What happens only minutes after the disaster?
Fire and smoke damage can be devastating to personal property and structures. Quick action is the only way to minimize the destruction.
Immediately after a fire, soot residue settles onto the property. Discoloration of porous materials is permanent, but other surfaces may be properly cleaned to remove the discoloration. Acidic soot begins staining other surfaces if not treated quickly.
Within hours all surfaces begin to suffer from fire and smoke damage. Wooden furniture may require refinishing. Metal begins to rust, pit and corrode. Painted walls begin to yellow. Clothing can become permanently stained. And finally, flooring may require refinishing or replacement.
If left untreated, within weeks the restoration process will take longer and cost more. Prolonged soot exposure permanently harms all surfaces and embeds in fibers. Replacement of property may be the best option at this point. The structure may continue deteriorating if not properly restored.
IICRC suggests the following steps after the incident:
- Remember safety comes first. Do not enter the property without proper work gloves and appropriate respiratory protection. Exposure to soot residue causes respiratory distress and other medical emergencies.
- Bring along a few box fans. Upon entering the property open the windows and place the box fans in the windows to force out the contaminated air and dust. Proper ventilation helps to prevent further smoke damage and reduces potential injury to people.
- Remove loose smoke contamination with a professional dry cleaning soot sponge.
- Clean every surface with soap and water. Begin at the top and work down to the floor. Be sure to get inside cabinets and cupboards.
- Using a high efficiency vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter, vacuum upholstery and carpet. A good filtration system on a high efficiency vacuum prevents the soot from being blown back into the cleaned space. Clean or change the filter regularly.
- Launder bedding, clothes, curtains, and other washable materials. An alkaline cleaner neutralizes the acid found in the soot. Fine materials should be professionally dry-cleaned by a dry-cleaner who is experienced in smoke damaged articles.
- Clean the exterior walls and eaves using a water hose attached to the proper cleaner. Agitate and loosen stuck-on soot. The smoke damage to the outside of the property will continue until the soot is removed.
Though heavy residues require the assistance of professional restoration technicians, a certified SERVPRO technician may be contacted for any amount of smoke damage. Improper processes can further harm the property or belongings.
Our IICRC certified SERVPRO technicians have training and experience in the techniques needed to restore the property. If structural distortion or warping has occurred, it may be necessary to consult a general contractor. Luckily, most insurance companies will cover the cost of the restoration, less your deductible, so get started today to get the property back into original condition.