What Is A Soot Puffback? | Soot Damage in RI

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soot damage in rhode island

Well, folks, it’s that time of the year again. Homeowners are turning on their heat for the first time since the weather here in Rhode Island is getting a bit chilly. But all of a sudden *poof* a grey ash-like material causes a puff all over your ceiling and walls. This is soot damage in RI.

baseboard soot puffback in ri
Damaged baseboard from soot puffback. If left unchecked, it could continue to push more soot throughout your home.

Is this safe? What is this grey stuff? What do I do now?

Read on to learn more about soot damage and soot puffbacks.

What is a soot puffback?

A soot puffback occurs when your oil burner backfires and shoots smoke and soot into your home or business. Soot puffbacks are sometimes referred to as furnace puffbacks or boiler puffbacks. It is technically a mini-explosion in the burner chamber of your furnace which causes soot to puff back through your HVAC system. The result can be anywhere from a small amount of smoke to a minor explosion, depending on how much fuel has accumulated in the chamber.

This can also happen with baseboard heating but is not as common since copper piping is more confined which makes a puffback rarer to occur. Soot puffbacks cause extensive soot damage and must be taken care of immediately.

Is soot Dangerous?

Soot is extremely dangerous. Soot-contaminated areas that aren’t treated properly can cause lasting damage to property and adverse health conditions. Soot particles are naked to the human eye and travel through the air. Soot is exceptionally destructive and corrosive. It can travel throughout your home or business and get into things like appliances, electronics, children’s toys, etc. This creates an unsafe environment for you or your family or staff. 

Soot inhalation can cause severe cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The toxic chemicals in soot also increase the risk of kidney disease and multiple types of cancer.

How is soot damage cleaned?

Soot damage must be cleaned properly and right away. Soot is found by using a soot sponge to determine that there is soot in that area. Then soot will be cleaned by a proper restoration company, like Rhode Island Restoration, by using the following methods:

  • Air scrubbers with HEPA filters are placed in the building and ducted to the exterior to purify the air.
  • Chemical sponges are used to test building materials to see if soot is present. Soot is not always present to the naked eye.
  • Thermal fogging is performed to clean the air and is an effective smoke odor remover because it recreates the fire-related properties of heat and pressurization. Porous materials pick up thermally activated deodorant droplets in the same manner in which they picked up the smoke odors, closely duplicating what occurs during a fire.
  • We use multiple cleaning products/deodorizers to clean hard surface items.
  • Proper containment is set up.
  • When soot affects your clothing or electronics, we partner with CRDN to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned. If it cannot be cleaned, we recommend that it be discarded and replaced.
  • We are extremely meticulous when cleaning your property after you’ve experienced soot damage as any particles left behind can cause abhorrent health issues.

soot sponges
Soot sponges are used to determine if soot is on a surface. They are also used to clean soot damage.

After the soot is cleaned, everything that can be will be painted. Soot can cause discoloration which will require the paint but also since soot is so tiny, it can never be fully cleaned. Priming and painting will seal and lock in any missed particles.

How do I know if I have a soot puffback?

Visible soot around HVAC returns and supply grills is a good indication that you have a soot puffback. Another way to tell that you have soot damage is soot cobwebs. Different from regular spider cobwebs, soot cobwebs form after an incident of soot damage.

soot damage
soot cobwebs from soot puffback in ri

What do I do after soot damage in RI?

To ensure the safety of the people at your home or business, contact Rhode Island Restoration anytime. Call us at 401-834-FIRE (3473) for emergency soot damage cleaning services. We will assess all of the damages and make sure your home or business is safe to inhabit while preventing further damages.

Disaster can strike at any time

If you do experience any kind of property damage emergency, RI Restoration is open 24/7, 365 days a year to immediately come out and begin the restoration process at your home or business. 

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