FLAME Blog

What is a Furnace or Boiler Puffback?

You don't want your beautiful home damaged by a puffback.

As we move into November it feels like we are truly at the start of heating season.  If you haven’t done so already, many of you will be flipping on your furnaces or boilers hoping to heat your home.  You may also be crossing your fingers that they will work without a hitch.  It’s true that after not being used for a few months, there are a few potential problems that can occur, but most are easily remedied.  Unfortunately, you may find yourself with a problem that is not as easily fixed, and it can also create a big mess in your home:  a puffback.

Furnace and boiler puffbacks can occur with both gas and oil appliances.  A puffback happens when the furnace or boiler doesn’t ignite the right way at first, so unburned gas and oil accumulates up in the combustion chamber.  Then, when the system does ignite…puffback.  These puffbacks can cover your furnace with gas or oil and soot.  If you have a forced air system that gas/oil and soot can travel via the ducts throughout your whole home.  According to Hunker this can require “…extensive cleaning and sometimes professional restoration to clean up.”  Additionally, puffbacks can also be dangerous.

Puffbacks are much more likely to occur in oil furnaces than gas ones.  Matt Livingston points out, “Oil furnaces and boilers require more maintenance than their gas-fired counterparts, presenting more opportunities for the ignition process to be hindered if the system is not properly maintained” (PropertyCasualty360).

One of the best ways to prevent this from happening in your home is by having your heating system inspected annually.  You can also look out for some puffback warning signs: soot or debris on or around your furnace or boiler, soot stains on the ceilings or walls around your furnace or boiler, and rumbling sounds coming from your heating system after each cycle ends and banging sounds when each cycle begins.

If you are noticing any of these warning signs, contact professionals such as those at Flame immediately.  Also, contact us if you would like to schedule an annual heating inspection.

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