Ways Puff Back Can Burn Your Property and How to Avoid It

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) confirmed that US fire departments responded to 346,800 house structure fires per year from 2015 to 2019. This means that, on average, there was a house fire in the country every few minutes. While there are many potential causes of house fires, one common culprit is a puff back.

What Is Puff Back?

Puff back is the name given to an event that can occur when a furnace or boiler malfunctions and sends soot and other debris flying out of the chimney. This can happen when the flue becomes blocked and causes pressure to build up in the furnace, leading to an explosion.

If a puff back occurs while someone is asleep, they may not be aware of the danger until it’s too late. The soot and debris from the explosion can cause extensive damage to property, including singeing hair and clothes, starting fires, and even causing respiratory problems.

How Does Puff Back Start a Fire?

Puff back can start a fire in several ways, including:

  • One of the most common causes is when soot from the flue gas builds up on surfaces inside the chimney. This soot can easily ignite if it comes into contact with a spark or heat source.
  • Another common cause of puff back is when moisture accumulates in the furnace or boiler. This can happen if the unit isn’t properly vented or if there’s a problem with the chimney. When the moisture turns to steam, it can cause an explosive reaction that blows flames and soot out the unit. Also, this moisture can cause water damage to your home, so take care of it immediately or call water damage restoration professionals.

What Can You Do to Avoid Puff Back?

  • Have your heating system inspected and regularly serviced by a qualified technician.
  • Ensure your chimney is properly cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
  • Keep all vents and openings on your heating system free of obstruction.
  • Don’t allow debris or snow to build up around your furnace or boiler.
  • If you have an oil-fired heating system, use a licensed and insured oil delivery company.
  • If you have a gas or propane heating system, have the gas lines inspected and serviced regularly by a qualified technician.
  • Never use an open flame when starting a furnace or boiler that’s been shut down for repairs.
  • Consider installing CO alarms on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly if inhaled in large quantities. Puff backs can produce high levels of carbon monoxide, so it’s important to have detectors installed to alert you if there’s a problem.

What to Do If a Fire Occurs Due to a Puff Back

If a fire starts in your home due to a puff back, take these steps:

  • Tell everyone to get out of the house and call 911.
  • If possible, try to extinguish the fire using a fire extinguisher.
  • Don’t go back into your home until it’s been determined by the fire department that it’s safe to do so.
  • Be prepared for water damage by having a water restoration professional on standby.
  • Keep a safe distance from the house until the fire department arrives.
  • Call fire restoration professionals near you or visit this website to see how it works.


The most effective way to avoid a puff back and a potential fire is to let your heating system be checked by a qualified technician regularly. If a fire occurs due to a puff back, immediately call necessary agencies, such as 911, your local fire department, restoration companies, etc.

Call restoration experts near you, or go to this page to learn more. This is to avoid causing further damage to your house just because they took so long to arrive. Note that time is crucial when it comes to fires and their aftermath.

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