How ADD and Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy made my home safer…

This year I moved into a new house. In the process of making it a home, we have been doing many upgrades and renovations. Which means I’m often doing things for the first time, and learning as I go. That said, not every idea, recommendation, or how-to is a good one.

Recently, on the advice of a chimney sweep, I extended the furnace pipe into the chimney. (It was just resting against the hole which could allow fumes to escape into the house.) I extended the furnace flu into the chimney, vacuumed out a half century and approx. 25 gallons of soot. I wager many homes have not had their chimneys cleaned in decades. [Everyone with an old furnace hooked into a chimney should check theirs as build up can lead to the release of carbon monoxide into a home.]

Now to the point. I thought I was doing right, in making sure to use the fire block version of Great Stuff expanding foam. Then Friday I saw an article on the proposed SLS rocket’s estimated $2 billion people launch. And thought that we’re doing this wrong – we should be assembling deep space launch vehicles in orbit. My ADD kicked in, and next thing I know I’m scouring Google and Wikipedia to find out what the Falcon Heavy’s LEO and trans-Mars Injection (is that TMI) capabilities are. Googling weights for kerosene and liquid Oxygen. There weight of Space X “Merlin” engines. [Hey Elon, when is Space X releasing the larger second generation “Gandalf” engines to get us to Ganymede?]

All to determine that the Falcon Heavy could in a handful of fights and less than half the cost to launch the SLS, bring components needed to assemble a solar system launch vehicle. Allowing deep space launches to be done from orbit, bypassing the heaviest of Earth’s atmosphere and gravity, potentially leading to even faster delivery than the SLS for less expenditure. But how to assemble those units into a singular unit that can withstand the structural stresses of acceleration? Cables can real the units into position. Struts can link. But to how to keep the weight down. “expanding insulation foam”.

So next my ADD had me googling the temperature of space walks (+/-250 degrees). And noting that the fire block foam was rated to only 240 degrees. Confident with some expenditure we could make a similar compound that could meet the needs of use in space. But while doing so, I learned that fire block foam should not be used in contact with sources that can potentially reach those temperatures. While the flu pipe really doesn’t tend to reach those temperatures it’s still advised not to use it for safety and does not meet code. Just last week we had a mechanical failure that resulted in the furnace not turning off at the proper temperature. This resulted in the water becoming super heated, massive pressure release of steam, and melting a few sections of foam insulation right off the radiator pipes. I realized this incident could of resulted in excessive heating of the flu pipe, potentially exceeding the 240 degree rating of the foam. This could lead to the foam combusting and potentially spreading flames to the wood structure above. While that didn’t happen, I’d rather be safe than sorry. So today I ripped the foam out. And acquired the materials to do it right – fire rated gasket, fire rated caulk (appropriate mortar can be utilized as well). I also removed the foamed in sheet metal at the flu clean out and installed a much more robust cover sans any foam. ALL because of the adventure of my mind’s ADD in this previous post below.

Thank you Elon. Thank you ADD.

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November 2019

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