Furnace puff backs

Fall has arrived and soon it will be time to turn on the furnace for the first time.  This is also when we see a significant increase in the number of furnace puff backs.  Puff backs occur for various reasons, but all result in combustion products including soot entering the conditioned air of the home or building. Some puff backs are caused by a sudden explosion, some by thermal fatigue cracks in the heat exchanger, or others by poor installation and maintenance. Whatever the reason, the end result is soot and other debris being pushed into the home, potentially causing significant damage to the structure and the contents within.

What to do if you have a puff back:

How do I know if I’ve had a puff back?

Determining whether or not a puff back has occurred is relatively easy for sudden major failures. Affected areas will have smoke in the air and rapid accumulation of soot on all surfaces. Some puff backs happen slowly, with the accompanying damage hard to observe.  In these cases you may observe that surfaces need to be cleaned often, or certain surfaces are darkening.  Cold surfaces generally accumulate more soot which can cause exterior surfaces to exhibit banding that corresponds to the framework behind the finished surfaces. Sometimes nail or screw heads will become visible.  Another sign is the appearance of dark cobweb like structures in corners.  These are not created by spiders, but by filaments of soot growing from the soot in the air.  Sometimes called “soot tags,” they are randomly arranged, unlike the order seen in a spider’s web.
How do I prevent a puff back from occurring?

 The single best way to prevent a puff back is to have your furnace inspected annually and kept in good repair. This is no guarantee against having a puff back, but it greatly reduces your risk. Keep debris, animal hair or anything that could interfere with proper functioning away from your furnace.

 

You should also follow these directions:

  • Immediately turn off your furnace and contact a furnace repair company.
  • Notify your insurance agent or insurance company.
  • Call a qualified disaster restoration company like Burke Emergency Restoration to begin cleaning all affected areas immediately – soot travels and will reappear if not immediately cleaned and removed.  Prolonged contact with soot can  cause irreversible damage to certain  surfaces.

 

What NOT to do:

  • Do not attempt to wash wallpapered or flat-painted walls. (incorrect cleaning will actually worsen the soot residue problem)
  • Do not try to clean carpets and upholstered furniture. Avoid touching things. (Soot on your hands can damage upholstery, walls and woodwork)

 

The professionals at Burke Emergency Restoration have the skill, certifications and experience to deal with furnace puff backs. We understand how devastating property damage can be, and our technicians are trained to deal with your property disaster with equal parts compassion and competence.

Whether it’s a puff back, fire & smoke, water damage, mold or biohazard cleanup you can rely on the professionals at Burke Emergency Restoration. We bring damaged properties back to life.™

Burke Emergency Restoration services Belknap, Merrimack, Strafford, Hillsborough and Rockingham counties in New Hampshire. We service Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts.

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