What Are the Causes of this Backfire of an Oil Burning Furnace?
Especially in areas with limited access to natural gas, oil-burning furnaces give economical heat and rely on a renewable resource. They generally accommodate retrofits to upgrade their efficacy. Perks aside, these standard appliances are vulnerable to occasional — and potentially dangerous — hiccups referred to as backfires or puffbacks. Knowing the cause of these misfires is only half the battle; knowing how to prevent them and how to respond to them is equally important.
Essentially, backfires happen when your oil leakage misses ignition: If the burner does not ignite as intended, atomized oil fumes can build up; if ignition finally occurs, the fumes typically cause a small explosion. In some instances, the problem occurs when debris accumulates in the furnace, leading to an explosion of accumulated atomized oil. These puffbacks happen most often during the winter, resulting from a filter that is dirty, a faulty valve or, at the most expensive cases, a lousy oil burner. Typically, the backfire is accompanied by reduced thudding noise from the appliance, but sometimes a large explosive blast big enough to knock down the flue pipe occurs.
An oil-burning chimney having a leaky seal can toss improperly atomized oil to the furnace’s combustion chamber, which finally pools in the base of the chamber. The pools partly vaporize. They ignite if the furnace cycles on, causing an explosion. Similarly, a variety of different conditions — dirty or damaged rotary cup burners on traditional furnaces, improper fuel or water from the gas, a cluttered pile switch, failing detectors, faulty electrodes — may result in some combination of improperly atomized oil and delayed ignition, that combine to cause a backfire.
Although distinct causes lead to backfires, the effects are largely the same. Upon misfire, your furnace releases an oily odor along with a large discharge of dark or gray soot through the furnace’s exhaust system or, if your home features a forced-air system, your heating Sacramento repair specialists system’s vents. If the explosion is intense enough, it may burst the sealed atmosphere and send soot and smoke into your living room. In the latter two scenarios, the expelled soot can protect your walls, floors, fixtures, furniture and everything in between. Following a backfire occurs and you’ve taken the appropriate security measures, dispose of any food that is exposed and machine-wash any materials you can. To cover the rest, you are going to have to enlist the help of a specialized cleaning crew to renew the affected space and hire a climate-control professional to repair your furnace.
If a backfire occurs in your home, equip yourself with a mask, turn off the furnace’s oil and electrical supply, and ventilate your home thoroughly. Avoid lingering in the area until it’s been thoroughly cleaned of soot, since the smoke and soot include flavonoids. In some instances, the first explosion may cause tiny flames because of burning oil droplets. You can take care of these flames using a foam fire extinguisher to prevent a structure fire, but always prioritize your security, and contact the local fire department immediately if the backfire results in a fire in your home.
Prevention is the best weapon against furnace backfires. Consistently dust your oil-burning furnace and hire a licensed climate-control technician to inspect and service your appliance once each year. Likewise, contact an climate-control professional if you spot any soot close to the furnace, in the event the appliance sets off an oil-like odor or if it emits any unusual noises during surgery.