Preparing for Puff Backs

Home » Blog » Blog » Preparing for Puff Backs

This year the groundhog has said spring is on its way, but we still have the remains of some of that cold winter weather. While our heaters are on for these last few weeks of winter, there is still a chance for puff backs to occur!

What is a Puff Back?
Puff backs occurs when an oil burner backfires–sending soot throughout your home or business. It can happen all at once (like a balloon popping) or more gradually (as if someone was holding the end of a balloon and letting the air seep out slowly).

Recognizing Puff Backs
It is usually easy to tell when a puff back has occurred. Soot covers all areas of the home or business and may range from light to very heavy. Sometimes the disbursement of soot is so light and fine it appears to be ordinary dust. This “dust” however reappears hours after being cleaned. There is often a strong odor of oil accompanying a puff back.

What to Avoid

  • Avoid touching things. Soot on your hands can permeate upholstery, walls, and woodwork, causing further damage.
  • You should not try to clean carpets and upholstered furniture. Incorrect cleaning will compound the soot residue problem.
  • Avoid using a wet rag and some household cleaners on walls hard surfaces. Special cleaning products need to be used to ensure the odor and residue will be completely removed.
  • Soot can also damage your clothing. A simple washing will not get your clothing completely clean. They should be sent to a professional restoration dry cleaning company


How to Respond

  • Notify your insurance agent or company immediately.
  • Call a professional to begin cleaning all affected areas immediately – soot travels and will reappear if not immediately removed.


Preventing Puff Backs
The best defense against a puff back is to have your oil burner inspected annually and kept in good repair.  Also, be sure to keep the area around your heater free of debris.This is no guarantee against having a puff back, but it greatly reduces your risk

in Blog, Commercial Tips, Residential Tips by ServiceMaster

Leave a Comment

  • Blog
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • YouTube