What is Puff Back?

A puff back is an explosion of soot that occur when an oil-fired boiler or heater malfunctions. Unburned oil accumulated in the combustion chamber ignites unexpectedly, causing the oil burner to backfire; this backfire is known as a puff back. It expels soot through the exhaust into the premises.

A major puff back, accompanied by an explosion, can result in the walls, ceiling, and the interiors of a room getting covered with stubborn soot. Puff backs can also happen as small events leading to regular deposits of soot in a house. These deposits accumulate on carpets, ceilings, upholstery, and appliances.

A gas furnace puff bac is less likely to occur because gas is lighter, disperses quickly, and does not accumulate like how oil does. Moreover, oil puff backs cause more damage that are difficult to remedy.


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The extent of damage caused by a puffback depends on the amount of fuel that gets ignited and the underlying cause. The spread of soot is influenced by the layout of the premises, the routing of the HVAC system, and how the heating system is connected to the building.

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What are the Common Causes of an Oil Furnace Puff Back?

The following are the most common causes of puff backs


Leaks in the oil supply pipe can push external air into the heating area when the burner is switched on. When the burner is switched off, the air can push unburnt oil into the combustion chamber. This accumulated oil can lead to a sudden and huge puff back.


In a malfunctioning heater, the flow of oil into the combustion chamber continues even after shutdown. This malfunction may occur due to dirt preventing the required valve from stopping the flow of oil.


A clogged oil spray nozzle will not direct oil in a sustained manner into the combustion chamber. This can lead to a pooling of the fuel in the combustion chamber. The accumulated unburnt or partially burnt fuel will ignite sooner or later. The explosive force of the puff back from such ignitions can cause the soot to really spread around.


It is possible that faulty and incorrect installation could be the reason behind a puff back. A short chimney that restricts airflow into the heater and a faulty burner that releases soot every time it is ignited are two examples.


A flame rollout resulting from poor combustion gas venting can damage other parts of the furnace and result in fuel accumulation that ultimately leads to a puff back.

What Exactly Does Puff Back Damage Do?

Puff back damage is bad because soot is harmful to inhale; it contains carcinogens. Once soot accumulates, it is difficult to remove. The time and costs involved are avoidable. Puff backs in forced-air heating systems are more damaging because the spread-out ductwork can deposit the soot to all parts of a building, including closets in a room. Soot does not travel as efficiently in a water-based heating system as it does in an oil-based one, and thus its spread is limited.

The smoke and soot released from a regular or sudden puff back oil burner event cling to everything in a room that it reaches. Ungainly streaks of smoke on walls are a poor advertisement for any commercial establishment and can drag down the market value of a property that you may wish to put on sale. Soot mixed with oil can damage appliances and ruin the aesthetics of a place.

A severe puff back may damage the heating flue vent connector and also the boiler. A damaged or burst flue vent connector places the premises at risk of fire because combustible gases and sparks may leak from it.

How does Puff Back Cleaning Work?

Certified technicians from 911 Flood of Long Island clean and restore a property that has suffered puff back oil furnace damage. We use appropriate and highly effective cleaning agents to clear off the films and streaks of soot and smoke from a property. Homeowners can expect the walls, ceilings, carpets, floor, and upholstery to be clean of grime and free from odor.

Our expertise and guidance also help property owners file puff back insurance claims such that the claims have a higher chance of fair and quick reimbursement.

How to Avoid Furnace Puff Back?

A little due diligence is all that it takes to prevent an oil furnace puff back. You must ensure that all the oil-burning appliances at home are serviced annually. Expert technicians from 911 Flood of Long Island can execute a thorough cleaning. Tell-tale signs that your furnace requires cleaning and services include soot, rust, and detritus collecting in the flue vent connector.

You should call oil burner puff bac cleaning experts if you detect odors, unfamiliar sounds, and soot accumulation near the boiler. Sites of oil leaks in the pipelines can also leak air and soot.