Fire Damage FAQ What is Soot

Fire Damage FAQ: What is Soot?

The threat after a house fire can disastrously continue even if the flames have been put out. Smoke and soot damage is responsible for thousands of premature deaths, heart and asthma attacks in the United States and other countries. It can easily spread to your entire property and causes discoloration of walls and ceilings.

In addition, soot can cause smoke odor since it will sink in all property contents and remain for long periods of time. So in this article, “What is soot?”, a frequently asked question of most homeowners will be discussed as well as other important information that you need to know about it. 

 What is Soot?

  • A black, fine particle that is commonly termed a type of particulate matter (PM) is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. Even smaller than dust and mold particles.
  • Because of its size, it can only be detected with an electron microscope. 
  • It is the result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuel and becomes the black residue that sticks around and accumulates after a fire.
  • When you burn wood, oil, coal, or other fuels, the residue which is mostly carbon travels through the air and stays into the surrounding environment.
  • It comes in different states of matter: solid, liquid, or gas (“aerosol”).
  • The soot particles may contain chemical compounds or carcinogens such as chromium, arsenic, cadmium.
  • The black and brownish powder contains some harmful elements like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and methane.

Soot Exposure 

Chimney sweeps probably have the highest occupational soot exposure. Anyone who works where organic materials are burned as well as brick masons, heating-unit service personnel, building demolition personnel, and horticulturists, may be exposed. People may also be at risk of exposure to soot from particulate emissions from any combustion source, fireplaces, engine exhaust, and furnaces.

Dangers of Soot Exposure

People may expose themselves to soot by inhalation and ingestion. Moreover, it can be absorbed through the skin and eyes. Soot particles pose a wide range of environmental and health risks.

 Air pollution from smoke, including soot, greatly contributes to the indoor air quality of your home, in addition to leaving unpleasant odors and stains behind. 

 And because soot particles are so small, they can easily enter deep into the lungs without even knowing it.  Soot can cause breathing problems including aggravated asthma, bronchitis, heart diseases, and even cancer. The most vulnerable population for the dangers of soot include infants, the elderly, and people who have breathing issues.

 

DIY Tips For Soot Clean-up

Whatever the cause of soot in your home, be it just from a simple wood-burning or from wildfire, ensure that your home is safe and clean once you enter. Proper clean-up and restoration from fire damage professionals are a must. Nevertheless, you can use the following clean-up soot tips for your home.

  1. Always remember to use safety gear such as masks or an air-purifying respirator and nitrile gloves before dealing with the soot or residues.
  2. Avoid touching your face while cleaning and wearing your gloves.
  3. Wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from particles.
  4. Use a strong vacuum to get rid of loose particles on all areas and surfaces.
  5. A lambswool duster may help to dust off particles, depending on the amount of dry soot and the sizes of the surfaces.
  6. Move the small objects to another place and clean them after an extensive vacuum cleaning is done.
  7. Deodorize, repaint, or varnish wooden materials in your house. You can use a dry chemical sponge to clean off the wood then wipe it with a damp cloth. You may consider using a polish or conditioner for wood after it has totally dried.
  8. When cleaning hard surfaces like floors and countertops, use water and a specialized cleaner. Put them in a spray bottle then spray the cleaning solution before wiping the surface. Rinse afterward with clean water.
  9. To sanitize and deodorize, you can use a natural remedy. After cleaning the area, use a mixture of water, baking soda, and vinegar to eliminate the strong smell.
  10. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after the clean-up.

 

Ensure Safety of Your Health with Superior Restoration

You don’t need to deal with smoke and soot alone since it may endanger your home and especially your health. It will take much time and effort to clean up all the residue and prevent possible side effects. However, hiring fire and smoke damage restoration experts will ensure the safe use of your residence again.  

Our expert teams have quality equipment and tools to help you with full smoke and soot clean up. Contact our local office today! We are available round the clock to serve you better.

Fireplace Safety Tips - Preventing Fire Damage at Home

Fireplace Safety Tips – Preventing Fire Damage at Home

In this season, when the cold, bracing weather begins to set in, nothing beats the beauty and warmth of a nice, crackling fire in a fireplace. However, the joy and warmth you receive from this fire can lead to a disaster when safety precautions are not followed. Keep in mind that heating equipment, such as a fireplace, is one of the leading causes of house fires in winter. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one-half of the home heating fires are reported during the months of December, January, and February. So, to enjoy the heat and smell of a crackling fire during this cold season and prevent injuries and fire damage in your home, follow these simple fireplace safety tips and precautions

 

What Causes Fireplace Fires

Fireplaces fail because of these reasons;

  • Blacked chimney flue or damper
  • Flying embers or sparks
  • Damaged fireplace components such as metal caps or missing bricks
  • Overloaded fires
  • Flammable items are too close to the fireplace

 

Fireplace Safety Tips that Help Prevent Fire Damage

Preventing fire damage from a fireplace begins with proper maintenance and precautions. 

  • Before using your fireplace this winter, have it inspected or maintained by a professional. 
  • Hire a qualified sweep to clean and remove any creosote and soot buildup from your fireplace and chimney. Furthermore, debris and other materials can accumulate and block your chimney, causing inadequate ventilation of your fireplace. 
  • Regularly inspect the chimney cap for any signs of damage. Replace or repair if necessary. 
  • Ensure that the chimney has a cap to prevent animals or debris from accumulating inside the chimney.
  • Do not throw in the trash, cardboard, and other debris inside your fireplace. These products can discharge toxins when burned in a fireplace. 
  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Wet or green wood can produce more fire that can be too much for the damper to handle. Also, cut the wood to the correct length.
  • Have a spark guard installed around the fireplace to prevent embers from coming out. 
  • Keep all flammable materials, like books, newspapers, furniture, and fabric at least 3 feet away from the fireplace.
  • Never leave your burning fireplace unattended. Always extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving home. 
  • Keep children and pets away from the fireplace when it is in use. 
  • Use the proper tools like a brush, shovel, tongs, poker, or a long carrier to maintain the fire. 
  • Clean your firebox and remove ashes regularly or at least once a week during the colder months to prevent ash and soot from accumulating in your fireplace.
  • Close the damper when the embers have completely cooled down. 
  •  Place a fire extinguisher in the room where the fireplace is located.
  • Install smart devices like smoke detectors, alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors to alert you of any possible house fire. Furthermore, regularly inspect these devices to ensure that they are in good working condition. 

 

Safely Start A Fire 

  • Remove the ashes from the firebox before stacking some logs in your fireplace. But be sure that the ashes have already cooled down to prevent injuries. Dispose of old ashes and embers in a tightly sealed metal container. 
  • Open the chimney damper before starting a fire to ensure proper ventilation.
  • Ensure that your fireplace has a grate for safety purposes and to allow adequate airflow necessary to sustain combustion.
  • Use some crumpled paper and add some kindling underneath the grate to start a small fire. 
  • Place the logs at the back of the fireplace on top of the grate. Arranging the logs at the rear of the place will help prevent sparks and embers from getting out of the fireplace box.
  • Use a match or a lighter to start a fire. Remember not to use any flammable liquid in starting a fire. 
  • Keep your kindling burning until the wood catches fire and as the fireplace heat, gradually add more logs.
  • Always keep the fire small to lessen creosote buildup and generate less smoke.
  • Tightly close the metal-mesh screen or glass fireplace door to keep the hot embers inside the fireplace. 
  • You may consider opening your window slightly to allow fresh air intake. Outside air will help the fire to burn efficiently.

 

Professional Fire Damage Cleaning And Restoration Services

Following the above safety tips and precautions can help reduce the risk of a house fire and allow you to enjoy the cold weather of winter. But, if your fireplace fails and your home or building suffers from fire damage, contact a professional fire and smoke damage restoration company, like Superior Restoration, immediately. Fire, smoke, and soot can cause severe damage to properties. Thus, a quick response is crucial. 

Superior Restoration offers 24/7 emergency restoration services to help restore a fire-damaged home or business. We have professionals ready to respond and attend to your emergency. Contact our office today for quality fire damage cleaning and restoration services.

How To Remove Smoke Odor After A Fire

How To Remove Smoke Odor After A Fire

Fire is considered to be the most dangerous natural disaster that can happen in a home. The fire alone can destroy every building material and the household item it touches. But what is even more troublesome are its detrimental consequences; potential water damage, soot pollution, smoke damage, etc. The danger of fire continues even after it has been extinguished because of its byproducts that can cause damage to your property and the most common aftermath of a fire is its prevalent smoke odor. 

When smoke permeates in porous materials like carpet and furniture, the odor that it leaves behind can linger for a long time and can compromise the indoor air quality of a home and result in health issues of the occupants. Knowing its danger, it is important to take quick actions to remove smoke odor effectively and efficiently. 

 

How To Remove Smoke Odor After A Fire 

Getting rid of the smoke odor after a fire requires a lot of effort. Some factors like how big the fire was, how long were the materials got exposed to smoke and what products were involved can have an impact on how severe the damage is. But that does not mean you can’t do anything to remove smoke odor on your own. There are a few practices that can help to decrease the level of smoke odor in your property. 

Below are steps to remove smoke odor after a fire

Step 1: Air Out Your Property

Open doors and windows to allow fresh air to enter your home. Set up fans near windows and doors so they will pull clean air to get into your home and to have proper air circulation. Ventilating your home after a fire helps reduce smoke odor at the same time dry out areas that have been wet during the extinguishing process. 

Step 2: Use Positive Pressure Ventilation

If the first step is not applicable to the level of smoke odor in your home, blow out your home using positive pressure. It is more effective than opening windows and doors or using exhaust fans. 

Positive pressure is when the air pressure is greater than that of the environment that surrounds it, which causes the air inside to leave its premises. 

  • At the front door of your home, set up the largest fan you can have and face it inwards.
  • Close all windows and doors, leaving only one window open as an exhaust and turn on the fan on its highest speed. Remove screens for better air flowing. 
  • Blow out the room for 15 minutes. 
  • When done, close all the doors and windows to that area and move to another room.
  • Repeat the process until all affected areas have been aired out. 

Step 3: Remove Fire-Damaged Items

Remove fire-damaged items from the premises to help get rid of the odor faster. This means removing all items that have been damaged by fire, such as furniture, carpets, insulation, cabinets, drywall, and others. Depending on the severity of the damage, an item may be cleaned or discarded. 

Curtains and other windows treatments on the window should be removed. You can either wash them or have them dry cleaned. Alternatively, hang them outside to air them out. Other fabric materials like pillows, clothes, towels, and blankets should also be removed as smoke can stick into fabrics. 

Step 4: Deep Clean Your Property

For you to completely remove the smoke odor, it is necessary to clean every affected area of your home. Here are the steps to ensure that your home is thoroughly cleaned. 

 

Cleaning Solid Surfaces

Some solid surfaces that you may need to clean are baseboards, tables, chairs, shelves, cabinets, window sills, and tile or wood floors. Wash them thoroughly using a solution made of water, detergent and white vinegar. Rinse these surfaces with clean water and wipe them down. Soot particles may have left on walls and ceilings. Clean them as well with the solution and allow them to dry.

Cleaning Carpets and Upholstery

Smoke particles can deeply penetrate into the fabric of your carpet and upholstery. To eliminate the smoke smell, sprinkle some amount of baking soda on the affected area, and let it sit for several hours or overnight for better results. Then, use a high-efficiency vacuum machine to remove the baking soda and other debris. 

You can also clean your carpet and upholstery with steam cleaning. You just need to be cautious when using steam cleaning for silk materials. Because they can get damaged. 

Cleaning Windows

Smoke gathers in windows and create a recurring smell even after the cleanup process. Wash them with dish soap and rinse them with clean water. Pay attention to frames and window panes as smoke can stick to these locations. 

Cleaning The HVAC System

Smoke particles can seep into your property’s ductwork and contaminate your HVAC system. This can lead to poor indoor air quality, thus it is necessary to change all the filters, including furnace filters. It is also best to have your HVAC system inspected to ensure that the air quality of your home is safe. 

Step 5: Repaint Your Walls

If the paint on your walls is holding the smoke odor, then you have to repaint the walls to remove the odor. 

First, you have to wash them with a cleaning product that has ammonia or glycol. These products are effective in neutralizing odor. Rinse them well and allow them to dry. After that, apply a paint primer that seals bad odor and finish the job with latex paint. 

Professional Smoke Removal Services

Removing the smoke odor after a fire is often complex and requires specialized equipment. Thus, it is best left with professionals. Experienced professionals have the skills and equipment to efficiently and safely remove smoke odor from your property. These restoration professionals will ensure that your home is smelling smoke-free and fresh again. 

For smoke odor removal services, contact Superior Restoration. We also offer water and fire damage restoration services.