Fire/Explosion Investigations - Heating System - Puff Back and Analysis

Our technical team of engineers and investigators specialize in the diagnostics of problems and failures associated with heating and cooling equipment for residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Our evaluations can be as simple as a basic determination of a failure of a unit to complex issues involving major failures, explosions or even fire incidents that occur with the equipment. Occasionally personal injury and other environmental concerns are involved with these evaluations and investigations.




Our staff and certified heating systems analysts can conduct a basic inspection for a claim that involves determination of the cause of failure and providing fair and reasonable costs for its repair or replacement. A systematic work frame is performed in many areas involving the failures of this equipment which involve the following:

  • Water damage arising from failure
  • Sudden failure of external controls and safeties
  • Fire/Explosion causes
  • Oil, gas, mechanical equipment failures
  • Freeze-up causes and concerns
  • Defect and deficiencies of equipment and related mechanical and electrical sources
  • Improper servicing and maintenance-related issues.

Our heating system evaluation is detailed and we utilize manufacturer's specifications and review of documentation and service records to evaluate the concerns associated with failures and defects.



Once again our team can evaluate the basic causes of failure involving air conditioning and condensing equipment. Many times these failures may involve potential high voltage surges or lightning related issues. Full testing both mechanical and electrical is performed on both condensing units, heat pumps and indoor air handlers and furnace equipment. Evaluation and investigation of this equipment determines the cause of failure and damage. Areas involve determining whether or not there are sudden and accidental related causes or long term maintenance and age related conditions. Some other areas of investigation and analysis are as follows:

  • Lightning damage to equipment
  • Flooding or water damage from condensing pan and equipment
  • Mold control and moisture issues within structures
  • Air quality and performance of equipment
  • Humidity and dampness issues
  • Air handler and filtration equipment
  • Environmental compliance/Seer ratings
  • Performance and leakage investigations
  • Servicing and maintenance related issues.

These evaluations and investigations are performed on a regular basis. Should you have any questions or issues and require assistance for an examination, please contact our offices.



Many times heating system equipment malfunctions resulting in smoke or soot generation within a structure. Commonly this is referred to in the industry as a blow back or puff back. Typically this indicates that there is improper combustion whereas adequate drafting does not occur with the ventilation equipment and residual smoke or soot could back up into the home or structure.


The evaluation of the HVAC equipment can be conducted in order to determine and verify that smoke or soot has entered into the structure creating contamination and/or discoloration to contents within the structure.


Our chemical engineering division has the ability to sample and test this residue to determine the elemental breakdown of the residue to scientifically document the exact product that has created this discoloration.


Many times there are other common sources for residue or soot deposition within the structure unrelated to heating system malfunctions. There could be issues concerning candle burning, vented or non-vented heaters, cigarette or smoke paraphernalia, solid fuel burning equipment and normal environmental accumulation of dust or dirt over time.


Our testing and evaluation of the residue within the home is performed by our certified Dr. Gene Hall, Ph.D. Chemical Engineer. Issues concerning smoke, soot or other residues within the home and whether or not it is related to heating system malfunctions can be performed and clearly documented as to the potential and cause of these issues. Please advise accordingly.