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Prevent Soot From Your Oil Heater

Soothappens

When you hear that someone has suffered a puff back you may be reminded of the Peter, Paul and Mary song from the 1960's but when a puff back happens it is anything but magical. 

A puff back is a misfiring in the furnace that, at its worst, can send soot throughout your home, covering drapes, bedding, furniture, cabinets, walls, and everything in between.  It requires expensive cleaning and restoration in addition to repairs on your heating system.  The consequences are severe, but you can work to prevent it.

Puffback-Furnace

A puff back can happen when an oil burner doesn't ignite immediately and oil fumes are allowed to build up before ignition, resulting in an explosion similar to the backfiring of a car.  Buildup of debris can also create an excessive explosion at ignition.  In either case, the explosion can shoot soot and debris through the furnace or boiler's exhaust system and into your home.  If you have a forced air system (a hot air system as opposed to a hydronic, or hot water, system) the problem will likely be worse as the heating ducts can spread soot into every corner of your home, with the same efficiency that they spread heat.  A puff back can be a chronic problem, with each ignition sending forth a small amount of soot that slowly accumulates on heating vents, ceilings, carpets or baseboards, or it can be a single sudden event that sends a large amount of soot through the heating system.

Puffback outside homeSoot half cleaned hot tub

The partially cleaned hot tub above shows how soot can cover every surface of the home.

This discharge of soot points to an underlying problem with the heating system which will need to be repaired.  Hopefully the faulty piece will only be an inexpensive valve or filter and not a signal that the oil burner needs to be replaced.

What Should You Do?

It is quite amazing how much the soot can cover - it goes everywhere.  It can even force you out of your home in some cases.  This soot is not just a powder-like substance, but is black and sticky and will include a mixture of oil that is difficult to clean.  But this dirty residue needs to be cleaned as soon as possible.  Oil based soot is extremely difficult to remove.  In addition to the soot, a puff back causes a foul odor to permeate your home.  So what should you do?

  • Assess the situation and the amount of damage that was done
  • Wash all affected clothing and fabrics in the house - some may require professional dry cleaning
  • Throw away all exposed food
  • Call a repairman to fix the malfunctioning oil furnace
  • Call a cleaning service to take care of the soot and chemicals

And that's where you need a puff back specialist to thoroughly clean and deodorize all affected items and surfaces.  ServiceMaster Dynamic Cleaning has the equipment and the expertise to get you back to normal.  It's not magic, but you'll be glad you called!

To prevent puff backs, have your oil burner and furnace system cleaned regularly, but if the worst happens, call 1.800.865-5157 or Contact ServiceMaster Dynamic Cleaning and we'll be there to help.

What People Say

  • June 23, 2017- 10/10 for Fire Damage Restoration 

    "The men that cleaned never stop. They are extremely thorough. They are also very polite. I would recommend this company to everybody".

    Susan C. from Pawtucket, RI

  • May 28, 2017- 10/10 for Odor Removal Services

    "It makes the house smell new and really does work. I wasn't sure at first about spending that kind of money for cleaning the air but it is fantastic. I recommend it to anyone who needs their house to smell like new".

  • May 25, 2017- 10/10 for Water Damage Restoration 

    "They were very kind and caring. They did not make us rush, it was a very emotional time and they were absolutely amazing. I would highly recommend them to anybody that needs any type of restoration fire or water etc. We have

  • May 5, 2017- 10/10 for Water Damage Restoration 

    "The superior job they did cleaning, drying and disinfecting the entire area. The employees were professional and courteous".

    Vincent P. from Coventry, CT

  • May 1, 2017- 9/10 for Pipe Break Damage Restoration 

    "Very rapid, thorough and clean work was performed on this flooded residence. Communication with ServiceMaster Dynamic was excellent". 

    Michael M. from Leominster, MA

  • April 26, 2017- 9/10 for Water Damage Restoration

    "They tried to maximize protecting my floor, but acknowledged that more needed to be taken up".

    Alan E. from Westborough, MA

  • April 21, 2017- 10/10 for Water Damage Restoration 

    "Professional and friendly. The on-site manager was excellent!"

    Richard S. from Foxboro, MA

  • April 21, 2017- 10/10 for Water Damage Restoration

    "Prompt and professional".

    Lynn C. in North Attleboro, MA

  • April 9, 2017- 10/10 for Water Damage Restoration 

    "You were immediately here to provide expert advice and assistance and your crew worked very hard and answered all questions".

    Judy C. from Worcester, MA

  • March 20, 2017- 10/10 for Water Damage Restoration 

    "The techs were very profesional and did a great job".

    Steve O. from Lancaster, MA

  • March 18, 2017- 10/10 for Water Damage Restoration 

    "Very quick service and knowledgeable techs".

    David L. from Grafton, MA

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