Only a few events could be as devastating as a house fire. If the fire doesn’t completely destroy your home, the smoke will likely do its bit. Besides the loss of property and precious memories, house fires usually leave a trail of smoke damage.
When you manage to put out a fire, you’re usually faced with the daunting task of restoring your home. Dealing with smoke damage can be a stressful experience, but don’t worry, it can be done. To help you handle the stress of it all, this article will explore how to restore your smoke-damaged home. Stay glued.
The Initial Clean Up
The first thing you need to do after a fire is clean-up. The fire will likely have destroyed your furniture and other possessions. So, the first step is a bit like decluttering your home. You’d need to go through all the burnt items, selecting the things you could still use and trashing those that you no longer need.
This initial clean-up phase can be the most emotional, so you need to take your time and accept what has transpired. The support of family and friends could be comforting at this stage, so get as much help as you can.
Once you’ve gone through that sorting stage, your next step is to pack away the items you’ve salvaged. You’ll also need to call the garbage collection company to remove what you’ve trashed.
When you’ve cleared away the debris, your next action is to assess the extent of the damage. This will allow you to determine what needs to be done to restore your home.
Look For Any Smoke Damage
Your assessment stage will involve a thorough inspection of all the rooms to see the areas affected by the fire. Although the fire may have been confined to a specific part of the house, the smoke can damage other rooms as it tends to drift from the source of the fire to other areas. This means you have to assess every part of the house.
Apart from assessing the walls of your house, it’s equally important to check out the ceiling. Smoke tends to cause extensive damage to the ceiling as well as the walls. You may, however, be wondering what smoke damage looks like. Read on.
The Appearance Of Smoke Damage
Before you undertake to clean your smoke-damaged areas, you have to know what you’re dealing with. As highlighted earlier, smoke damage can occur in areas the fire didn’t reach. Anyhow, determining smoke-damaged areas is easy. You just have to look out for the following:
- Blackened areas
- Streaks of soot
- Discolored paint
- Black dust
- Smoke odor
Is Smoke Damage Repairable?
It’s easy to assume that smoke damage is non-removable, but you can remove it. The extent of the soot nevertheless determines how easily it can be removed. Also, the cleaning methods you use have a bearing on whether your home can be restored to its original state.
However, if you feel you can’t do it yourself, many professionals, like Summit Cleaning & Restoration can do the job for you.
What You Will Need To Remove Smoke Damage
When you’ve done your assessments and established the areas that need cleaning, you now have to put together the tools you need to get the job done. The following are some essentials that can help you restore your smoke-damaged house with ease:
- Rubber gloves to protect your hands
- Goggles to protect your eyes
- Face mask to protect you from inhaling dust
- Chemical sponge
- Drying sponge
- At least two buckets
- Hot water
- Commercial soot remover
- Paint thinner
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cleaning rags
- Smoke vacuum
Don’t worry if you don’t have the specialized smoke cleaning tools; you can work with what you have. For example, you can use a standard vacuum cleaner if you don’t have a smoke vacuum. Also, the type of smoke-cleaning detergent you use will be determined by the extent of the smoke damage. You could get the advice of professionals before you buy.
The Cleaning Process
When you’ve gathered all the tools needed, you can begin cleaning your smoke-damaged house. Here are some steps to help you get on with it:
1. Vacuum Soot And Ash On The Floor
The first step in restoring your smoke-damaged home is to remove all the soot and dust particles on the floors of the affected rooms. You will need to use a smoke vacuum or your standard vacuum cleaner to do this. It’s important to remember that soot can be dangerous if inhaled, as it may cause lung cancer.
You, therefore, have to use your protective equipment. Make sure you’re wearing your gloves, face mask, and goggles before beginning the vacuum process.
To avoid spreading the soot as you vacuum, you must be as gentle as possible. Work out a strategic method, starting from one corner and moving in a line or from left to right. Also, remember to have all the windows open for ventilation.
When all the soot has been vacuumed off the ground, you can now pay attention to the walls.
2. Clean Soot Stains On The Walls
The next step is to get rid of any soot particles on the walls. To remove the soot particles from the walls, you must use your vacuum cleaner. If you use a sponge or cloth to do this, you can worsen the smoke damage by smudging the soot onto the walls.
Using a vacuum cleaner on the walls is straightforward. Just aim the hose at the dust particles, and the soot will be sucked away.
3. Remove Smoke Soot Residue
After the soot particles are removed, the next step is to clean off the soot residue. You will need a dry-cleaning sponge or a special soot cleaning sponge to do this. It’s advisable to have several of these, depending on the extent of the smoke damage.
To clean off the soot, gently rub the affected areas. Be careful not to use the same sponge for more than a couple of strokes. Also, be sure to avoid using water at this stage, as soot sponges are specifically designed to restore smoke-damaged walls and floors.
You can use each sponge until all of its areas are blackened. You could also cut off the blackened surfaces and clean them again until the sponge is no longer usable.
After sponge cleaning, you can now use your cleaning solution with warm water to wipe the walls with rags. Your cleaning solution can be a commercial soot cleaner, paint thinner, or vinegar.
At this point, you can use a degreaser or soap with hot water to do the final scrubbing. This will clean off any oil-soluble smoke or soot residue that may have been left behind. When you’re done with all three cleaning stages, you can rinse the surface with warm water.
4. Clean Fire Smoke Off Other Areas
When you’ve cleaned the smoke residue off the floors and the walls, you can now focus on the areas that may also need cleaning. These can include the ceiling, windows, carpets, and furniture.
How To Clean Smoke-Damaged Ceilings
Cleaning the ceiling involves the same steps as cleaning the walls. However, it’s a little difficult to reach the ceiling, so you’ll need a ladder. Be careful not to fall off the ladder, and it’s advisable to wear protective gear like a helmet.
To make the job more manageable, try cleaning one section at a time. Take short breaks when you feel your hands are getting tired.
How To Clean Smoke Off Windows
Cleaning the windows is a lot easier than cleaning the walls and floors. You must first clean the windows using your soot cleaner, then use some degreaser to remove any stubborn stains.
You then fill up a spray bottle with the water and vinegar solution. Spray the windows and let the solution sit for about five minutes before wiping it off using a paper towel or rag.
How To Clean Smoke-Damaged Floors
Cleaning smoke-damaged floors is a bit like cleaning the walls. You just have to be sure you dry the floors quickly to avoid any water damage.
If you have carpets, you will have to vacuum them carefully and shampoo them to deep clean. Since carpets can be tricky, it’s advisable to call professional carpet cleaners to do the job for you.
How To Clean Smoke-Damaged Wood Furniture
Restoring your smoke-damaged wooden furniture requires a bit more care because wood can easily get more damaged during the cleaning process.
First, you vacuum the furniture using the flat brush of your vacuum cleaner. Next, use your dry-cleaning sponge to wipe away any remaining soot. After this, you wipe down the furniture with a damp cloth. Allow it to dry and polish it with a wood polisher, and you’re done.
5. Get Rid Of Smoke Odor
The last thing you will need to do is get rid of the smoke odor. Though you’ve cleaned the floors, walls, and ceilings, the smoke odor may persist. To get rid of the persistent smell, you can try the following:
- Aerate all the rooms—open all the windows and run any fans if possible.
- Wash all the clothes and curtains—everything that’s washable should be washed since it may have absorbed smoke odor.
- White vinegar—you can use this to wipe and clean your surfaces.
- Baking soda—this naturally absorbs odors. Just sprinkle some on affected areas or leave an open box, and it works its magic.
- Activated Charcoal—this is also an odor absorber that works just like baking soda.
- Other odor-diffusing products—you could shop around for odor-reducing products like oil diffusers and incense.
- Get a professional—if all else fails, you could contact a professional fire restoration company and ask them to get rid of any stubborn smells.
Your home should hopefully be restored when you’ve followed all the steps discussed. If your walls are discolored after cleaning, you will need a professional to assess and see if it requires a repaint.
At times, the smoke damage can be too severe to use simple methods. In such cases, professionals may come in handy. Also, remember that safety comes first when restoring a smoke-damaged house. Good luck.