After a house fire, the task of removing and replacing all destroyed property and then cleaning the remainder can be overwhelming. After a fire, household goods may be damaged by smoke and soot, as well as by the water and chemicals used by firefighters. Even if the event was small and localized, airborne particles travel throughout the house and can affect walls, carpet, upholstery, drapes, clothing, and other personal items. In order to repair and recover your damaged property, you will want to make sure that the smoke and soot is cleaned from walls, textiles, clothing, and furniture, and remove the smoky odor as well. Before you begin the actual clean up, follow these tips for salvaging your things.
Pre-process Step 1- Get permission from a fire marshal to safely re-enter your home.
Do not enter a house or other building affected by a fire until you have received word from a professional that it is safe to do so. How soon after a fire you are allowed back in the building will depend on the severity of the fire and the measures employed to put the fire out. Assess the damage to your belongings once you are back inside. Decide what you want to try to clean, and what you need to discard. Place a drop cloth on the floor. This will help to avoid transferring soot stains to the carpet or flooring. If you are unsure whether your items are salvageable or not, ask a professional restoration team. They will be able to help you.
Pre-process Step 2-Allow fresh air to circulate.
As soon as possible, open windows in each room for increased ventilation and bring in a small fan to increase the amount of airflow into the room. This will help clear the building of any residual smoke, minimize the smoke odor, and provide fresh and soot-free air for you to breathe. Run a dehumidifier with the windows closed if you live in a climate with warm, humid weather and have associated water damage along with smoke damage. In this situation, multiple powerful fans will be key. Buy multipacks of inexpensive filters and change your furnace or a/c filter daily, if running. Do this until it the filter shows no soot.
Pre-Process Step 3- Dry wet items before attempting to clean smoke damage.
Fans and dehumidifiers will help with this task. However, if water hoses were used to put out the fire, it may be best to hire professionals to do fire/water damage combination cleanup. Contact your insurance company for approved restoration contractors; trustworthy contractors have the expertise and equipment beyond the DIY tools. If you attempt to dry out your house yourself, beware of any mold or mildew underneath carpets and floors. Remove all carpets from the home. The presence of mold can be a serious health risk and can damage your floors beyond repair.
Now you can begin the work of cleaning a repairing the walls, textiles and wood furniture. If you have severe smoke damage in your home, it may be best to contact a smoke damage professional. Many people hesitate to call in a smoke damage specialist because the process can be costly, sometimes dangerous and environmentally unfriendly (i.e. the use of ozone neutralizers). However, there are companies available which employ environmentally friendly smoke removal procedures. While at the scene, quality restoration teams like Alert Disaster will initially assess the damage, implement a plan, and allow time for proper cleaning and restoration of wet soot, dry soot, and complete restoration.