Preventing Furnace Puff Back

January 25, 2012 at 9:15 AM | Posted in Home, Safety Tips | Leave a comment
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If you have ever experienced an oil burner furnace puff back, you know how expensive and disruptive they can be. If you have never experienced one, you are lucky! A furnace puff back can spread soot throughout your home and require costly repairs to your furnace.

A puff back happens when an oil burner doesn’t ignite correctly and oil vapors build up in the chamber before ignition. This results in a small explosion within the oil burner similar to a car back firing. Although the explosion is usually not big enough to destroy the furnace, it is enough to send soot throughout the heating ducts in your home if you have a forced hot air system.

It can occur within a forced hot water system as well, but the soot damage is usually confined to the area surrounding the furnace. The puff back can be a sudden occurrence or it can be a re-occurring problem sending small amounts of soot into the system each time the furnace ignites. Either way, the soot can cover your walls, ceilings, and personal belongings, which requires extensive clean up.

In order to prevent a puff back from happening you should:

  • Perform routine maintenance and annual checkups on your oil burner – any noises during the startup or shutdown of your heating system could be warning signs.
  • Make sure your oil burner doesn’t have any debris, animal hair, or other particles around it causing it to malfunction.
  • Install Carbon Dioxide Monitors in your house.
  • Check for traces of soot in and around your house.

Insurance should cover most of the clean up costs that could easily reach thousands of dollars. Preventing the puff back in the first place is the key.


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