A Few Tips For Dealing With Smoke Damage In Your Home

Posted on: 21 March 2016

If you've recently had a small fire in your house that created a lot of smoke, but very little fire or water damage, you may think the cleanup is going to be a breeze. However, cleaning up smoke damage is a tricky process. Smoke is acidic and oily. It damages metal, paper, and fabrics. If you don't clean it up quickly, and do it the right way, some of the belongings in your house may not be salvageable. Here are a few things to know about cleaning up smoke damage.

Call A Damage Restoration Professional

The best way to save your belongings and get rid of smoke odor for good is to hire a professional contractor. Even if you want to save money and do all the labor yourself, you still need professional advice on how to go about getting rid of the smoke. You may also need to buy specialty products to get the job done. For instance, you don't want to use a water-based cleaner on drywall or plaster because it will cause the soot to seep deeper into your wall. You also want to avoid odor removal products you buy at your grocery store.

Those only mask the odor, and the smoke smell will eventually return. Instead, you'll need professional-strength chemical removers designed to interact with smoke and soot molecules to break them apart. Professionals have access to all the special cleaners and heavy-duty fans and vacuums to get the job done as quickly as possible. For instance, the best option may be to have a contractor use a thermal fogging machine. This machine produces a hot fog of chemicals that fill your house just as the smoke did. The chemicals react with the smoke particles and neutralize their odor.

Turn Off Your HVAC System

You want to turn off your air conditioner or furnace because smoke will circulate through it and it may damage your ductwork. Instead of using your HVAC to clear the air, place fans in the windows to draw the smoke outside. Once you turn your HVAC unit back on, watch the filter closely. You may need to change it frequently during the first several days after the fire. If smoke wafted into the ductwork, you'll probably need to hire a professional to address the problem since it is nearly impossible to reach the insides of the ducts to scrub them clean. You may need to replace the ducts or let a contractor treat them with chemicals to seal the smoke odors and soot in place.

Clean Brass And Fabrics

Smoke etches brass if it is in contact with it for several hours. Therefore, you want to clean your brass items right away with a regular brass cleaner. Fabrics are another area of concern since they hold onto smoke and odor. You can take your drapes and good clothing to a dry cleaner. It may take a few runs through the laundry for your everyday clothes to be restored to normal. Use a product in the wash designed to remove smoke odors. Getting the smell and soot out of your couch will be more difficult, but if you work carefully and use a smoke-neutralizing cleaner, you may be able to save your furniture as long as you don't get it so wet that it grows mold before it can dry out.

The same is true of carpeting. First, vacuum the soot out of your carpet, being very careful not to apply pressure with an upright model or a beater brush because that will drive the soot in even further. It's best if you pass the vacuum wand just above the fibers. Vacuum up as much soot as you can initially, and then have your carpet thoroughly cleaned once all the repairs are finished.

Cleaning up smoke damage is a labor-intensive job that needs to be started as soon as possible after the fire. However, you don't want to enter your home until it is cleared by the fire department. Also, if you plan to do the work yourself, don't forget to wear protective gear so you don't inhale soot particles or smoke as you work. Contact a restoration company, like Serclean Inc, if you need more help.