What is Puff Back?

In the US, approximately 8 million homes still use heating oil as their main heating fuel.  Of these, an astounding 80%, or 6.4 million, are located in the Northeast.  Many of these furnaces, despite being regularly serviced, can malfunction in the form of a “puffback.”  These puffbacks wreak havoc on paint, carpet, and contents of a home.  Most often, they’re covered under your existing homeowners insurance policy.

A oil furnace puff back is an actual explosion of unburned fuel lying in the combustion chamber of the furnace.  The strength and soot expelled by this explosion depends on how much unburned oil there is.  Two major malfunctions which can cause this oil to accumulate are:

  1. Leaks in the piping supplying the oil.  If you notice a slow drip of oil on the floor, call a technician to service the equipment.  These leaks cause air bubbles to get into the piping, which can move and push little bits of oil into the combustion chamber when the furnace is off.  This accumulates, and ultimately will ignite the oil and cause a loud bang.
  2. Problems when the furnace shuts down.  Inside the oil burner is a valve which is spring loaded and stops the flow of oil precisely when the RPMs of the oil burner begins to slow.  If there is even the slightest bit of dirt or debris on this valve, it can cause the same accumulation in the combustion chamber.

If your home experiences a puffback, you may notice some thermal tracks on the walls and ceiling where the soot has settled.  The soot will settle mostly near cooler areas on these surfaces, so you may notice it on nail heads on drywall, or in the corners of the ceiling.  Often, these tracks are indicators of areas of heat loss within a home as well.  However, even if you don’t notice any visible signs, that doesn’t mean the soot isn’t covering your walls, ceiling and contents.  You should have the unit serviced immediately, and call us so we can do a thorough inspection of the home.

If there’s evidence of soot, your insurance company will pay to have all areas affected cleaned (including contents and clothing), deodorized (in the case of carpet), and repainted (walls and ceilings).  Depending on the size of your home, this could mean tens of thousands of dollars.  If this should occur in your home, our trained and certified technicians can assist you in bringing your home back to pre-loss conditions.  biowashing.com

Preparing For A Frozen Pipe

Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

 

  • Disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets.
  • Keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even if you’re leaving the house for an extended period of time.
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
  • Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.)
  • Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
  • Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
  • Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
  • Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
  • If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine.

 

Monitor Freezing Pipe Conditions

 

  • Allow a faucet to drip slightly (lukewarm water) in order to minimize freezing.
  • The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.
  • Check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to sleep and again when you wake up.
  • Check pipes around your water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces.
  • These tend to be vulnerable to freezing conditions.
  • Identify cold air drafts coming in from a flue or chimney chase and caulk gaps that are near pipes. 

 

If a Pipe Freezes

 

  • If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer. (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.)
  • To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.
  • When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out. 

 

If a Pipe Bursts

 

  • Shut off water at the main valve.
  • If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
  • Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.

If a loss/disaster in your home or business should occur, our 24 Hour Emergency Response Team is on call to assist you.  Feel free to contact us at anytime or visit our site at http://biowashing.com