Nearly everyone has seen pictures of the devastation a house fire causes. However, few people can describe what smoke damage looks like. A combination of smoke and soot, smoke damage destroys prized possessions and ruins a home’s air quality.
Because smoke affects different materials in different ways, it can be difficult to tell how much smoke damage your home has experienced after a fire. Depending on the type and temperature of the fire, there can be various levels of smoke damage throughout the house, including inside cracks and crevices. Left undetected or untreated, the smell of smoke can last for months, and the damage to personal items can worsen.
Calling in a professional restoration company that offers smoke damage solutions can control damage and ensures proper tools and techniques are used. How soon should you begin smoke damage cleanup and bring in the experts? As soon as possible! The longer you wait, the more time-consuming and costly the restoration work can be. Central Florida Restoration Solutions is just a phone call away!
How to Detect Fire and Smoke Damage
Fire causes direct heat damage to your home. When a fire reaches a high enough temperature, it can melt or warp even the most durable building materials. Apparent damage from the ensuing smoke includes corrosion, discoloration, and paint yellowing. Other types of damage that aren’t as noticeable include structural, electrical, chemical, and water damage.
There are five types of smoke damage.
- Wet smoke – refers to thick, black smoke and fumes from low heat and smoldering flames, typically plastic and rubber products. It has a strong unpleasant smell and a greasy texture that makes cleaning up difficult.
- Dry smoke – happens with high-temperature fires that spread quickly. It’s usually caused by burning paper or wood, and the residue left behind is powdery, making it relatively easier to clean up.
- Fuel oil smoke – arises from burnt oils and petroleum, so it’s rarely found inside a house. Its residue is thick and sticky and attaches itself to just about every surface it comes near.
- Complex fire smoke – has a greasy yellow residue and arises from objects made from natural and synthetic materials.
- Protein smoke – occurs when organic matter like food is burnt during a fire. It’s common in kitchen fires and can discolor painted and other finished surfaces.
Not all smoke damage is visible so you shouldn’t assume it doesn’t exist just because you don’t see it. In fact, you can more easily detect smoke damage from the odors in your home after a fire.
Why Quick Action is Necessary for Smoke Damage
Ash and soot are the usual results of fire and smoke. When surfaces, clothing, carpets, furniture, and other household items are exposed to soot and ash for an extended time without restoration, they can be permanently harmed. You might notice wall discoloration and permanent stains on porous materials like cushions, clothes, and draperies.
Time is always of the essence when it comes to smoke damage. The sooner you call in a restoration expert, the more likely you are to prevent permanent damage. For instance, porous items and those made from synthetic fibers need intervention within minutes to be saved. Painted walls and flooring should be restored in no more than a day or two, usually sooner. A professional will quickly assess the damage, mitigate your Central Florida home, and return it to its previous state.
Can You Clean Up Smoke Damage On Your Own?
While restoration work should be left to the pros, there are some steps you can take to help get the process started.
After a fire, your house needs to be thoroughly ventilated to allow smoke particles to dissipate and exit the structure. Other immediate steps you can take include:
- Removing obvious debris.
- Placing commercial odor neutralizing products around the house to help get rid of the smoke’s smell and reduce the chances of cross-contamination.
- Vacuuming small areas of soot with a shop vac if you have one. But be careful not to press down on the residue.
- Wiping soot from walls and ceilings with a dry sponge, vinegar, or paint thinner.
- Cleaning some household items.
- Turning off the HVAC system to keep smoke from circulating through the house.
- Turning on the HVAC system once your home’s clear of significant smoke to distribute fresh air.
Fortunately, your quick response can minimize damage and help salvage treasured items, but ultimately, most cases of smoke damage require professional clean-up, as they often need special cleaning agents or partial building reconstruction.
The Smoke Damage Restoration Process
A house fire is devastating. It not only damages your home’s physical structure but also affects your overall state of well-being.
Fires start in numerous ways, including from cooking, electrical equipment, portable heaters, candles, flammable liquids, and faulty wiring. Though beginning the process of moving forward after a house fire can be challenging, it’s imperative to take immediate action.
Putting your trust in a professional restoration company to address any smoke damage in your house is one of the best things you can do to lessen your stress. Hiring a remediation company that’s handled countless restoration projects ensures thorough cleaning and safety. And you can rest easy knowing you’re working with trained pros who have the tools and knowledge needed to restore your home to its pre-fire condition.
Most, if not all, homeowners who attempt to deal with smoke damage on their own often have little or no experience doing so. So, while it’s great if you perform some cleanup within the first 24 hours to reduce further devastation, professionals follow a much more detailed protocol for preparing, cleaning, and completing smoke damage repairs.
For one, they clean your home’s interior and exterior at a deeper level, eliminating odor-infused materials and objects that are non-salvageable. They use chemical sponges and professional cleaning agents to remove smoke damage. And since many times smoke damage isn’t visible, they use professional-grade cleaning tools and techniques to remove any hidden odor sources.
Step-by-Step Process of Smoke Damage Remediation
Here are just some of the steps a smoke remediation and restoration company takes to restore your property:
- Ventilation: Professionals use industrial-strength air moving equipment to remove contaminated air from your home, reducing the amount of smoke damage your belongings are subjected to.
- Smoke contamination: Special dry cleaning soot sponges are used to remove loose smoke contamination.
- Complete cleanup: A thorough cleanup with specially formulated products is used to clean carpeting and upholstery after they’ve been vacuumed with a heavy-duty cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter.
- Neutralize acids: An alkaline cleaner neutralizes acids present in soot.
- Specialized equipment: Eliminates various odors from affected areas.
Before starting any cleanup, remediation technicians inspect each room in your house. They perform tests that determine the extent of the fire, smoke, and water damage. They also inspect your home’s framing and flooring to assess safety, what caused the fire, and what type of fires erupted. This comprehensive evaluation helps them develop an action plan for restoring your Central Florida home, inside and outside.
Next, the crew boards up broken or missing windows and doors. They cover the roof with a tarp or other plastic material to maintain security and protect the house and its belongings from further damage.
Once the prep work’s complete, the “real” work begins. Qualified restoration technicians remove soiled items such as ruined furniture and appliances from the house. If there’s excessive water damage from putting out the fire, water removal and restoration work begins immediately. Once the majority of the water’s removed, dehumidifiers and other equipment are used to remove any remaining moisture.
After the experts eliminate water, it’s easier to move around your home and begin cleaning hard surfaces. Specialized equipment and modern techniques remove soot and smoke damage from surfaces such as walls, countertops, and furniture.
- Special tools and techniques designed to remove smoke particles from household items such as curtains and furniture are used to effectively clean those materials. If you try to use a home vacuum to do this cleanup, you can cause further damage by pushing the smoke particles and soot even deeper into the material.
- Your bedding and clothing can be smoke contaminated even if inside closed closets and drawers. Consumer detergents may remove some of the smell, but in many cases, commercial cleaning detergents are needed to deal with strong odors.
- Cleaning wood furniture is problematic. If you use the wrong cleaning products, you could end up stripping the finish. Some cleaning products rust metal frames. Professional remediation specialists have extensive knowledge of which products to use on wood furniture and other surfaces.
- Because hardwood floors are porous, smoke particles easily penetrate and stay trapped in them. In some cases, you might have to refinish a floor or replace it entirely if there’s extensive damage. Other times, a simple mopping and deodorizing does the trick.
Professionals also clean restorable items to the best of their ability and restore electronic components if possible.
Final touches in the smoke remediation process involve repairing interior and exterior sections of your home. These repairs include everything from drywall replacement and painting to carpet installation and complete reconstruction.
How long the restoration process takes depends on the size of your home and the extent of the damage. Some jobs are finished in a few days; others can take several months or more.
Your Smoke Damage Remediation Questions Answered
We’re often asked if water damage restoration is needed in addition to smoke damage remediation. The answer is often yes, as water is used to put out house fires. If the fire was widespread, the amount of water needed to put it out would be substantial.
Homeowners also question what they should do if personal property is damaged. In nearly all cases, cleaning and restoring personal belongings is a part of the remediation work. Rest assured that Central Florida Restoration Solutions is skilled in saving smoke-damaged furniture, electronics, family heirlooms, and more!
Smoke and Fire Damage Removal
Even the smallest fire that’s extinguished quickly can cause smoke damage, including to your home’s structure. That’s why starting the remediation process immediately is so essential to reducing the level of damage. Working with a professional smoke damage remediation specialist ensures damages are quickly assessed and a custom plan is devised to ensure your home’s completely clear of fire-related damages. They’ll also help you decide which items should be cleaned and which ones should be discarded and replaced.
CFRS is Central Florida’s most trusted fire damage remediation company. Our promise to you is to make the restoration process as stress-free as possible. If your home has recently suffered fire damage, you can count on us to provide speedy service that takes advantage of every modern tool and technique to lessen the damage, limit further damage, and reduce costs.
In addition to smoke damage services, we’re Central Florida’s go-to source for water damage and mold damage, two problems you may also need to deal with after a house fire. Our advanced remediation methods restore your home as quickly as possible, ensuring the least disruption to your home and life. To learn more about all our services and how we can help you avoid future costly repairs, contact CFRS today.