It goes without saying that damage to a home from a fire can be devastating. Not only that, but the effects of such a tragedy can often be seen and felt for months or even years afterwards. But, as the old saying goes, every problem – even the most serious – has a solution. The same can be said for fire damage in a home.
Of course, the size and scope of the fire ultimately determines just how far the home owner can go in repairing the damage him or herself. Oftentimes it will be necessary to call in a professional who specializes in fire restoration. But if the damage is relatively minimal, the homeowner can often handle most — if not all – of it on his or her own.
Before you begin:
Before attempting to clean and repair any fire damage, there are some basic considerations to take into account. First and foremost, it’s vital to wait until the fire is completely out before attempting any restoration. Also, if the homeowner has insurance, he or she should contact the policy provider and notify them of the damage.
The insurance provider can suggest ways the homeowner should deal with the fallout and they may even be able to recommend a professional fire restorer.
Prevent further damage
Those who do wish to perform cleanup and restoration themselves must first be cleared to enter the home by the fire marshal. The first step after that is to get air circulating. That means opening the windows in the home as well as placing a fan near the affected areas in order to help ventilate the area. Wet items should be dried as soon as possible. Dehumidifiers and fans can be used to dry heavier items like drapes and carpeting.
Soot is the greasy substance that results from fires and often leaves stubborn stains. Before actual cleaning of items affected by a fire can begin, it is necessary to remove the soot. A heavy vacuum is the best way to remove this substance, and the best tactic is to hold the nozzle of the unit just above the soot-covered surface in question. The use of vacuum attachments are discouraged, as these will often push the soot deeper into the item in question.
Removing smoke odor
Smoke odor can be very stubborn and linger in the home for quite a while after a fire. Unfortunately, regular household deodorizing sprays only mask the problem. Those who can’t hire a professional cleaner to remove smoke smells may want to try the following methods:
- Mix one cup dishwashing detergent with one cup gallon warm water. Submerge the affected items in this mixture all night then drain and launder as normal.
- For those more resilient items that can stand up to bleach, mix 4-6 tablespoons trisodium phosphate with 1 cup chlorine bleach as well as 1 gallon of water. Soak items and rinse with clear water.
Carpeting should be cleaned (preferably by a professional) both before an dafter general fire repairs. Some carpeting may require total replacement.
To clean soot stains from walls, it is necessary to use a chemical sponge – available from cleaning supply companies – or even paint thinner or rubbing alcohol.
These are just a few things homeowners can do to reduce the effects of fire damage. If a smoky smell persist for months, it may be necessary to hire a professional restorer to perform a thermal fogging, which should permeate the home to the point it kills all smoke odor.