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What is a puffback?


Is your home heated by an oil furnace or burner? If so, it could be vulnerable to a puffback. A puffback occurs when an oil burner backfires sending soot throughout your home. It can happen all at once, like a balloon popping, or more gradually, as if someone was holding the end of a balloon and letting the air seep out slowly.

Although there is no foolproof way to prevent a puffback, annual inspection and maintenance of your oil burner or furnace can greatly reduce your risk. If a puffback occurs at your home, soot can cover all areas of the home and may range from light to very heavy. Sometimes the disbursement of soot is so light and fine it appears to be ordinary dust. This "dust" however, reappears hours after being cleaned. There is often a strong odor of oil accompanying a puffback. Do's:

Notify your insurance agent or company immediately.

Have a qualified ServiceMaster Restore® specialist begin cleaning all affected areas immediately to return your home to its natural state.


Do not attempt to wash wallpaper or flat-painted walls in your home, as improper cleaning will further compound the soot residue.

Do not use retail cleaning solutions or soap. These will only smear and spread the soot, not fully remove it.

Do not try to clean carpets and upholstered furniture.

Avoid touching items in your home as soot on your hands can easily permeate upholstery, walls and woodwork, causing additional damage.

Don’t wait! Soot travels and will reappear if not immediately removed.

ServiceMaster Restore is available 24/7/365 to assist you when experiencing a puffback. We offer emergency services, quick response time and work with all major insurance companies. For information about any of our disaster restoration services, call our office in Hendersonville NC.

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