Friday, September 19, 2014

Preventing Puff Backs

By: Edward L. Blais, JD, CIC

It’s inevitable - colder days are coming.  Although winter isn’t on the horizon just yet, we at Blais Insurance always have your best interest at heart and want to make sure that you are ready and prepared.

As heating your home soon becomes a necessity, many will be turning to furnaces or wood stoves to keep warm. However, if not maintained these heat sources can create some unfortunate occurrences known as puff backs.  Frustrating as they may be, puff backs are preventable. 

Below you will find the basic facts and ways you can avoid these hassles and stay warm without worry:  

What are puff backs?

A puff back is a dirty and potentially dangerous event in which smoke and soot are released from a furnace, often resulting in oily black clumps of soot being distributed throughout the house. These occurrences create a foul odor and are quite difficult to clean.

How do they occur?

Puff backs occur when the furnace does not ignite properly due to a buildup of oil fumes and debris.  This faulty trigger sets off an explosion in which soot and other debris are sent through the exhaust system and then into the heating system vents.

How can I prevent puff backs?

The most effective form of prevention is inspecting and performing regular maintenance on your furnace to keep it in proper working condition.  This can include checking for oil leaks and paying close attention to any odd scents.   Be sure to keep the area clean of debris, hair and other particles that could ignite an issue.

What do I do if a puff back occurs?

In the instance that a puff back occurs, immediately turn your furnace off.  From there, we suggest following this checklist for optimal clean-up:

    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
    Locate a puff back specialist as they will be able to thoroughly clean and deodorize all affected items and surfaces.

Typically, your current homeowners policy will cover damage to your home and contents caused by a puff back. However if a puff back occurs, we recommend that you do not attempt to clean it yourself, as you could cause more unnecessary damage. Call us today at 725-0070 for more information and to ensure that you are properly covered.