What’s a PUFFBACK & what to do if you have one in Bronxville, NY 10708.
Most of us have never heard of a puff back, unless you or someone you know has had this disaster occur in your home or business. A puffback occurs when an oil burner backfires and sends oily soot throughout your home or business. Soot goes everywhere, out of vents and / or radiators and covers everything with a black film...ICK!
This anomaly can happen if a boiler is older, not well-maintained, or just malfunctions for technical reasons.
It's Fall now, even with summer temperatures. However, cooler nights mean that we'll all turn on our boilers in Westchester County soon. That's when last year's soot build up and and a boiler that has been used less frequently for hot water can "puff back!" Contact your oil company and get your home or business boiler maintained soon!
A puffback can occur all at once, covering every surface in a structure with soot particulate. Or, it might be gradual and not result in soot on every surface in a home or business, only a room or two.
This is not a healthy situation and you should not touch or breathe the soot or particulates that – like bus and other exhaust – can be carcinogenic for us. It's especially for unhealthy for young children and our elderly relatives.
Here are some preventative tips!
You’ll know if you’ve had a puffback! It is usually quite easy to tell. Soot covers all areas of the home or business & may range from light to very heavy particulate in every nook and cranny. In some cases, it is a fine layer that just appears to be regular dust. However, this "dust" can “re-appear” hours after you clean, and there’s usually a strong odor of oil in affected rooms. At Servpro of Scarsdale / Mount Vernon, we have certified technicians who can make it, "Like it never even happened."
You can prevent puffbacks in one easy way: Your best precaution against a puffback is to have your oil burner inspected annually, so that it’s in good repair. This is no guarantee against having a puff back, but it greatly reduces your risk. Keep debris, animal hair or anything that could interfere with proper functioning away from your oil burner. Also, many boilers need to be drained of a few cups of excess water and residue monthly.
What to avoid and tips for not making a bad puffback worse: Do not attempt to wash wallpapered or flat painted walls, clean carpets or upholstered furniture. Avoid touching things.
What you should do first:
- Notify your insurance agent or company immediately.
- Most insurance companies know Servpro and certified disaster recovery companies that are SRT (soot restoration certified). So, call one of us to schedule a free walkthrough and Scope of Work.
- Next, most home and business owners policies encourage you to hire a qualified disaster response company right away, to help you clean your property, return to the home and get your life back quickly.
- NOTE: Often, home or business owners think they must wait for an insurance adjuster. Call your broker and find out if your situation is an "insured loss," and then hire a restoration company in your area, of your choice, with certified, background checked crews -- and, you should do so quickly versus living in a soot situation.
- Have a qualified disaster restoration specialist begin cleaning all affected areas as soon as possible, to prevent more damage.
- Soot travels and can become airborne, reappearing if it’s not completely removed.
Tips on what NOT to do:
- Do not attempt to wash wallpapered or flat-painted walls. Incorrect cleaning can "set" or compound the soot odor and staining, if not cleaned properly.
- Do not try to clean carpets and upholstered furniture. Avoid touching things. (Soot on your hands can permeate upholstery, walls and woodwork and cause further damage.)
- Try not to walk on flooring in the affected areas because you will grind in soot and make it harder to remove.
- Do not use wet cleansers on anything, especially fabrics or porous materials because you will "set" any stains and even worsen the soot odor.
Plan to call in professionals for help, whether it's a local, family owned and certified company -- like our Servpro of Scarsdale / Mount Vernon, based in Westchester County -- or, a certified restoration team in your area...so you can get your life back to normal quickly.
Make sure that the chemicals and other materials used to clean your property are EPA regulated, "Green" if possible and are safe for you and yours!
For any realtors, having professional help come to the rescue for your seller may save your sale. Most puffback situations are insured "smoke or soot damages." In fact, we make it "Like it never even happened" and clients tell us their home and business looks and smells cleaner than before!