When Soot is Everywhere – DIY Furnace Cleanup


Lack of cleaning and regular maintenance can lead to soot buildup in your furnace and furnace break downs, including the expulsion of black soot through the air vent ducts which can cover your home in a black dust.

Sometimes, the expulsion of soot can be due to a faulty exhaust system (flue) or improper venting.  Other times it can be caused by a fuel leak or faulty parts, such as the fuel nozzle/valve in the combustion chamber leaking fuel. It’s best to hire a professional and licensed HVAC technician to inspect and repair the furnace.  However, you can do some basic maintenance and cleanup yourself. Here are the basic guidelines for a DIY furnace cleanup and some repair tips:

Safety First: Before you start, make sure to wear a respirator mask to protect yourself and from breathing in any soot.

  1. Turn the furnace off to prevent further spread of soot and the potential release of CO gas.
  1. Inspect the furnace and surrounding area. Hire a licensed HVAC technician to make sure there are no fuel leaks or potential combustion risks.
  2. Clean the ventilation system and the furnace itself to prevent the spread of soot.
  3. Clean the flue. After clearing and cleaning the flue, any problems will go away (unless you see gas or oil leaking).
  4. Replace the air filter a few times over the next couple of days.

Potential parts that might need to be replaced:

  • Burner and Igniter Assembly
  • Heat Exchanger
  • Fan Limit Switch
  • Barometric Damper

Click here for our furnace parts page for everything you will need.

Click here for a great vent cleaning agent.

Other tips:

To prevent future problems, consider switching to higher grade fuel as cleaner fuel is less likely to produce such adverse effects.

Hire a professional and licensed HVAC technician to inspect the furnace and house. A technician should certainly be called in to inspect not only the furnace unit to find the causes of the puff and prevent future incidents, but also to inspect the rest of the home.

Install a carbon-monoxide detector in the house. Install a CO alarm in the hallway near every separate sleeping area of the home as recommended by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Make sure the alarm cannot be covered up by furniture or draperies.

Remember to keep your furnace well maintained with routine check-ups and cleanings to avoid costly breakdowns and cleanups.

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