Smoke damage cleanup may be the most difficult part of fire damage restoration. While fire damaged items are easily disposed of, cleaning soot and ash can not only be messy, but dangerous. It is important to not skip steps when cleaning up after a fire has damaged your home or business.
Follow these steps when dealing with smoke damage cleanup.
1. Smoke Damage Cleanup-Identify The Fire Type
Every fire has a “personality” or type of damage it causes. Some fires have higher oxygen levels, and leave a drier smoke residue. Low oxygen fires, by contrast, leave wet, almost greasy residue behind, which is harder to clean up. Also, it is important to know how the fire was extinguished. If water was used, this can cause pores in the wood of your home or business to open up, absorbing more smoke odor. This is because the water used to put out the fire can cause the humidity to rise by 100% or more.
2. Safety Is #1 During Smoke Damage Cleanup
Smoke is corrosive, and over time, can erode and damage almost anything. In a house or commercial fire, more than just wood burns. Often times, leather furniture, plastics, and even chemicals, have also burned. This can give the smoke a toxic quality that can make it even more dangerous to inhale, even after the fire is long gone. Because of this, wearing a dust mask and gloves (nitrite or heavier gloves) is always a good idea. Be sure to ventilate the building as much as possible. If you think there could be toxic chemicals involved, or are even unsure, you should contact a professional fire restoration company, like Aladdin.
3. Smoke Damage Cleanup Should Be Done Quickly
Of course, safety permitting, the sooner the smoke damage can be cleaned up, the better. According to the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), the smoke damage cleanup timeline looks something like this:
A. 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.
B. Within Hours: Acid residues stain grout in bathrooms; fiberglass bath fixtures may yellow; uncoated metals tarnish; counter tops may yellow; finishes on appliances, particularly refrigerators, may yellow; furniture finishes may discolor.
C. 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.
D. Within Weeks: Restoration costs escalate tremendously. Synthetic carpet fibers may yellow or discolor permanently; silver plate is corroded permanently; glass, crystal, china may require replacement due to severe etching and pitting caused by prolonged exposure to acid soot residues.
How you clean is as important as how fast you clean. There is a wrong way and a right way to clean smoke damage and, if done incorrectly, a house can be tainted with unpleasant odors forever. In fact, there are documents recovered from the 1906 San Francisco fire that still to this day smell of smoke residue. If you have experienced a fire in your home or business, contact your local smoke damage cleanup experts at Aladdin today.