Puffback: Avoid This Homeowners’ Nightmare


If you haven’t heard this term before you can be forgiven — but it you have an oil-fired furnace, boiler or water heater, you may want to get educated sooner rather than later. Just a hint: if your Google search turns up a cute little bird, that’s not the kind of puffback you need to worry about. Here are the basics: Puff Back: What it is and How to Prevent It.

Puffback is a furnace backfire that discharges thick, sticky, stinky soot into every crevice of your home. Trying to remove this nasty residue on your own is frustrating and ineffective – there’s no easy fix. Normal cleaning products only spread the damage. Puffback damage requires a professional removal and restoration process similar to the type used after fires – New England Restoration specialists ARS talk about the painstaking process for addressing puffback and other soot and smoke damage.

If you have the misfortune to experience puffback, call your insurance agent right away to start a claim and to get a recommendation for a reputable restoration specialist in your area. It will depend on your insurance policy of course, but it is likely that your homeowners will cover some or all of the damage.  But the bottom line is this: puffback is preventable, so don’t let it happen in the first place. Have oil-fired heating appliances serviced regularly!

More information

What is a Puffback? – a blog post by Renaissance Alliance member Gordon Insurance.