How to Handle Smoke Damage After a Fire
Ask any homeowner who has been forced to deal with the aftermath of a fire in or near their home, and they’ll tell you that, apart from the flames, the most damaging aspect of a fire is, indisputably, the smoke. If you’re lucky enough to survive a fire-related disaster with your home, your health and your family fully intact, congratulations – fires can be extraordinarily devastating, and survival alone is no small feat. However, you still have the serious problem of smoke damage to contend with, and smoke damage restoration is no easy process. Fortunately, there are methods of smoke damage management that can help make your life a little bit easier.
Before you do anything, you should begin by seeking professional smoke damage restoration services. Soot and smoke can be incredibly tenacious, and there can be serious health repercussions if the matter is approached incorrectly, so it pays to invest in the services of a smoke remediation pro who knows how to handle the issue. He or she can accurately assess the extent and nature of the damage in your home, and can give you detailed instructions regarding how to start the clean-up process. That being said, there are several ways to handle smoke damage after a fire on your own.
Begin by ventilating all rooms that have been subjected to smoke. Open all windows and doors and install several large fans to encourage air circulation. This will help remove that smoky odor and loosen soot-caked surfaces for later scrubbing. If any fire-related water damage occurred, you’ll need to dry all surfaces and items as quickly as possible in order to avoid the growth of potentially noxious mold. If you have any questions or concerns, your fire damage specialist can refer you to a water damage professional.
Soot should be removed from all carpets, drapes and upholstery as quickly as possible, before it has a chance to set and ruin the fabric permanently. A good steam cleaning should do the trick; following that, a vacuum cleaner can be used, but be sure not to press the nozzle of the vacuum directly onto the surface of the fabric, as that can force soot even deeper into the fibers. Instead, hold the vacuum near the surface without actually making contact. Odor-neutralizing sprays may be used to remove the odor of smoke from these textiles. If the smell of smoke is particularly heavy or persistent, your fire damage professional may suggest using a special ozone treatment mechanism to cleanse your entire home. Clothing should also be thoroughly laundered, and dry-cleaned if necessary. Badly soiled items may have to be disposed of entirely.
Soot stains can be removed from walls using a powerful, non-water-based cleanser such as rubbing alcohol or paint thinner to counteract the oily stain. Always make sure the room is thoroughly ventilated and that you are wearing protective gear like goggles and gloves before attempting this process on your own. Finally, have your air ducts, including those used for heating, air conditioning and ventilation, professionally cleaned. You may also want to have your insulation inspected for damage, and replaced if necessary.
With these tips in mind, your smoke damage restoration process can be an unqualified success – and your home should be back to normal in no time.