It is hard to cope with the emotional and physical devastation caused by a house fire. While the flames have been put out, first responders have been removed, the challenges still remain. You’re looking at extensive fire and smoke damage.
Nobody is prepared for such a difficult situation.
Let’s take a closer look at what to expect after a fire and how to get things under control. It is important to be prepared for anything. This guide can be a great help.
Is all smoke damage the same?
If all fires caused the same amount of smoke damage, then it would make the cleanup process easier.
They don’t, and that complicates the work.
Different materials may cause different smoke remediation problems.
Structural Wood – Burning structural wood contaminates air with soot and volatile organic materials.
Natural Materials – Smoke produced by other natural materials covers surfaces with a penetrating ash.
Synthetics – As plastic burns, it releases thick smoke that spreads sticky residue through affected areas.
Proteins – Typically kitchen-based, protein fires You will leave behind yellow-brown, greasy stains.
Smoke damage can be seen on stained ceilings, discolored floors, and streaked wall surfaces. What you can’t see are residual chemicals and carbon particles left behind in layers of soot covering every surface.
The contamination can get trapped in walls cavities. It penetrates insulation and spreads to areas above the ceiling. Subflooring is also affected. Acidic soot can also cause severe respiratory problems.
It is important to get rid of all debris as quickly as possible. This will help protect your health, property, and belongings. It’s also very important to wear OSHA-rated respiratory gear while you’re working.
HOW DOES SMOKE DAMAGE AFFECT YOUR HOME’S CONTENTS?
Your first concerns during a house fire are always centered on immediate evacuation and everyone’s safety. After the fire has been extinguished, you can move on to other matters. plan for returning home. That’s when you realize smoke damage in the house affects everything from furnishings to personal belongings.
Within minutes of smoke exposure, your home’s contents are covered with Sticky soot can leave permanent stains. Within a matter of hours, the residue has penetrated porous structural materials such as drywall and tile grout.
Smoke damage restoration is not possible for several days. Carpets, drapes and upholstery can become irreversible stained if this happens. After a week, the corrosive smoke stains glass in windows, doors to showers, mirrors, and picture frames.
HOW DO YOU START SMOKE DAMAGE CLEANUP
Do a room by room inspection of your property. Take note of dark stains and thick layers of soot. However, look out for signs less obvious of smoke damage like light discoloration and walls.
Sort out personal belongings while you are going through each room. Take any ruined items and bag them for outside disposal. This helps to reduce the smoke smell inside. You can transfer any items that are salvageable to another location that is not affected by the fire.
Finally, you can put together the following equipment and smoke damage cleaning items.
Latex gloves or nitrile gloves and heavy work boots.
OSHA-rated wrap-around goggles and respirator
Specially made for the removal of soot, dry sponges
Use wet sponges trisodium phosphate Use a similar degreaser
Sturdy ladder, large buckets, and plastic dropcloths
Vacuum cleaner equipped with HEPA filters and an upholstery attachment
STEPS FOR SOOT AND SMOKE DAMAGE RESTORATION
This type of restoration begins with the removal of all soot from surfaces. It then proceeds to property-wide smoke cleanup, deodorizing and cleaning up. These are the steps. Before you start the work, make sure to put on your personal protection gear.
1. Beware of Air Circulation
Fresh air currents can reduce smoke odors. Keep windows and doors closed during cleanup. Leave fans running in rooms that need to dry, but turn them off while you’re working on soot removal in these areas.
2. VACUUM SOOT FROM SURFACES
Place drop cloths on the floor. Use a brush to remove any traces of soot and dust from your furnishings. HEPA filter vacuum. Slowly pass the vacuum’s upholstery attachment over affected areas, but don’t press the nozzle into surfaces.
Keep it still so that the residual is drawn up and into vacuum attachment. This technique reduces the possibility of contamination deeper in soot-covered surfaces.
Tip of the Power: This job is made easier by renting a shop vacuum or soot vacuum.
3. DRY-SPONGE CEILINGS AND WALLS
Running the vacuum on walls and ceilings isn’t practical. Instead, you can use a dry sponge that is specifically designed to clean up soot. The material in these vulcanized rubber products absorbs the powdery residue, so don’t overload the sponge.
Use vertical, overlapping strokes to pass it across surfaces. Use a small amount of soot to clean the walls and ceilings. This will reduce streaking. Use the same technique of overlapping strokes to clean the ceiling.
Power TipYou can get more use out of dry sponges by cutting off soot-saturated regions to expose new cleaning material.
4. FINISH SOOT CLEANUP W/ A DEGREASER
Once you’ve removed surface layers, finish cleaning with a mixture of 1 gallon of warm water and 1 tablespoon of degreaser. Also, you can use the following solution: warm water and white vinegar. Degreasing and dry sponging are effective in removing soot from glasses.
Power Tip: Strong chemical cleaning agents are Degreasers. Make sure you read and follow the instructions.
5. FIX RESIDUAL SMOKE ODORS
The most important part of smoke damage restoration is soot cleanup. Although sponges and vacuums can remove the surface contaminants, you will still need to deal with unpleasant odors from smoke. This invisible problem is difficult to solve and requires patience.
DIY options In areas that are affected by smoke, you can set out baking soda or vinegar bowls. To absorb lingering odors, activated charcoal can be used in small bags. Specialized equipment speeds up fire damage restoration.
Tip of the Power: Optimize baking soda’s effectiveness It can be spread in thin layers on large cookie sheets.
In most situations, it’s better to let fire damage restoration pros handle this step with specialized equipment that speeds up the process. To quickly remove heavy smoke odors, our teams use thermal foggers that contain solvent-based deodorizers. In affected areas, we also use advanced ozone generators.
Disclaimer: This equipment is intended for professionals who are industry-certified technicians.
6. Assess your personal belongings
Furniture, bedding and clothes that weren’t directly exposed to soot and smoke can be cleaned and washed. However, it’s best to let a Highland INC Construction restoration company take care of fire-damaged belongings.