Puff Back


What is a puff back you ask? It’s not something that is soft and cuddly, that is for sure… it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s dirty, dingy and a real pain to clean up. Incomplete combustion of oil fired furnaces that begin operating at the beginning of the winter season can cause an effect that is commonly known in the industry as a “puff back”.

What is the cause of incomplete combustion in oil fired furnaces? Usually a faulty ignition switch.

When the ignition fails to light properly, oil fumes accumulate in the chamber of the furnace. If stalled long enough, these fumes will cause a small explosion when the pilot light finally ignites. This mini explosion will blow every little piece of dust and soot in your baseboard heating system or duct system all over EVERYTHING in your home. Drapes, blinds, furniture, bedding, clothing, floors, carpets, dishes, appliances, etc.

Soot is a powder like substance and is black and sticky. You cannot clean soot with a regular sponge, towel, paper towel, etc. The cleaning of soot requires special sponges and cleaning products that are used by professionals. In addition to this stick sooty mess, an odor will also be present which is similar to that of an oil smell. This odor is difficult to remove and requires the services of a professional to remove as well. A professional certified home restoration company such as Branch Services is experienced with handling puff back situations for over 25 years. A puff back can occur in large proportion such as the situation just mentioned or in small proportion, over a period of time. If you notice black soot accumulating on carpet around heating vents or baseboard, or on surfaces inside your home, chances are you are experiencing a small scale puff back.