When an oil or gas furnace is operating properly, there is little to no soot generated as the fuel is burned to create the heat you need to warm your home. Unfortunately, it only takes one leaky or clogged burner to create a dangerous situation leading to an explosion known as a puff back. A puff back sends soot throughout your ducts and can fill your home with oily smoke and black marks that linger for years. Cleaning up soot from the furnace requires an understanding of what caused the problem and how to handle the potentially hazardous materials released by your furnace.
1. Puff Back Cleanup
A puff back is a serious problem that you should treat as an emergency. It occurs when excess fuel builds up in the combustion chamber of a furnace. This extra oil or gas explodes the next time the furnace starts up, creating an explosion that can damage your furnace or even the entire home. At the very least, you’ll hear a loud noise and notice a fine dust that settles on furniture and surfaces near your air vents. You may also smell a strong burnt odor, see smoke coming from the vents, and notice fine or large black splatters on your walls and vent covers.
2. Black Soot from Furnace
Black soot can build up inside the combustion chamber of a furnace due to a lack of routine maintenance, but this soot shouldn’t end up in the ducts or coming out of your vents unless there’s a serious problem like a puff back. Soot inside the furnace should still be removed every year or twice a year if there’s more than half an inch of material accumulating per year. Letting soot build up inside the combustion chamber lowers the heating efficiency, raises your energy bills and increases the fire risk inside the chamber.
3. Soot from Oil Furnace in House
Soot blown around the house by a malfunctioning furnace must be treated professionally. The oily residue must be neutralized and carefully scrubbed or wiped away to prevent damage to the drywall, carpeting, upholstery, and other surfaces the soot settles on.
4. Change the Filter
One cleaning chore you can handle yourself after a puff back is the changing of the air filter. A puff back leaves plenty of residues to clog up even a new filter, so it’s a small investment to swap out the filter for a new one while you’re waiting for repairs. This prevents debris from being blown around the ducts and vents the first time you start the heating system up again.
5. Cover the Vents
Finally, you can also cover the vents to stop the movement of soot as the ducts and furnace are cleaned and repaired. Use a few layers of cheesecloth and tape the material securely around the vent covers so soot doesn’t escape.
No matter the cause or severity of your furnace soot problem, you shouldn’t try to clean the residue yourself. It’s not safe to expose yourself to the particulate, and it requires special treatment to come off of the various surfaces in your home without any damage to the materials. Let Embassy Cleaners handle the chore of cleaning up soot from the furnace in your home.