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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

10 Tips to Avoid a Furnace Puff Back in Your Mercer County, PA Home

11/2/2023 (Permalink)

Heating season is upon us in central NJ, which has us firing up our furnace after many months of being idle. 

Generally turning on the heat is a non-event, but sometimes a malfunctioning or dirty heating unit inside your furnace creates a “puff back”.  A puff back is the puff of smoke or oily soot from a malfunctioning heating unit. This oily dust particles settles everywhere.  Puff backs can cause minor inconveniences or sever property damage to your property and heating system.

The soot residue from a puff back has different binders. It is bound by hot oils that burst out of the house registers, leaving oily soot everywhere.

Here are 10 Important Tips to Avoid this happening to your home or business.

  1. Regular Maintenance: The best way to prevent puff backs is through regular furnace maintenance. Schedule annual inspections and cleanings with a qualified HVAC technician.
  2. Check for Leaks: Inspect the fuel lines and connections for any signs of leakage. If you smell gas or oil contact a professional.
  3. Maintain Proper Airflow: Ensure that your furnace yas adequate ventilation. Clean or replace filters regularly, and make sure vents and flues are unobstructed.  Restricted airflow can lead to incomplete combustion and increase the risk of puff backs.
  4. Burner Inspection: Regularly inspect and clean the burner, ensuring it’s free from soot, debris and other contaminants. A clean burner is less likely to experience puff backs.
  5. Install an Oil Accumulator: An oil accumulator can help prevent puff backs by storing excess oil.  This prevents unburned oil from entering the combustion chamber during start-up.
  6. Upgrade to a Modern System: If you have an older furnace, consider upgrading to a more efficient, safer model. Newer furnaces often have better safety features and improved combustion processes.
  7. Maintain a Clean Chimney: If you have a chimney, ensure it’s clean and free from obstructions. A blocked chimney can lead to poor ventilation and increased risk of puff backs.
  8. Use High-Quality Fuel: Ensure you are using clean, high-quality fuel. Poor-quality, contaminated fuel can lead to puff backs.
  9. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Puff backs can release carbon monoxide (CO) into your home which is extremely dangerous.
  10. Professional Inspection: If you have experienced a puff back, it’s essential to have a professional inspect and clean your furnace thoroughly. They can identify and address and underlying issues that may have caused the puff back.

SERVPRO of Bordentown/Pemberton is ready to clean the oily soot or smoke residue "Like it never even happened." Our techs always wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including respirators, during this cleanup job.  We offer fast, reliable remediation and restoration services for commercial and residential property owners and tenants.  Call today for a free estimate at (609) 894-8555.

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