Terms and conditions apply*
How to Mitigate Home Smoke Damage
Fire damage can be devastating, but once the flames are extinguished, there is the smoke damage to deal with. If not treated immediately, the damage can be irreversible. Thus, knowing what you can do to minimise smoke-related damage is essential.
What Is Smoke Damage?
Any damage caused by smoke, fumes, or soot can be classified as smoke damage. Unlike fire, smoke does not burn your property but has other unpleasant effects, like the formation of soot, pungent odours, and destruction of fabric, textiles and furniture. In addition, smoke and soot can be excessively greasy to clean appropriately and affect confined areas like pipelines, wire casings, or wall gaps.
Physical and structural smoke damage in your house is visible. However, invisible damage may be worse, as it contains microscopic airborne particles that can be extremely unhealthy to breathe.
What Are the Types of Home Smoke Damage?
Smoke damage is classified based on a few parameters like – fire source, temperature, location, and materials fuelling the fire. A clear understanding of these types helps in knowing how to repair the damage caused.
Here are the 4 types of classified smoke damage:
1. Dry Smoke Damage
- Flames – High-temperature, fast-burning
- Fuelling materials – Wood or paper
- Smoke residue – Dry and powdery
- Smell – Insignificant
- Damage – Seeps into small cracks/openings, causes electrical damage
The powdery nature of dry smoke makes cleaning more manageable, as it does not smear. However, this powdery nature is also the biggest disadvantage, as it allows dry smoke to creep into cracks and narrow spaces. Over time, this can wreak structural havoc on your house.
2. Wet Smoke Damage
- Flames – Low-temperature and smouldering
- Fuelling materials – Plastic/rubber products
- Smoke residue – Dense, sticky and black
- Smell – Burnt plastic
- Damage – Surface grease and metal corrosion
Unlike dry smoke, wet smoke leaves a greasy residue that smears very easily, making it extremely difficult to clean. Therefore, you must hire expert cleaners with special equipment to deal with the scenario.
3. Petroleum (Oil/Fuel) Smoke Damage
- Flames – High temperature
- Fuelling materials – Petroleum/oil products
- Smoke residue – Thick and sticky
- Smell – Extremely foul
- Damage – Furniture, carpets, fabrics, etc.
Petroleum smoke damages are commonplace in warehouses and garages, where oil or fuel are stored. Thus, standard houses or business premises do not encounter petroleum smoke damage as such.
Being sticky, the smoke residue latches onto every surface it comes to contact with, making it extremely challenging to clean. Petroleum smoke damage needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible and requires special equipment.
4. Protein Smoke Damage
- Flames – Low temperature
- Fuelling materials – Organic/cooking products
- Smoke residue – Invisible
- Smell – Intense and pungent
- Damage – Paint/varnish discolouration
Protein smoke damage is found primarily in kitchens. Since this smoke damage is not visible to the naked eye, it is tough to identify. The only signs of protein smoke damage are its pungent smell and the discolouration of paints, varnishes, and other finishes. To clean this kind of smoke damage, you must use cleaning products made of protein-based residues.
What Is the Impact of Smoke Damage on Your Property?
Understanding the impact smoke has on your property is also a part of house fire damage repair. Fine particles can get lodged into small cracks and openings on surfaces, making them hard to detect and clean, leading to the smoke smell lingering for months. Smoke damages various parts of your household, such as walls, floors, furniture, curtains, carpets, clothes, etc.
Smoke from a fire usually carries carcinogens, dangerous elements from burned wood, melted plastic and unabated asbestos. Wood within home structures is highly prone to trapping odours and toxins from the smoke, which is often difficult to eradicate. These can enter your bare skin, and you can also damage your health by inhaling them.
Tips for Cleaning Up After a House Fire
Here are a few things to remember when cleaning up after a house fire:
1. Act Fast
Time is absolutely of the essence when dealing with smoke damage. You must act fast to save your property from suffering irreversible damage. The more you delay the damage treatment, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to get rid of.
- Porous and synthetic materials require immediate intervention to be saved.
- Floors and unfinished walls need addressing within a couple of days.
- However, furniture and painted walls need tending to as soon as possible to save them from irreparable damage.
Metal objects corrode and rust over time after being damaged by smoke.
2. Salvage What You Can
What can or cannot be salvaged entirely depends on the extent of damage caused by the fire.
- Usually, porous objects or fabrics such as curtains, clothing, or carpet are not recoverable.
- Even soft surfaces might not be completely salvageable, as flames can burn them quickly.
- However, solid surfaces like floors and walls can be salvaged easily.
How to Remove Home Smoke Odours After Fire Damage?
Eliminating odours is the most challenging part of recovering home smoke damage. The most effective way to eliminate the smoke odour is to identify its source. Also, avoid temporary fixes like spraying aerosols to mask the smell.
The process of smoke odour elimination requires deep cleaning and restoration, so it is wise to hire professional cleaners to deal with the smell.
You can deal with such damages in two ways, physically or chemically:
You may physically try to remove smoke damage from solid materials by using a wet cloth. However, it is best to use a vacuum cleaner equipped with micro-filters for carpets, curtains and other fabrics. Here are a few different ways you can physically clean up smoke damage:
Steam machines release hot steam that helps melt the oil, tar, soot, and grease remnants. You can use it on walls, floors, carpets, curtains and furniture.
Baking soda is a natural odour-absorbent. You can spray it over damaged materials and leave it overnight to work.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps combat smoke odour. You can pour vinegar on a rag and wipe damaged surfaces to eliminate the smell.
Chemical processes are more of a professional but permanent solution to smoke odour. Here are a few ways to chemically eradicate the unpleasant smell of smoke residue:
Use thermal foggers on porous materials like wood with smoke trapped inside them. These machines help re-open the pores and eliminate the odour.
Ozone generators release activated oxygen to permeate smoke-damaged areas and oxidise them. However, you must only use ozone generators in unoccupied areas as this process harms living beings.
A better alternative is a hydroxyl generator, which releases hydroxyl radicals that break down odour-emitting elements at a molecular level, making it a permanent fix. In addition, hydroxyl generators are safe to use in occupied spaces, unlike ozone generators.
Home smoke damage recovery and smoke odour elimination can be tedious processes. However, the points mentioned above and the information can help you deal with smoke damage more effectively.