Fire and Smoke Damage in the Home

Fire can cause major damage to a home. When the fire is out it may seem that worst is over. However, it is most likely your home is continuing to suffer damage. Smoke and ash left behind by fire can cause extensive damage if not tended to immediately. Odors can also become a major problem if this damage is not addressed immediately.

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Understanding Fire and Smoke Damage

Ash and smoke cause immediate problems but if left unattended ash will cause corrosion, etching, discoloration and odors. Ash is acidic and will cause discoloration to surfaces, plastic, and appliances. Wood and vinyl will most likely have to be replaced; metal will start corroding in a short period of time.

Ash is easily disturbed by individuals or adverse weather conditions and can spread to other areas of the home creating an even larger problem. Soot can migrate to upper levels of a structure. Soot is another term for smoke damage. Wet smoke residue is produced from smoldering low heat fires. This type of residue is sticky and has a pungent odor. Dry smoke residue is caused by fast burning high temperature fires, this is a dry residue.

Evaluate the Situation

Determine if the damage is a matter that can be handled without any professional assistance. Be aware that even minor fire damage may harbor hidden problems. Unless it's on a very small scale it's not recommended that a homeowner attempt this type of cleanup.

Act in a Timely Manner

If professional restoration is required it's imperative to contact professionals immediately to mitigate any further damages to the home. After a few days ash can cause permanent discoloration to walls, upholstery and clothing. If a professional is not hired soon enough your costs could be much higher within a few weeks after the fire.

Ash is acidic, metals may become permanently damaged and have to be replaced. Carpets will permanently discolor and require replacement. Permanently discolored walls will need to be refinished, and upholstery will need to be replaced. Odors may become more stubborn and harder to remove. Other issues such as water damage and moisture will need to be taken care of immediately.

Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Professionals

One of the most critical decisions to be made after damage has occurred is to contact a fire and smoke damage restoration professional. Don't hesitate if you find that professional restoration services are required.

It takes knowledge, training and experience to do the job properly. Only companies with proper certification should be considered.

The company should be certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). This organization develops course guidelines and publishes standards for safe cleaning and restoration techniques.

IICRC certification helps to identify the industries' most skilled and dedicated technicians. Professionals can be contacted through the IICRC.

Inspection and Testing

The professional service should perform an inspection and conduct testing to determine the extent of the damage before any work is done. This is where and expert's knowledge will come in to play. They understand the structure of the home and how damage from fire, smoke and water may affect it and its contents. What may look like an unaffected area to the homeowner may harbor hidden smoke damage and odors.

What to Expect

A professional service should provide the following information:

A complete inventory of what has been damaged by fire, smoke, water or any other residue that may have been deposited to extinguish the fire.

You'll be advised on what can be cleaned and what will have to be replaced.

Information should be given on how the damage will be repaired. This should include a list of chemicals that will be used.

You will be given advice on whether contents of the home should be moved off-site to avoid any further contamination or damage.

Other information should include how long the cleanup will take and a good estimate of the costs. You should be kept informed and advised of any issues during the cleanup process.

Be Prepared

Be sure your homeowner's insurance policy is up to date and has adequate coverage for the home in the event of a catastrophe such as fire. Above all understand your policy and verify what is covered, contact your agent if necessary.

Preventing a fire with proper safety procedures and equipment will greatly reduce the possibility of ever needing fire and smoke damage restoration.

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