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What Is A Furnace Puff Back?

9/20/2021 (Permalink)

A Furnace Puff Back is Something You Don't Know About Until it Happens (but - it's not too late).

If you use an oil furnace, it’s important to know about the risk of puff backs. Essentially, furnace puff backs occur when burners do not ignite on start-up, causing excess oil fumes to combust. This reaction produces a great deal of smoke that causes soot to spread throughout the house.

When this happens, SERVPRO of Cape May  & Cumberland Counties recommends acting fast to protect your health and your belongings from smoke damage. To help you stay prepared, we highlight a few do’s and don’ts to follow when you experience a furnace puff back:


Protect your belongings.

Soot can spread quickly, so you’ll need to act fast to keep it from setting on your belongings. If you have a forced air system, tape cheesecloth over the vents to help keep particles from coming through the ducts. You can also place towels over carpets, rugs, and upholstery to provide a protective barrier.

Review your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Since it takes special tools and experience to properly clean smoke damage, you’ll need to call a residential restoration service provider to clear your home of soot. But before you call, check your homeowner’s insurance policy, as most providers cover this kind of restoration.

Have your furnace inspected.

Although puff backs can be one-off events, the problem may have occurred due to a mechanical issue with the equipment. To prevent further puff backs, have a heating specialist inspect and repair your furnace.


Touch or breathe soot.

Soot can cause health effects when inhaled, as it contains a variety of toxic components and carcinogens. Limit movement and keep individuals out of the home until the problem is resolved. As you protect your belongings, cover your mouth and nose with a face mask. Additionally, throw away any exposed food.

Try to clean surfaces.

While it’s fine to take steps to shield items from smoke damage, you shouldn’t try to clean surfaces. Standard cleaning supplies will not remove soot and may only cause particles to settle in further. Instead, wait for a professional smoke and fire damage restoration team to clean the area.

Increase air circulation.

You may be tempted to turn on a fan or open windows to eliminate smoke, but increased air circulation will only spread particles. To keep the problem contained, try to keep airflow to a minimum.

When furnace puff backs occur, SERVPRO of Cape May & Cumberland Counties offers fast, thorough, and affordable restoration services. Equipped with specialized cleaning products, our Franchise Professionals minimize smoke damage in your home and eliminate stubborn odors. To request assistance, call 609-624-0202. We're here 24/7, 365!

SERVPRO of Cape May County serves Cape May, Ocean City, Wildwood and surrounding communities in Cape May County. SERVPRO of Cumberland County serves Bridgeton, Millville, Vineland and surrounding communities in Cumberland County.

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