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Fire Restoration FAQ:

Q: Why do you recommend cleaning after a small fire, even if I just have smoke odor?

A: When you have a fire, the resulting damage will be smoke (soot) and odor. The odor is a result of the smoke (soot) residue being present. Soot particles are very small and can only be seen in mass once there is enough to fill the air. Once airborne, pressure causes the soot to rise and move toward cool oxygen. Smoke damage within a structure is very hard to contain to a single room or even a single floor. Cleaning which removes the odor causing residue, and is an important of deodorizing.

Q: Can you get the smoke odor out of my clothing?

A: Yes, in most cases depending on how aggressive the odor is. Many times a simple washing or dry cleaning will remove the odor. In more extreme cases we would need to deodorize the clothing using ozone gas before laundering or dry cleaning in order to get the best results.

Q: We had a house fire, should I be worried about smoke in my attic also?

A: The answer to that depends on how much or if smoke entered the attic, and if there is a heavy odor as a result. Trace amounts of smoke with little or no odor are probably not to concerning. But heavy signs of soot, and/or heavy odor would be concerning and should be treated like a living space. An attic is an unconditioned space, with heat and humidity common depending on the season. Heat and humidity will make odors more active, and noticeable. As the outer wind blows, it creates a pressure inside the building structure, which can bring smoke odor into the living space.

Q: I had a small fire in my house, should you come out for an inspection before or after my adjuster comes out?

A: It really doesn’t matter, if your adjuster is knowledgeable with fire restoration and the problems it causes. The biggest advantage to having an inspection before your insurance adjuster comes out; it should give you a better understanding of the complete scope of damage and the steps necessary to restore your home. Many times it helps to be knowledgeable of the situation and the solutions, so you have input with the process, before your adjuster decides what needs to be done.

Q: I overcooked a dinner one night and haven’t been able to get rid of the odor, do I need professional help?

A: Maybe. There is a difference between overcooked and severely overcooked food. Overcooked food should air out in hours or in a couple of days. Severely overcooked food or protein fires are a result of overheating a solid mass of protein to the point of turning it into a vapor. These don’t air out in days or sometimes evens months!

We see fire damage in several ways; paper/wood, plastic, metal, and protein. Each of these types of fires will leave you with their own characteristics of damage. Protein fires usually don’t leave you with much of a black sooty residue; they usually produce a slightly greasy clear film. Which carries a very high odor content associated with them. Many times it’s deceiving how big a problem protein fires can be, because they don’t “show” the damage.

Q: My contractor is planning on sealing over my smoke damaged walls, is that a good idea?

A: No, it’s a bad idea for two reasons, depending on the amount of residue and its odor content. If a sealer is applied to cover up an odor, it could create a lingering odor problem later. The goal in fire restoration is to not seal odors in, but rather greatly reduce or eliminate the odor and seal only as a preventive. Another reason it’s not a good idea is; the directions for use of any can of paint/sealer is going to say “apply to clean dry surface” and soot is a greasy/oily residue. If painted over, it’s less likely to adhere to the surface the way it was designed too.

Q: How do you determine what rooms are affected, since they don’t appear to be soot damaged?

A: We inspect each room to determine the scope of the damage within a structure. That inspection begins with a visual walk-through of each room, as well as physical check for soot on vertical and horizontal surfaces.

Q: How do you know you are finding soot residues on the walls and not dust or something else?

A: When we inspect for smoke damage, we use different types of media to identify trace amounts of soot that clings to vertical walls and horizontal surfaces. That soot residue will be grayish to black in color, which would be consistent with something that’s burns.

Q: Will the smoke odor go away in time?

A: Yes, it will eventually dissipate. But, depending on how aggressive the odor is, it could be weeks, months or longer.

Q: Should I be concerned with smoke odors in my home, are they harmful?

A: The only one that should answer whether or not the soot/odor damage is a health concern for you is your health care provider. There are many potentially harmful toxins that are produced as a result of a fire. Many times the answer to whether something is harmful to you or not depends on your own individual health status, some individuals with respiratory issues, small children and elderly would have a lower tolerance for such toxins. Always consult your healthcare professional for your best advice.

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