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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Puff Back? What's That?

2/1/2017 (Permalink)

Furnace 'puff backs' occur most often in the winter. A puff back is a misfiring of your furnace that can send soot throughout your home, covering furniture, cabinets, walls, linens and everything in between. The consequences can be severe but SERVPRO of Muskegon & Holland/W. Ottawa Co. can work closely with you in the cleaning and restoration of your home or business.

How Does a Puff Back Occur?

A puff back happens when an oil burner doesn't ignite immediately and oil fumes are allowed to build up resulting in an explosion similar to the backfiring of a car. The explosion can shoot soot and debris through the furnace or boiler's exhaust system throughout your home.

The 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. The first thing you should do is contact your insurance company to start a claim, which will usually cover your home and contents affected by the puff back (calling your insurance carrier should always be the first step to see if you have coverage. Understanding your coverage should be a high priority for any home or business owner).

What Should You Do?

Here are some helpful tips on what you should do, should a puff back occur in your home: 

  • Assess the situation and the amount of damage that was done.
  • Wash all affected clothing and fabrics in the house - some may require professional cleaning.
  • Throw away all exposed foods.
  • Call a repairman to fix the malfunctioning furnace.
  • Call SERVPRO of Muskegon & Holland/W. Ottawa Co. to take care of the cleaning of the soot and chemicals.

We will work closely with you, your insurance agency and your adjuster to ensure that the job is done as quickly as possible to get you back to your normal, daily routine.

How to Prevent Puff Backs

  • There are a few steps you can take to prevent puff backs:
  • Keep your oil heating system free of dust
  • Inspect and service your heating system yearly
  • If you hear noises or see soot near your furnace, call your heating company

Your homeowners policy will usually cover damage to your home 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. If a puff back occurs, we recommend that you do not attempt to clean it yourself. Using standard cleaning products could cause further damage and may not get rid of the oil residue and odors. The cost of hiring SERVPRO of Muskegon & Holland/W. Ottawa Co. and other related expenses would be covered as part of the claim and are subject to the policy deductible.

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