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What You Need to Know About Puff-Backs

What You Need to Know About Puff-Backs

Puff-backs occur when your furnace backfires and shoots out smoke and soot into your home. Depending on the severity of the malfunction, the outcome of a puff-back can range from a dirty ceiling to a ruined heating system. If your furnace is expelling smoke or soot every time you turn it on, you may want to consider contacting a furnace repair expert as well as a professional cleaner to remove all traces of chemicals from your home and belongings.  

24/7 Restoration is your Calgary resource for all your cleaning and restoration needs. Our smoke and fire damage contractors are efficient and affordable, quickly wiping out all smoke and soot marks from furnace puff-backs in your home and restoring it to its previous state using only the safest cleaners. 

What Are Puff-backs? 

Puff-backs are expelled soot and smoke from malfunctioning furnaces. They occur when undissipated fuel left in the combustion chamber is ignited upon starting the furnace. Puff-backs from a forced air heating system can be extremely annoying to deal with, as the ductwork allows the soot and smoke to travel everywhere in the home. In addition to being a clean home’s worst nightmare, puff-backs can also be dangerous to the heating system. 

Causes Of Puff-Backs

Puff-backs are caused by the ignition of accumulated fuel in the combustion chamber. Reasons that may lead unburned fuel to accumulate include:

Leaks in the oil supply piping: Leaks in the oil supply piping create air bubbles that push unburned oil into the combustion chamber. 

Furnace shutdown problems: When the furnace shuts down, the valve that is normally supposed to cut all flow of oil malfunctions. This may cause leftover oil to leak into the combustion chamber. 

Clogged or damaged system: A clogged or damaged furnace may struggle with properly managing the flow of oil inside or burning all the fuel in the combustion chamber. 

Chimney problems: A chimney that is too short may not have enough draft to expel the soot and smoke outside of the home一ejecting it into the living spaces instead. 

How To Prevent Puff-Backs?

Your furnace is likely to show signs before it begins producing puff-backs. Recognizing these indicators allows you to take necessary maintenance actions, saving you repair and cleaning costs later. Signs to look out for include:

Oil leaks: Visible oil stains around the oil supply line are a common indication that a puff-back may occur. 

Loud starts: A small “bang” upon starting up the furnace may indicate unburned fuel being lit up in the combustion chamber. 

Noise after shutoff: Rumbling sounds after shutting the furnace down may indicate leaking oil into the combustion chamber. 

Strange odours:  A burning odour may be a warning that your furnace is not combusting properly. 

How To Deal With Puff-Backs?

In the event of a severe puff-back that coats your entire home in soot, you may want to enlist a professional home restoration company to help you undo the damage. Cleaning the soot by yourself without the proper equipment and tools can be dangerous, as the substance is a known carcinogenic agent. Furthermore, soot is not easy to thoroughly clean; simply vacuuming the floor and wiping it off from the walls is not enough. Traces of chemicals are likely to remain. 

A home restoration company can help you get rid of the soot from your home for good. A professional can apply the proper cleaning techniques to remove all traces of soot that have accumulated in your fabrics and carpets. 

As for your malfunctioning furnace, 24/7 Restoration can leverage its trade network to contract a trusted third-party specialist to repair it in conjunction with our restorations services so you can get back to living comfortably in your home sooner.  

Soot And Smoke Cleanup in Calgary 

Puff-backs can be expensive and troublesome to resolve; if the furnace is not repaired or replaced, puff-backs will continue. A home restoration or cleanup company can make sure puff-backs will never cause you any problem in your home again. Here is how our restoration team tackles a puff-back issue:

  • Thoroughly remove soot and smoke from all surfaces using specialized cleaning equipment and professional cleaning techniques 
  • Sub-contact a trusted third-party specialist to diagnose, repair, or replace your furnace.

If you are dealing with puff-backs in Calgary, 24/7 Restoration’’s home cleanup team is here to help. Not only do professionals have the training and tools to restore your home from top to bottom, but our 24/7 hotline means that you do not have to wait to address your restoration needs. And we leverage our expert network of specialized contractors to provide comprehensive and responsive service. Call us at 1-403-247-4365 or fill out the online contact form right now to get help for your puff-back or other smoke and fire related problems. 


Q: Are puff backs covered by insurance? 
A: There is a chance your insurance provider covers damage from puff-backs. Call your insurance provider to confirm. Note, however, that if your insurance provider does cover puff-back damage, cleaning the soot and smoke yourself may void the coverage. 

Q: How can I prevent puff-backs from occuring in the future?
A: Yearly furnace maintenance can be an effective way of minimizing puff-back occurrences in the future. Additionally, look out for telltale signs that may indicate a puff-back is imminent, such as leaking oil and loud starting noises. 

Q: Are puff-backs dangerous?
A: Puff-backs are unlikely to pose a direct danger when they occur. However, living in a home covered in carcinogenic agents can be unhealthy. This is also why you should call a home restoration company as soon as possible and not attempt the cleanup by yourself. 

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