A home fire is one of the most frightening and stressful events a family may experience. And the trauma doesn't end with the fire - post-fire you must deal with what to do with a salvageable home. How will you clean it? How do you know what is safe to keep and what must go? How do you eliminate the smoke smell?
According to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), "You may be anxious to clean your home after a fire, but unless you take time to get professional advice, you may be wasting your efforts or creating further damage."
There is more to cleaning up the damage and residue from a fire than piling things in a dumpster and wiping down the walls with soap and water. A fire and smoke damage restoration professional can assist you in determining what kind of smoke has damaged the home; inspect and evaluate the condition of damaged and undamaged items; and pretest damaged areas to determine which cleaning method(s) will produce the best results.
While smoke may seem like smoke, there are actually several kinds and each brings its own special cleaning needs. Smoke may penetrate the hidden cavities of the home (between walls and flooring), causing hidden damage and odor. Additionally, a restoration professional can determine the extent to which fire, smoke, heat and moisture have damaged your home's structure.
Types of smoke residue include:
- Wet smoke - This is caused by a smoldering, low heat fire. The residue is sticky, "smeary," and has a pungent odor.
- Dry smoke - This is caused by a hot, fast-burning fire. The residue is dry, powdery and small.
- Protein - This residue is very pungent and nearly invisible. It discolors paint and varnish.
- Fuel Oil Soot - This dark, oily residue is difficult to clean.
- Other - Items like tear gas, finger print powder, and fire extinguisher residue also require cleaning.
Once the type of smoke residue has been determined, a restoration professional can help you inspect and inventory your belongings. This may be a difficult process for the homeowner, but an experienced professional can help you determine:
- What is the full extent of the damage?
- What can be restored?
- What must be replaced?
- What is the best method for protecting undamaged areas and belongings?
After these questions are addressed, your restoration professional can apply his or her extensive knowledge of cleaning and remediation to your home and belongings, provide regular updates, thoroughly explain the process, and answer your questions.