Puff Backs – What They Are, How to Deal With Them

The puff back.

Something you have perhaps never heard of . . . unless it’s happened to you.

Your home heating system operates with very little attention, but when something goes wrong, you may experience a puff back. Puff backs are essentially puffs of smoke that create black, greasy, sticky, oily messes in your home. When your furnace is working properly, it combines fuel and oxygen in set amounts for controlled combustion, maintaining a steady flame. When the balance is affected, a puff back occurs. A puff back is an explosion inside the furnace (or boiler) and such explosions are generally small. After an initial puff back, the burner will often start easily. However another puff back may occur which will cause much more damage. Puff backs may also happen with fire places when smoke comes back into the room rather than go up the chimney. Sticky soot and smoke will leave marks on your walls and ceilings.

While puff backs can be caused by a variety of things, a lack of maintenance or ignoring necessary repairs is the main cause. We at GW Savage cannot stress enough the importance to get your heating system (and fireplace) inspected at least once a year. Have the system cleaned and adjusted as necessary. It will save you the immense trouble of trying to clean the walls, ceilings, carpets, tile, furniture, and/or curtains. If you experience a puff back, we suggest a cleaning specialist so as to not create more of a mess — and at that, be sure to reach out to us!!