Did You Know That Puff Back Can Start a Fire in Your Home? Check Out Why

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?

A puff back is a phenomenon that can happen when a furnace or boiler malfunctions, causing unburned fuel to be expelled from the unit explosively. This unburned fuel can cause a fire to start in your home, so it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with puff backs and take steps to avoid them.

Puff backs can occur with any heating system but are most common with oil-fired systems. They can also occur with gas-fired systems, but these are less common.

That’s why many homeowners and business owners keep contact numbers of fire restoration companies (like PuroClean McLean) on hand, just in case. These professionals can help clean up the mess and get your home or business back to normal as quickly as possible.

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.

What Can You Do to Avoid Puff Back?

There are a few things you can do to help avoid puff back:

  • Make sure your furnace or boiler is properly vented.
  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly.
  • Avoid storing flammable materials near your heating system.
  • If you have an oil-fired system, have it serviced at least once a year.
  • If you experience a puff back, call a fire restoration company right away.

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:

  • Go out of the house and call 911.
  • Don’t try to fight the fire yourself.
  • Leave all your belongings and exit the home immediately.
  • Don’t go near the unit if you have an oil-fired heating system. It may still be hot and could explode.
  • Keep a safe distance from the house until the fire department arrives.
  • Call fire restoration professionals near you. Click here to see how it works.


A puff back can start a fire in your home, so it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to avoid them. If a fire occurs, make sure you evacuate the house and call 911.

Call restoration experts near you, such as this mold removal Fairfax. 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 aftermaths.