Here’s a simple but unfortunate truth — hurriedly jumping into the task of cleaning your home after a fire can actually be far more disastrous than helpful. The simple truth is that soot and smoke-affected items need special care. It’s so easy, for instance, to wind up accidentally rubbing soot even deeper into an item of clothing, a piece of furniture or whatnot.
It is for this reason that you should always seek the assistance of a professional, full-service fire restoration service. Hopefully, you have homeowner’s insurance. If so, you will want to go through the insurance entity by letting them first inspect your home and then recommend a suitable business.
The beauty of restoration companies is that almost all of them provide free assessments. This translates to a completely free opportunity to get valuable insights regarding what cleaning chemicals to use, what items can be replaced, what items must be thrown out, etc.
Does this mean you must sit back and do absolutely nothing while you wait? Absolutely not. There are certain steps you can take before the restoration company even arrives, and these steps are what we want to review today.
Ways To Prevent Added Damage
First and foremost, refrain from re-entering your home until you are given explicit permission from a firefighter or marshal.
- Once you gain reentry, you need to survey the situation. Is there a LOT of water damage? If so, you need to shut all the windows and run a dehumidifier until the professionals arrive. The goal is to prevent the water from further damaging carpets, tapestries, walls and other vulnerable components of your home.
- If the water damage is minimal, you might want to do the reserve — open all windows and even turn on some fans. This will let air freely flow in and out of your home, thus helping to at least ease some of the smoke congestion. Keep in mind this is a preliminary step. Actual removal of smoke and soot requires a lot more work.
- If your home contains any brass or copper items, then clean them right away with an appropriate cleaner. This is mandatory because brass and copper exposed to smoke and soot can go bad in under 24 hours.
- Place some form of foil or wrap under all furniture legs. Also, remove any portable rugs from wet carpet and place them outside or somewhere else that is dry and preferably warm.
- If you are lucky enough to find any completely dry and clean items still left, then carefully cover them and put them in a safe location.
Additional Steps To Take
Ideally, trained professionals should perform the following steps. However, we understand that you might be limited in your options. For that reason, we want to give you a general idea of things that must be done.
Soot is an oily substance that easily stains. It is for this reason that soot must be removed before any attempt at genuine cleaning and deodorization can be done. The best way to remove soot entails using a high-end, heavy-duty furnace vacuum. Keep in mind that soot cannot be vacuumed up like dirt. You must hold the nozzle a few inches ABOVE the surface. This is why it has to be an especially strong vacuum.
Odor Removal From Objects
After you remove soot, you must then remove the smell of smoke. This is a tough one to do manually, simply because the type of chemical to use differs based on the object in question. However, the best solution is known as ozone treatment. It’s a technology available to fire restoration specialists and dry cleaners. It uses powerful oxidizers to permanently disintegrate smoke molecules and thus permanently eliminate odors.
Odor Removal From Your Home
Unfortunately, removing odor from your home — and this means removing it from walls, HVAC ducts and carpeting — requires a significant amount of more work. You can scrub, wash and spray, but ultimately, the only way to permanently cleanse your home requires thermal fogging. This process involves heating high-end deodorizers to create a fog that covers your entire home for several days.
Most Important Step
The most important step is and will always be to contact a fire restoration company, whether directly or via your insurance company. There’s plenty you can do to aid in the cleanup and restoration process, but for full fire damage restoration, you will have to eventually contact professionals.