Fire and Smoke Damage: How To Deal With It
Experiencing a close call with even a small fire can be a traumatizing event for individuals and families. If a fire is caught in time, many homes will not experience any structural damage that makes the house unlivable. However, even if a house is still standing, there is often times damage from the fire and its smoke that requires attention and repair in order to make the space safe and comfortable again. Following fire and smoke damage, there are steps you can take to restore your home to its previous condition, as well as ways in which professional restoration companies can step in to offer assistance and help determine fire and smoke damage clean up costs.
Signs of Fire and Smoke Damage
Following a fire, there will likely be a number of signs to look out for that can help you determine what is considered smoke damage. One of the most obvious signs includes discoloration. Immediately following a fire, you will be able to see damage on your ceilings, walls, and other surfaces as a result of smoke damage in the form of discoloration in stains. Discoloration and stains will become more obvious in the few days that follow the fire, taking on a yellow color. Metal surfaces in the home will indicate smoke damage by becoming rusted and displaying other signs of corrosion. Rust and corrosion will begin to present just a few hours after the fire. Any plastic surfaces in your home that come into contact with smoke or fire will likely experience warping, a change in shape, in addition to discoloration. Lastly, countertops, often constructed from porous materials like granite or marble, usually become discolored from soot. Unfortunately, this damage is likely permanent.
In addition to discoloration, smoke or fire damage is defined by a strong, smoky odor. Fabric items like clothes, furniture, curtains, and carpets are particularly at risk for trapping smoke residue, thus giving them this odor. In many cases, fully cleaning and deodorizing household items to remove the smell requires the help of professional cleaning services.
Following a fire, you should also look for electrical damage, another sign of what is considered smoke damage. Examine all electrical wiring throughout your home to see if any systems have been compromised, paying close attention to cords, outlets, breaker boxes, and fuses. Also, examine any appliances in your home that may have come into contact with smoke or fire. Failing to take this important step following a fire can leave you at risk for yet another incident.
Finally, another sign of fire and smoke damage in your home might be interior damage in the form of degradation to the house’s insulation, ventilation systems, framing, and wall studs. Pay close attention to your HVAC system in particular, as improper cleaning can cause harmful smoke particles to travel throughout your home and put your family at risk for respiratory issues.
Areas Most Prone to Fire and Smoke Damage
There are a few key areas to pay close attention to following smoke or a fire, as they are prone to experiencing damage.
Walls and windows: smoke is naturally drawn to areas with a lower temperature, making exterior walls and windows vulnerable. It is not unusual to find a great deal of smoke residue on outside walls and behind curtains.
Ceilings: we all know that hot air rises. So it won’t come as a surprise that following a fire, ceilings tend to have a large amount of smoke residue. The highest concentration of smoke residue will be found directly above where the fire began.
Corners: When smoke particles have an electrical charge, called ionization, they are pulled towards certain surfaces. With particularly strong electrical charges, such as those resulting from burning plastic, the smoke residue will take on the appearance of cobwebs, found in the corners of rooms where the ceilings and walls come together.
Repairing Fire and Smoke Damage
Smoke and fire damage cleanup following fire and smoke damage, it is usually the best option to enlist the help of trained professionals experienced in handling these difficult situations. Professionals will work with you to provide comprehensive fire and smoke damage clean up costs. Professionals will typically engage in the following fire damage cleanup steps and fire damage restoration tips:
- Ensure ventilation: following a fire, it’s important to prevent soot particles from further burrowing into surfaces of your home. The first step to fire damage cleanup is to ensure proper ventilation so that specialists can remove harmful dust and soot from the air. Once this has been done, it is then safe to get to work.
- Sort belongings: after a fire, some belongings can be saved, while others must be disposed of. During fire damage cleanup, specialists will examine the items in your home and make recommendations as to what should be discarded given their level of damage.
- Deep cleaning: Very important during fire damage cleanup is deep cleaning of walls, ceilings, and floors to remove all smoke residue to ensure occupants don’t continue to breathe in these harmful particulars. This cleaning will also remove the smoky odor likely present in your home. The cleaning process often includes a cleaning of the HVAC system so that soot won’t travel throughout the home next time you use your heating or cooling systems.
Costs of Fire and Smoke Damage Repair
The cost of fixing fire and smoke damage depends largely on the extent of damage and the size of your home. Smoke damage clean up costs will be lower in cases where only a few damaged items or appliances need to be removed. On the other hand, expect higher fire and smoke damage clean up costs in cases where smoke has caused significant damage to HVAC systems, ceilings, walls, and floors, and there is extensive soot building on carpeting and other fabrics. It is important to contact a professional to discuss your options and specific fire and smoke damage clean up costs. Specialists will also provide helpful fire damage restoration tips.