Smoke from any type of fire is comprised of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and soot. Depending on what’s burning, many other harmful chemicals also enter the air, and are inhaled into your lungs or latch onto walls, furniture, clothing, ductwork, and other areas.
When it comes to your property, knowing how temperature, the surrounding environment, particle ionization, and airflow patterns affect smoke distribution can help you better restore your property to normal. To better understand how smoke behaves during a fire, review this information from the experts at Aladdin’s Cleaning & Restoration.
Because hot air rises, smoke damage is most commonly found in the following places:
Assuming no strong air currents are flowing through the house, the highest concentration of smoke residue is usually found on the ceiling above the fire.
Cold air sinks below warmer air, opening up a path for the smoke to travel to exterior windows and walls. Even if the fire is concentrated in the center of the room, it’s common to find lots of smoke residue on outside walls.
Homes have furniture, decorations, enclosed spaces and other features that interact with smoke. Sometimes smoke damage is found in seemingly bizarre places, but once you break down what causes it to interact with the surrounding environment, it begins to make sense. For example, smoke damage is often found:
Dresser drawers, closed closets and wall cavities that seem closed off often have more smoke damage than the area where the fire blazed. The reason is because molecules are more excited in warmer air. The rapid movement creates higher energy sufficient enough to carry smoke particles in the air. In cooler air where molecules move more slowly, there’s not enough energy to keep particles aloft, so they fall out of the airstream and onto surfaces in these cooler, relatively enclosed areas.
There’s often a big temperature difference between the room and the space behind the drapes. Because smoke naturally moves to cooler areas, it’s common to find much more smoke residue behind the drapes. Likewise, venetian blinds and pull shades often attract smoke residue more than surrounding surfaces. This makes the smoke damage here a good indicator of the true overall damage.
Smoke particles are often ionized, meaning they possess an electrical charge that attracts them to certain surfaces. That’s why you often find smoke damage in odd places.
Air currents carry smoke and soot away from the fire and deposit residue in interesting ways. For example, smoke damage is often seen: