The remnants of a fire may linger long after the fire department has left. Soot and smoke damage remain, in addition to the damage actually caused by the fire, and it’s important to recognize both as separate hazards when restoration is the next step in recovery.
Soot is a visible, oily substance, which stains easily. Smoke is the invisible threat, which intrudes into all portions of the home, and may remain if not properly addressed. Here are some basic things you should be aware of:
- Insurance Coverage: Odds are if you own a home, you have fire insurance coverage. It is a good idea to know exactly what the coverage entails before a fire incident occurs.
- Professional Results: Many websites offer do-it-yourself methods for removing smoke. Most are for cigarette smoke, but little are effective when properly removing smoke after a fire. A company who deals with professional restoration after a fire is usually the best option.
- Reputation: The professional you hire should know what they are doing, and have a reputable record of accomplishment with success. Some companies are highly recommended, while others seem to do only what they must and care little about the result.
- Trapped Odor: Smoke, like sand, seems to get into everything. The negative air space, which is the air trapped within your walls, is the most common hiding spot. Thermal fogging removes the trapped smoke from porous materials, such as wood, and is the most effective. A sealant will be used for air ducts, and there is no way to effectively clean them, and prevent the odor from returning. In the attic, insulation replacement is required as there is no way to remove the odor.
- Carpeting: In most cases, replacing the carpet and padding is best. For some lighter incidents, cleaning the carpet before and after the restoration project removes the odor.
- Clothing & Furniture: Ozone treatment offers the most thorough advantages, with the best results. The deodorization produces an oxidizing agent, which breaks down the smoke at a molecular level. Dry cleaning is recommended for best cleaning, but deodorization needs completed first to ensure the odor is not set into the fabric.
- Not eco-friendly: Unfortunately, there is not a restoration or removal method, which is completely friendly to the environment. Both soot and smoke permeate what they are exposed to, and natural ventilation and the hottest water goes only so far.
- Phantom Smell: Sometimes long after the fire, you trick yourself into thinking the odor remains. Ask someone to verify the odor is actually gone, and allow yourself to heal from the experience.
Properly trained fire restoration professionals have the knowledge and training to effectively remove the smoke damage. Once you contact your insurance agent and get the process started, all parties will work with you to get you back on your feet and back into your home.