Puffbacks

A Puffback is a misfire in your furnace that can send soot throughout your home. Puffbacks occur most often in winter and can cause a light coating to a heavy amount of soot throughout your home. Forced air systems “push” the soot causing a more substantial coating.

It is very important to have your system serviced annually in the fall. This proves maintenance should you have an insurance claim due to Puffback. Have your service provider write a report to detail the cause of the misfire and the parts that needed to be replaced. Keep the parts! This is important because failure to provide the parts for inspection can set you up for denial of a claim.

Take a deep breath, Puffbacks can cause a foul odor in your home. Exterior walls may show nail pops more clearly. Ceilings may have visible “stripes”. The coldest parts of your home will show soot more clearly. Check around the returns and registers for soot. You may also see “dark cobwebs”, which aren’t cobwebs at all, they are smoke webs and are black!

Public Adjusters use what is called a “chemical sponge”, also known as a soot smoke eraser sponge, to find soot in your home. Don’t let the name “chemical sponge” scare you! There are no chemicals in the sponge! It is highly porous and captures soot in the sponge when swiped properly over a surface.

Soot is very acidic and damaging, especially to textiles such as upholstered furniture, drapes, clothing, etc. Exposed food will need to be discarded, but be sure to photograph it and document it beforehand. Service professionals may be needed to handle the cleaning if there is heavy soot or if the loss is large. It is very important to handle these types of losses properly so you aren’t breathing in soot and you may need to stay somewhere else temporarily if the Puffback is bad enough.

I hope this information has helped shed some light on what a Puffback is and how to spot soot damage. If you or someone you know has experienced a loss due to Puffback, know that it is your right to talk to and/or hire a Public Adjuster.

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