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In the following guest blog post from Soil-Away Cleaning and Restoration Services, LLC, learn about what furnace puff backs are, what steps to take after one occurs, and how to prevent them in the future.

What is a Puff Back?

furnace puff backA puff back is a misfire or malfunction of an oil burning furnace. It sends soot throughout a home or business. The phenomenon can happen all at once (suddenly like a car backfiring) or over an extended period of time (a chronic problem that occurs with each system ignition). The property’s air ducting system will act as a conduit to distribute soot into every corner of the house or business. You will find an oily “dust” or soot covering your furniture, flooring, walls, picture frames, soft-contents, electronics, etc.

After a Puff Back:

Recovering from a puff back is no easy task, but can be manageable with the right actions. You need to get three parties involved immediately: heating contractor, insurance company, and a qualified disaster restoration company (Soil-Away). Contact your heating contractor to coordinate repairs. Confirm insurance claim coverage with your insurance company. Submit a claim for the cleaning. Contact Soil-Away to handle the cleaning and claim processing. Puff back cleaning is extensive and “do-it-yourselfers” WILL cause additional damage if attempting to clean it themselves. Leave the puff back cleaning to Soil-Away.

Can it be Prevented?

A puff back is never 100% preventable; however you can take a few steps to drastically reduce the probability of having one. The best advice is to keep your oil burner in good repair. You should schedule annual visits by a qualified heating contractor to inspect the entire system. Another defense is to keep the area clean around the oil burner. Continuously remove anything that could interfere with functionality of the system (dirt, debris, pet hair, etc.). You should also consult with your heating contractor to determine adequate oil levels for your tank. Dirt and debris build up at the bottom of oil tanks and low oil levels can result in clogging up the system.

Soil-Away is a full-service environmental and emergency restoration services company that specializes in restoring properties’ water, fire, smoke, odor damage to pre-loss condition. The company also provides mold removal and prevention solutions, HVAC duct cleaning, and furniture, carpet and area rug cleaning. For more information, call 603-641-6555, email, or visit