All About Oil Burner Puffbacks_ Possible Causes, Prevention & How to Clean
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Oil Burner Puffbacks

All About Oil Burner Puffbacks_ Possible Causes, Prevention & How to Clean

Whether you have gas furnace or oil furnace or boiler, oil burner puffbacks can and do happen! The puffback occurs whenever your boiler or furnace fails to ignite properly and allows gas vapors or oil vapors to build inside of the combustion/ignition chamber. Once the system finally ignites, all of the additional fuel in the chamber results in the spraying of a thick, oily, black soot like substance everywhere — called oil burner puffback.

Because oil is less likely than gas to dissipate, it can lead to larger, more frustrating explosions. However, oil-fired, forced air heating systems tend to have the nastiest and messiest oil burner puff back because oil creates way more soot than gas. Unfortunately, the intricate ductwork for the forced-air system can and often does spread oily, sticky soot to every room in your home.

Oil burner puffback is the reality for many homeowners, but it doesn't have to be! However, if you know what to look for, your system may be giving you warning signs prior to the actual oil burner puffback. In addition, there are several key steps you can proactively take to prevent it from happening.

And even if you've experience oil burner puffback, the team at UpRite Plus 2 offer decades of experience providing solutions to help restore your peace of mind. Continue reading to learn more about oil burner puffback, how to prevent it, and what to do following the catastrophic event.

Warning Signs You Shouldn't Ignore Before Oil Burner Puffback

Is your heating equipment giving you warning signs that you're about to enjoy the pains of dealing with a catastrophic oil burner puffback? If you answer yes to any of the following pre-oil-burner puffback questions, your system may be telling you it needs maintenance:

  1. Do you see black debris and soot on the top of your water heater, furnace, or boiler? Or have you noticed black soot stains on wall surfaces or ceilings in the living area, furnace room, or boiler room?

  2. Does your oil burner continually make a soft rumbling sound after the burner has stopped running?

  3. Do you hear noises when your oil burner initiates a cycle? This may sound like a smaller "bang" sound or more subtle "puff"?

If your system is giving you these warning signs, it's best you heed these signs and get your oil burner the maintenance it needs., If not, you could be dealing with the catastrophic fall out and clean up involved with oil burner puffback.

What Are the Causes of Oil Burner Puff Back?

Oil burner puffbacks can be caused by a long list of culprits. However, virtually every cause centers around the lack of annual system maintenance. Regardless of the fuel type, boilers and furnaces should have annual maintenance at a minimum. And when you fail to have annual maintenance, you'll increase the likelihood of oil burner puff back due to the following specific causes:

  1. Oil burner puff back can be caused by a leak near or at the combustion chamber that allows fuel to build up and causes an oily blowback when ignited.

  2. If your heat exchanger is cracked, it can prevent the gases of combustion from venting out of the furnace properly. This causes an irregularity in the internal pressure that causes a flame to roll out. The improper combustion procedure allows extra fuel to make its way into the ignition chamber and cause puffback whenever ignited.

  3. Whenever the chimney or exhaust is clogged, it can prevent combustion gases from venting properly, which can eventually lead to puffback caused by incorrect air-to-fuel ratio.

  4. If the burner is clogged due to rust, fuel residue, dust, dirt, or corrosion, it can lead to a misfire, which allows extra fuel to build up in the combustion chamber. This can cause oil burner puffback once the fuel ignites.

  5. Unburned fuel can begin to accumulate in the chamber whenever the system is manually reset too often. This can cause oil burner puffback after the ignition finally occurs.

  6. A cracked, clogged, or damaged fuel nozzle can lead to uneven oil spray, which causes an insufficient level of fuel for the oil burners to begin the ignition process. This damaged nozzle will continue attempting to spray, which allows excess oil to enter and collect in the burner over a period of time. Once the oil finally ignites, it can cause oil-burner puffback.

Contact UpRite Plus 2 for Oil Burner Puffback Cleanup

Oil burner puffback cleanup is a serious process and requires an understanding of what caused the problem as well as how to handle the potentially hazardous soot released by your furnace. Even if you're able to remove the surface soot, the remaining pungent burnt smell can linger for what seems like an eternity if it isn't properly cleaned and deodorized.

Regardless of the severity or cause of your oil burner puffback, you shouldn't attempt to clean the residue yourself. First and foremost, it's not safe to expose your entire family and yourself to the particulate. In addition, cleaning oil burner puffback requires the use of specialized cleaners designed to handle the various surfaces in your home.

Fortunately, the experts at UpRite Plus 2 offer decades of experience, providing fast and effective oil burner puffback cleanup solutions. Contact us today for assistance with oil burner puffback cleanup. We'll work to provide a fast solution and restore your peace of mind.

About the Author Thomas Marr

Offering nearly four decades of industry experience in restoration, mold remediation, and reconstruction, Thomas G. Marr is the president and CEO of ite Plus 2. He holds two certifications from the Florida Mold Institute — Certified Professional Mold Inspector and Certified Professional Mold Remediator — as well as a long list of other industry-recognized certifications. He brings brings a unique set of skills and expertise in all matters of flood, fire, and mold remediation, which has proven to be invaluable to businesses and homeowners throughout the New York area.

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