Having a fire in your home is one of the most disturbing, unsettling things that can happen to a homeowner. After double checking to be sure everyone is safe and sound, there is the daunting task of dealing with the aftereffects of the fire—the destruction, smell, smoke, and general mess. The smoke and soot must be removed before cleaning and deodorizing can begin. It will usually save time and money to consult an expert in fire restoration and remediation after it’s safe to reenter. New technology allows professionals to reclaim items you may have felt were lost, and there is a smaller chance that additional damage will be done by failed attempts at cleanup. Certainly, everyone wants to save as many important keepsakes and possessions as possible and to have everything return to normal as quickly as possible.
Smoke permeates many of the surfaces in the home during a fire, and soot leaves an oily residue behind. It’s difficult to remove these permanently, and if it’s not done properly the odors and stains may return. If you decide to help with the restoration, ask a restoration expert to give you information about the best methods and equipment to use. For example, to remove soot from drywall, there is a chemical sponge that can be used to penetrate the wall and clean the area. Chemical mixtures are also used to clean walls. Care should be taken to ensure safety when using these. Since some mixtures are not safe for your eyes or skin, use special protective equipment like gloves or goggles, and be sure the area is well-ventilated. These solutions can also be used to clean smoke and soot on some of your kitchen surfaces(1). Remove soot from metal surfaces in your home as quickly as possible to avoid etching.
Everything that is fabric in your home, such as carpet, drapes, furniture, clothing, and even insulation in the attic may also be dirty, stained, or odorous. Problems with clothing can usually be solved by washing and rewashing or dry cleaning and repeating. Carpets are a much bigger problem because of their size, and since they will probably be wet, they must be dried before cleaning. There’s also the problem of what is underneath the carpeting or other floors in the house. Hardwoods underneath carpet or subflooring can be ruined by water, so it’s important to get that area dried as quickly as possible. It’s also important to cover wooden furniture legs with plastic so they won’t bleed on to the carpet and to remove rugs that might fade on wet carpets.
Removing dirt and odor from your home after a fire is indeed a serious problem, but the simplest and best remedy is to prevent the fire if you can. Fire restoration is never fun, so be sure your family and home are adequately protected by working smoke detectors anywhere a fire might occur, place truly irreplaceable items in fireproof storage, and have a plan for quick and safe evacuation if you are ever faced with a fire.
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