Not too many people know what Puff Back is and if you’re one of those people, consider yourself lucky! Whether you have a hot water heating system, gas furnace, or oil furnace in your home or business, there’s always a chance for puff back. However, it is most common with an oil furnace heating system. Puff Back is a sudden combustion of smoke and soot emitted from a heating unit, resulting in a cloud of black, greasy petroleum-based gunk. Additionally, a puff back produces a strong odor and an explosive sound similar to the backfire of a car. The vibration allows soot within the furnace to become loose and enter your property. Smoke will come out of the vents, and your home may be splattered with black goo, making it look as though it has been scorched by flames. If the puff back is powerful enough, it can not only damage your furnace but also your home.
What Causes Puff Back?
Puff Backs are caused by problems with the furnace, which leave oil in the ignition chamber that doesn’t get burned. This can be caused by leaks in the oil system, bubbles in the oil line which expand and press oil out of the oil burner nozzle, the shutdown valve on the oil burner nozzle not working properly or a clog in the nozzle. Each of these problems can result in oil leaking out of the nozzle and into the combustion chamber when it isn’t in operation. Oil will accumulate in the chamber until it finally ignites with a puff back explosion. The explosion blows soot and other debris through the furnace’s exhaust system and into the heating system, which carries it into the house. If the furnace is connected to a forced air heating system, the ducts can carry the Puff Back to every room of the house with an open vent.
What Are the Warning Signs?
Most oil-burning furnaces in danger of having a puff back give off warning signs that should indicate a problem with the furnace. Black soot on the furnace, walls or ceiling indicate that oil is burning improperly in the furnace and is leaking out of the unit. Noises such as those made by the combustion chamber while it is burning may continue after the furnace has stopped, indicating that something is still burning within the furnace even though it shouldn’t be. Noises at the beginning of the burn cycle, such as a puff or bang, also indicate that unburned oil has pooled and ignited. Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent a puff back, but annual inspection and maintenance of your oil burner or furnace can greatly reduce your risk.
Cleaning Up the Mess is Not a Job for an Amateur
Having a repairman fix the malfunctioning heating system is the easy part. The aftermath is usually the main problem. Cleaning up is a challenging process, and it’s not something you should undertake on your own. We’re not talking about dust or another fine, powdery substance. Soot from furnaces is dirty, sticky and very difficult to remove from any surface. This complex composition of materials results in corrosive properties. Whatever item, material, or surface it lays on will slowly deteriorate over time. Items made of metal will tarnish and corrode, walls will discolor, and glass or mirror-like materials will etch.
Soot can cover an enormous area after being released in a furnace Puff Back. It gets everywhere. It can even spread through the duct work into every corner of your home, including inside closets, behind closed doors, and inside drawers. This is something that is extremely difficult to DIY, because you could be doing more harm than good. Professional Restoration companies use special techniques and cleaning materials to properly remove the residual soot, stains and odors. This is when you call Xtreme Home Improvement.
Puff Back Cleaning Process
Our puff back cleanup process includes an array of proven and effective methods and our technicians are specially trained to take on the whole-house cleaning and deodorizing work. We will ensure that your home or business is returned to its original, soot-free condition minus the odor.
Our superior cleanup and removal service includes:
- Inspection and damage assessment. Photographs and measurements will be taken during this phase.
- Placement of HEPA air scrubbers and hydroxyls to begin soot and odor mitigation.
- Remove soot residue from all structural surfaces including floors, walls, ceilings, windows, etc.
- Deodorize the carpets and curtains before they are cleaned.
- Clean and decontaminate soft goods, such as clothing, bedding, furniture, etc.
- Air duct cleaning and sanitation for soot and odor.
- Discuss any necessary rebuild solutions such as cabinetry, carpeting, flooring, framing, painting, etc.
Local business advantage – is a reassuring benefit of working with our team of experts. In an industry littered with national franchises, it’s refreshing to count on a full-service provider committed to our local communities. Your insurance company may recommend a franchised “box-store” but you have the right as an insurance policy owner to hire the company that you’re comfortable with, is the most professional, knowledgeable, thorough and takes the most pride in their work. You can rely on Xtreme Home Improvement to be that company. You’ll feel relieved knowing that the work will be handled with professional care and your entire home will be restored back to its ideal squeaky-clean status in no time.