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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Cleaning Up After a Furnace Puffback Requires Professional Equipment

4/19/2020 (Permalink)

Puffback of an oil furnace Puffback damage in a Burning Tree, OK property

Cleaning Up After a Furnace Puffback Requires Professional Equipment

While heating oil is an excellent fuel, using it does require annual furnace or boiler maintenance in Burning Tree, OK, to function properly and efficiently. The nozzle through which oil is sprayed must be replaced and components inspected to locate damaged parts and ensure correct timing. Failure to do so can lead to serious consequences, including

  • Voiding the warranty
  • A drastic drop in efficiency
  • Puffback damage

A Furnace Puffback Is a Serious Event
There are a few different potential causes of a puffback event. Typically, it’s far more common in an oil furnace, but may also rarely happen in a gas furnace, where it can very severely damage the burner.
Probably the most common cause is where the spark electrodes fail to ignite the oil. This, combined with poor maintenance, may cause the oil to pool at the bottom, and an intermittently functioning electrode may suddenly ignite this excess fuel. With an oil furnace, usually, the worst puffback damage is the expulsion of soot through the vents, especially with forced air systems.

Soot Isn’t Like Smoke or Dust
Smoke damage is bad enough, but soot is a special kind of substance. When different hydrocarbons, such as heating oil, gasoline or natural gas, fail to fully combust, they create a sticky, carbon-rich residue. It’s highly toxic and is a known carcinogen, which is one reason annual maintenance on a furnace is so important. During a puffback, soot blows throughout the house, coating everything it touches with a nasty layer of black debris.

Soot Can’t Be Cleaned With Ordinary Equipment
Trying to remove soot with ordinary household cleaners is worse than pointless – it usually causes even more damage. Instead of removing soot, wiping it just smears the oil, pushing it into any porous surface.
Fabrics, such as carpet and clothing, usually require chemical cleaning. The house can be so contaminated from puffback damage that it has to be evacuated until cleaned. In all cases, soot will require a professional cleaning company to bring in special equipment that will strip the soot away from surfaces, furniture, and fabrics.

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