The Fire Service may be gone but without proper immediate response, the real damage and impact to homes and businesses can linger for years. Getting your residential or commercial property back to its pre-loss condition requires professional restoration services. This is not the job for a do-it-yourself property owner or a fly-by-night contractor. Smoke and odor restoration can be very complex and troublesome in ways only a certified restoration firm can handle. Long term Real-Estate records can flag properties in impacted areas and if property owners cannot provide documented professional mitigation service records, the value of the property can be adversely affected further increasing the devastating costs.
- Full assessment of the damage to impacted property, much of the effects of smoke and soot are not always visible, only the odor.
- Ventilation of affected structures requires more than just box fans and open windows, this can further impact a home or business worsening the odor.
- Clean from top to bottom. Start with the ceilings, walls, and fixtures, and work your way down to the contents of the room, then to the floor utilizing chemical and soot sponges with proper solutions created specifically for the acidic resinous nature of soot and ash.
- HEPA Vacuum floors and upholstery, properly designed industrial vacuum contain contaminated soot and ash so they are not exhausted back into the air.
- Some draperies, clothing, and machine-washable items may be specially laundered using a mild alkaline cleaner to neutralize the acid in the soot. Fine clothing should be dry cleaned by a fire restoration-certified dry cleaner. The local dry cleaning shop does not have the equipment or expertise to clean clothing items safely and effectively.
- Most exterior walls (brick, stone, wood, paint, siding) and eaves can be cleaned by pressure spraying with an acid-neutralizing detergent, agitating soot with a soft-bristled brush, pressure washing from bottom to top, then rinsing from top to bottom.
- Check with your insurance company to see if smoke damage from outdoor sources is covered by your policy, a certified firm like Superior Restoration can assist with the claim process.
- If the fire has warped or distorted structural elements of a building Superior Restoration, also a licensed General Contractor, can asses the damage and perform repairs.
Within Minutes: Acid soot residues cause plastics to yellow; small appliances located close to the source of combustion discolor; highly porous materials (marble, alabaster) discolor permanently.
Within Hours: Acid residues stain grout in bathrooms; fiberglass bath fixtures may be yellow; uncoated metals tarnish, counter tops may be yellow; finishes on appliances, particularly refrigerators, may be yellow; furniture finishes may discolor.
Within Days: In time, acid residues cause painted walls to yellow permanently; metal corrodes, pits, and rusts; wood furniture requires refinishing; vinyl flooring requires refinishing or replacement; clothing becomes soot-stained; upholstery stains permanently.
Within Weeks: Restoration costs escalate tremendously. Synthetic carpet fibers may yellow or discolor permanently; silver plate is corroded permanently; glass, crystal, and china may require replacement due to severe etching and pitting caused by prolonged exposure to acid soot residues.
Cleaning up soot residue must be done as quickly as possible. During combustion, soot residue and volatile vapors are carried by rising and expanding air to surfaces throughout a structure and are deposited. This process occurs repeatedly until combustion ends, with soot residue building up on surfaces layer by layer. By the time restoration technicians arrive, lacquer-like soot residue may be quite difficult to dissolve and remove.
In addition to removing residue, ridding your home of its smoky odor is necessary. Professionals use this four-step process to remove odors:
- Remove the source of the odor, as possible, including unsalvageable debris that contributes to odor generation and recontamination of cleaned and deodorized areas.
- Clean salvageable surfaces and items to physically remove odor-causing residue.
- Chase the remaining odor with an odor counteractant. In the case of smoke, create a deodorizing fog or gas that seeks out and combines with odor-causing substances.
- Seal salvageable surfaces that are inaccessible or slightly scorched, not only for aesthetic purposes but primarily to encapsulate odor and prevent progressive recontamination.
Understanding the effects of a fire can help homeowners evaluate the damage to their homes. By learning more about residue clean-up and deodorization after a fire, you can minimize the need for costly repair. Fire and smoke restoration experts can help you return your home and furnishings to a “pre-loss” condition.