is turned over and points downward, the exhaust points straight up.

There is always a grade in the lines that take moisture condensing in the exhaust line and brings it down to the bottom of the furnace where a condensate pump pumps it out into a drain, either through plastic tubing to the laundry drain or to a floor drain. The laundry drain is recommended because of the acidic nature of that condensate.

Apparently this manufacturer wants them pointing in the same direction (it is obvious once you realize why), but the exhaust is slightly longer and has a reduction to increase the exhaust velocity. When it was very cold you could see the mist from the exhaust propagating quite a distance to the left in the picture, well beyond the left border. You can just see the intake pipe in the shadow of the exhaust pipe.

Yes, mine has a little pump to remove any condensate that drips down and also any excess from the humidifier. It also has a multistage blower, so the furnace runs longer and heats more-distant rooms better, presumably because the continuous flow overcomes the heat capacity and losses in the longer ducts.

We are out of biology now and into physics.

We are out of biology now and into physics.

A simpler subject! Not nearly as many basic types of things to deal with. :D

Chemistry!

Hypothesis: The exhaust vapor and condensate is acidic for the same reason that the oceans are becoming more acidic in the presence of greater atmospheric CO2. Can a real chemist verify this?

Carl Drews said:

Chemistry!

Hypothesis: The exhaust vapor and condensate is acidic for the same reason that the oceans are becoming more acidic in the presence of greater atmospheric CO2. Can a real chemist verify this?

Seems a reasonable assumption - there aren’t any other likely sources. Of course, a creationist might well tell you that it’s where the extra entropy has gone or that it’s due to demons urinating. Perhaps invisible pink unicorns are soluble in hot water.

Carl Drews said:

Chemistry!

Hypothesis: The exhaust vapor and condensate is acidic for the same reason that the oceans are becoming more acidic in the presence of greater atmospheric CO2. Can a real chemist verify this?

CO2 is a worry for the oceans, but carbonic acid is hardly a very strong acid in the sense of worrying about damage to the usual construction and technology materials humans use–or to human flesh.

Natural gas is stripped of high levels of sulfur, but I wonder if there isn’t still enough for make sulfur oxides, and eventually sulfuric acid in the presence of water. That would be my guess.

Glen Davidson

Glenn Davidson said:

Carl Drews said:

Chemistry!

Hypothesis: The exhaust vapor and condensate is acidic for the same reason that the oceans are becoming more acidic in the presence of greater atmospheric CO2. Can a real chemist verify this?

CO2 is a worry for the oceans, but carbonic acid is hardly a very strong acid in the sense of worrying about damage to the usual construction and technology materials humans use–or to human flesh.

Natural gas is stripped of high levels of sulfur, but I wonder if there isn’t still enough for make sulfur oxides, and eventually sulfuric acid in the presence of water. That would be my guess.

Glen Davidson

Actually you probably have something there, but I suspect it isn’t the intrinsic sulfur in natural gas but the sulfur containing compound mercaptan that is added to natural gas to make it smell bad. I suspect the levels of mercaptan added to natural gas are much higher than intrinsic sulfur containing impurities, but I could be wrong.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Robert,

If you know that “I” should be capitalized, why didn’t you do that?

As for your other incoherent nonsense, just answer three questions:

1) What process was responsible for the structure that formed under the vent?

2) What process was responsible for the formation of similar looking structures in caves?

3) Now do you see why your statements are pure nonsense?

j. biggs said:

Glenn Davidson said:

Carl Drews said:

Chemistry!

Hypothesis: The exhaust vapor and condensate is acidic for the same reason that the oceans are becoming more acidic in the presence of greater atmospheric CO2. Can a real chemist verify this?

CO2 is a worry for the oceans, but carbonic acid is hardly a very strong acid in the sense of worrying about damage to the usual construction and technology materials humans use–or to human flesh.

Natural gas is stripped of high levels of sulfur, but I wonder if there isn’t still enough for make sulfur oxides, and eventually sulfuric acid in the presence of water. That would be my guess.

Glen Davidson

Actually you probably have something there, but I suspect it isn’t the intrinsic sulfur in natural gas but the sulfur containing compound mercaptan that is added to natural gas to make it smell bad. I suspect the levels of mercaptan added to natural gas are much higher than intrinsic sulfur containing impurities, but I could be wrong.

“Mercaptan” is not a real compound; you mean methane thiol.

KlausH said:

j. biggs said:

Glenn Davidson said:

Carl Drews said:

Chemistry!

Hypothesis: The exhaust vapor and condensate is acidic for the same reason that the oceans are becoming more acidic in the presence of greater atmospheric CO2. Can a real chemist verify this?

CO2 is a worry for the oceans, but carbonic acid is hardly a very strong acid in the sense of worrying about damage to the usual construction and technology materials humans use–or to human flesh.

Natural gas is stripped of high levels of sulfur, but I wonder if there isn’t still enough for make sulfur oxides, and eventually sulfuric acid in the presence of water. That would be my guess.

Glen Davidson

Actually you probably have something there, but I suspect it isn’t the intrinsic sulfur in natural gas but the sulfur containing compound mercaptan that is added to natural gas to make it smell bad. I suspect the levels of mercaptan added to natural gas are much higher than intrinsic sulfur containing impurities, but I could be wrong.

“Mercaptan” is not a real compound; you mean methane thiol.

Yes, I am aware hence why I linked to the wiki article methanethiol. Typically when used as a noisome additive to methane gas it is referred to as methyl mercaptan or just mercaptan. I suppose you are more accurate but I would like to point out that what I said is the semantic equivalent of referring to ethanol as alcohol.

That and I suppose I should have called it a sulfur containing mercaptan compound rather than, “the sulfur containing compound mercaptan”. Like I said, I could be wrong.

Many years ago when I lived in northern Oklahoma we had an ice storm that lasted several days. The streets were turned into sheets of ice, almost completely frictionless. If you tried to walk on pavement covered with two inches of clear, slick ice, you just moved your feet and didn’t go anywhere. A very interesting experience.

However, the back yard was fascinating. We had some long grass, like cane grass, that acquired enough ice that they looked like elephant tusks sticking out of the ground. I remember breaking them off and using a magnifying lens to show my kids the ice rings that formed the tusks. As I recall they were more interested in eating the ice.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on December 9, 2013 12:00 PM.

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