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What happens with a Puffback or appliance fire in your Bronxville home or business in NY 10708

5/2/2016 (Permalink)

No space heaters, but a boiler that gave up in 18 degree temps for days. We cleaned this puffback in a $3m home that was 4k sq ft., even the bathrooms

Preventing Heating Hazards that lead to a Puffback, fire or soot damage in your Bronxville, NY home or business - 10708!

We treated this cleanup like a fire damage or restoration because of the threat of mold growth later on -- as if the basement flooded from water suppressed firefighters' efforts to save the home.  

I am reblogging this post for the holidays because boilers are working overtime with cold, rainy May days / nights! 

It’s time to think about preventing a fire, soot damage or “puffback” in your home or business again, especially if you have a boiler heating system or use space heaters.  It’s all about maintenance and being safe!

Our winter season is ending -- and it’s getting warmer --so, our boilers are working overtime.  They are on at night for 40 degrees and off on our warm days in the high 60s.  

We are all looking for warm alternatives as 2016 Spring ramps up, with summer on the way.  But, some of us are saving oil money and just leave space heaters on in bedrooms, or have fireplaces for a cozy wood fire. 

But, this is also the time of year that house fires happen from clothing dropped on a space heater in the dark, or a boiler that may need maintenance and is just DONE.  It can “puffback” soot into your property, or a portable heater can be moved too close to a fabric chair or couch that may be flammable.

A puffback occurs when an oil burner backfires and sends oily soot throughout your home or business.  This anomaly can happen if a boiler is older, not well-maintained 2x per year, or just malfunctions for technical reasons.  

Most of us love a warm, cozy home and a comfortable workplace, so we may light a nice fire at home on winter evenings, or move a space heater near our couch and under our desks at the office.  In fact, alternative heat sources like fireplaces, portable space heaters and wood burning stoves are getting a lot of use, with our polar vortex cold temps in the NYC area in recent years.

Our family has a new-ish, energy efficient boiler in Fleetwood, NY, but our oil bill is still painful to open each early Spring month.  So, I got my father and stepmom some portable heaters—the safe, non-flammable and oil filled kind when they lived with us.  When they moved to Independent Living, they took one and we kept the other one. 

There is less of a fire hazard with these contained heaters, although I'm fond of "ceramic heaters" under my desk at work in cold months like January!

We  just want to make everyone aware of the risks for portable heaters and unattended wood fires.  That's because our SERVPRO of Scarsdale/Mount Vernon has responded to some really tragic soot damages from large fires, or boilers that puffed back.

You may want to stay on the alert about heating sources that are too close to your ergonomic fabric chair at work, or your dog's favorite fabric chew toy near your evening fire.

Most of us, who enjoy decorating, will have a fireplace area that is surrounded by a flammable carpet or home decorations.   There is a reason that builders put non-flammable slate or brick around our fireplaces. 

So, just keep an eye on children’s or pet’s toys that stray onto the “hearth” next to that crackling, cozy fire.

Heater malfunctions or fabric igniting are among the leading causes of home fire deaths, making it important to review ways that can help you reduce a heating-related fire risk (National Fire Prevention Association).  Get those boilers checked

...and please keep any space heaters away from bedding, or your couch and the fuzzy afghan throw that "Aunt Ellen" knitted for your family! 

Here are some of my helpful (we hope) tips and hints from Hillary ~ about heat source and appliance fire prevention:

  • Maintain your heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Use heaters that have a recognized label for safety from a qualified company / laboratory.
  • All heaters need space, so keep flammable objects at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Plug space heaters directly into outlets, never into an extension cord or power strip.
  • When using fuel-burning heaters, uses only the type of fuel specified by the manufacturer, AND keep them maintained!
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide and smoke alarms inside your home and business; test alarms monthly.

If you do experience a nightmare "Puffback" -- like a fire or soot damage, do not get out the cleaning spray and your guy's old t-shirt rag with auto oil stains.  

You want to "dry clean or wipe" the soot from EVERY surface -- or you'll find it on stuck on your little chatchkes forever.  This will seal the odor and particulate into porous surfaces.

Or hire a licensed contractor because soot is a particulate and can be carcinogenic if ingested / inhaled.

We hope that you never have to call us for help and a puffback or traumatic post-fire cleanup, but we're here 24/7 and 365 days per year, if you need us.

Forrest & Hillary & all at SERVPRO of Scarsdale/Mount Vernon