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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

A Brief Overview of Puff Back and Its Prevention

12/17/2020 (Permalink)

What Is Puff Back?

Puff back occurs as a consequence of improper ignition of a furnace. If the oil burner fails to ignite, the fumes start to build up in the furnace. The fumes can eventually cause explosions inside the burner chamber. This explosion results in vaporization and expelling of soot throughout the place.

If you are among those who know little on puff backs, consider yourself lucky. Puff back not only occurs in oil or gas furnaces, but also in water heating systems. However, it more commonly occurs in furnaces. Services that specialize in Puff Back Cleaning usually assess furnace first and take necessary steps. Aside from soot, puff back also produces strong odors and explosive sounds similar to a combustion engine’s backfire. The vibrations produced due to explosions cause the soot to become loose and spread throughout the property. Soon after, black smoke starts emitting from the vents, and makes your home appear as if it is on fire.

Warning Signs of Puff Back

One of the most effective ways to prevent a puff back is to know the warning signs. You can catch the problem with the furnace or heating system immediately if you know about the potential signs. Service for puff back cleaning suggests looking for specific symptoms that include:

  • One of the telltale signs is oil dripping from the area around the oil supply pipeline. Visible oil drops indicate that a puff back is about to happen. Drips may occur on the connectors or fittings along the pipes. It usually allows the air to enter while the system operates
  • A small bang or puffing sound while starting a furnace or heating system is a sign of possible puff back. It indicates that there is some amount of un burnt oil present, which keeps igniting in the chamber. If you do not address these small puff backs, they may lead to a serious issue later
  • Another indication of potential puff back or oil leakage is the vibration or rumbling sound after closing the furnace or boiler
  • You might notice the presence of soot on furnace room, ceilings or walls, which is an indication that the appliance is not working properly
  • A strange odor may arise from furnace due to non-ventilation of combustion gases. These gases buildup and eventually cause unexpected puff back

 What to Do If Puff Back Happens

The first step when an event of puff back happens is to shut the furnace or heating system immediately. If there is too much smoke, the chance of fire or carbon monoxide, then you had better call emergency service. You need to take some steps after ensuring the safety of your building. These steps include:

  • Take a picture of the event as evidence for an insurance company or emergency service
  • Call a professional puff back cleaning company. They can assess the situation and recommend the necessary steps to make the heating system operational again. They have professional ways to clean the premises of smoke and soot
  • Clean your furniture and other belongings. You might need to have your clothes, curtains and different fabric dry-cleaned. Dispose of any food that you feel contaminated

Preventing Puff Backs

You can prevent puff backs from happening by taking necessary precautions and noticing warning signs. Home or business owners that have oil, gas furnaces or water heaters know the warning signs to notice potential puff backs. If you feel like the system is not working correctly, call your repair service to address the appliance promptly. You can also prevent a puff back by taking few ways in consideration that includes:

  • Notice the warning signs like oil leaks, loud noises on startup or shutting, production of too much soot or strange odors
  • Call repair service if you happen to notice any signs or professional restoration company if the events happen
  • Have your heating service regularly inspected and maintained

Do Not Try to Clean by Yourself

Having a technician fix the problem in the event of puff back is easy; the following cleanup is a tough factor. Puff back cleaning is a challenge that you should not take on your own. Cleaning is not about removing dust and dirt as the soot present is sticky and difficult to remove. It needs a particular method and material, or else it results in corrosion due to reactive chemicals. Soot released due to puff back covers a large area and is something tough to remove. Professional restoration companies use selected chemicals and techniques to remove the soot and odor without compromising the living conditions.

Final Word

Puff back is a nightmare for homeowners that can happen anytime if you do not remain vigilant. Professional puff back cleaning companies are your best solution in such an event as DIY cleaning will do more harm than good. Keep the warning signs in the notice to prevent any potential puff back event or call a repair service for immediate action.

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