When a furnace misfires, it releases a puff of black, grimy soot or blackened smoke. Unburned oils and gases build up inside the furnace combustion chamber as a result of a furnace failing to ignite correctly. Once the furnace finally ignites, this combination of oil and gas vapors explodes, causing the dangerous phenomenon known as a furnace puffback.
Oil furnaces are more inclined to undergo puffback situations, since oil has the tendency to accumulate rather than disperse (like gas); however, gas furnaces are also vulnerable to puffback explosions. Oil furnaces also produce significantly more soot than gas furnaces, leading to sticky, unsightly black residue requiring professional cleanup.
A homeowner who sees the results of a puffback will have a chaotic scene to clean up. The soot emitted from furnaces is incredibly sticky, black and oily. The residue may impact the entire home. In extreme situations, homeowners may evacuate their property for a period until the puffback mess is cleaned up by fire and smoke damage restoration pros.
In order to properly clean up a puffback mess, it is important that homeowners are able to identify a puffback situation. A loud sound may erupt once the explosion occurs. Smoke may emerge from the vents.
Residue from a puffback explosion has a petroleum base. The black, oily film adheres to every surrounding surface, including furniture, fabrics, clothing and any exposed goods. The sheer force of the explosion can blow the soot particles underneath doors and into closed spaces, like drawers. Puffbacks can also meander through the home’s ductwork and infiltrate every inch of the home.