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The Down And Dirty On Furnace Puff Backs

The Down and Dirty on Furnace Puff Backs

An oily, sooty property nightmare.

As the cold weather heating season begins after weeks of unseasonably warm weather and rain, it’s time to turn our attention to the prevention of furnace puff backs—a property disaster that can spread oily soot throughout every corner of your home.

What’s a Puff Back?

Furnace “puff backs” usually occur during cold weather and can create a mess and smell that can permeate your entire home. A puff back is a misfiring in an oil burning furnace that can send soot throughout your home, covering drapes, bedding, furniture, cabinets, walls, and everything in between.  It requires expensive cleaning and restoration in addition to repairs on your heating system.  The consequences are severe, but you can work to prevent it.

What Kind of Damage Can it Cause?

When a furnace puffs back, oil-based soot can go everywhere. The soot can be so heavy, it can even force you out of your home in some cases.  This type of soot is not just a powder-like substance, but is black and sticky and will include a mixture of oil that is difficult to clean.  And this type of residue needs to be PROFESSIONALLY cleaned as soon as possible! In addition to the soot, a puff back causes a foul odor to permeate your home.

So What Should You Do if You Experience a Puff Back?

  1. Assess the situation and the amount of damage that was done.
  2. Contact your insurance company to report a property damage claim.
  3. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DO THE CLEANING YOURSELF! Contact a professional cleaning service, like Single Source. We are puff back (soot) cleaning specialists and will thoroughly clean and deodorize all affected items and surfaces.
  4. Call a repairman to fix the malfunctioning oil furnace

How to Prevent a Puff Back

What’s the most effective step you can take to prevent furnace puff backs? Schedule to have your oil-burning furnace serviced and cleaned by an expert every year. The service person will inspect your furnace for potential problems, while cleaning and preventing the buildup of soot, dust, and any other kind of grime. You can further prevent problems from developing by always watching for signs of soot or odd smells, inspecting your furnace for oil leaks, and checking flues and vents for debris. If you ever become suspicious that your furnace might be malfunctioning, don’t hesitate to call in professionals to make sure everything is working as it should be.

Will my Insurance Cover Puff Back Damage?

Your homeowner’s policy will usually cover damage to your home and contents caused by a puff back. However, the cost to repair the furnace would most likely not be covered as it is most likely a maintenance issue. The cost of hiring a professional cleaning company and other related expenses would be covered as part of the claim and are subject to the policy deductible. If you have any questions on puff backs or how your policy will respond, call Single Source at 401-274-4444 or 508-822-0002.  Wishing you all a warm and happy heating season!

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