4 Ways to Eliminate Smoke Odors After a Fire
Because of their destructive power, fires have the potential to be the most dangerous natural event to affect a home or property. The flames themselves cause irreversible harm to personal items and structural materials, but it’s important to remember that the dangers of a fire extend beyond the flames themselves. After a fire has been extinguished, the potential for harm is still present, because lingering byproducts from the fire can damage the property.
The Effects of Smoke Odors
When fire smoke enters a property, its particles attach themselves to surfaces and become embedded in various porous materials like carpeting and paint. Along with the smoke comes the odors. Such smells can linger within a property for an extended amount of time. This jeopardizes the indoor air quality and, in turn, the health of any occupants.
Knowing the dangers smoke damage presents, it is important to take immediate action in having your property cleaned of smoke and its odor and restored to a healthy environment. But these particles often require specialized cleaning methods to remove them from your property, meaning you must seek out professional smoke odor removal services. However, several factors must be considered when determining how to restore and clean your property.
Likelihood of Removing the Odor Yourself
The bigger the fire is, the more smoke that’s produced. As such, the smoke odors will be stronger and more prevalent. The longer smoke lingers within a property, the more time there is for household materials to absorb the smell and suffer smoke damage. Additional odors can also be produced depending on what materials have been burned in the fire. That said, some smells are easier to eliminate than others. Burnt plastic or synthetic materials, for example, produce odors that are more difficult to get rid of.
None of this is to say you can’t do your own odor removal work, though. There are various do-it-yourself smoke odor removal techniques that are proven to be effective in eliminating smoke smells.
- Air out your property
- Use positive pressure
- Clean your property thoroughly
- Carpeting and upholstery
- Fabric items
- HVAC system
- Solid surfaces
- Open all doors and windows
- Repaint your property
1. Air Out Your Property
The first step to take in removing smoke odors from your property is to air the place out.
Open all doors and windows
By opening all of the doors and windows in your property, the space can be properly ventilated, allowing plenty of fresh air to enter. If you strategically place fans throughout the property, then you can also “push” odors out of the space. When the fans face doorways, windows, and corners of rooms, they blow air and help guide the smoke odor outside.
2. Use Positive Pressure
Simply airing out a property won’t be enough to eliminate smoke odors if they are strong and present enough. If this is the case, you might have to blow out your property using positive pressure.
Positive pressure is when the air pressure inside a room exceeds that of the air pressure outside of it, causing the inside air to leave for the outside. Using this for smoke odor removal will push the smells out of the property while letting fresh air in.
- Open the main entrance to the property and set up a large fan facing inwards right outside of the door.
- Close all of the other doors and windows in the property, keeping only one window open to act as an exhaust. This forces fresh air into the property while pushing out the lingering smoke odor.
- Turn the fan on to its highest setting and blow out the property for at least 15 minutes before closing the open door and window.
- Open the door to another room and one window within this room.
- Repeat this process for all rooms/areas in your property until they have all been aired out in this manner.
Although this positive pressure ventilation process helps bring in fresh air, which assists in eliminating smoke odor, it doesn’t completely eliminate the problem.
3. Clean Your Property Thoroughly
The only way to properly and completely rid of smoke odors is to clean all surfaces and items affected by smoke damage.
Carpeting and upholstery
When smoke particles enter a property, they become deeply embedded into carpeting and upholstery, which makes it difficult to clean. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
If you sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and let it sit there for up to 24 hours, then the baking soda will take in the smell. Afterwards, vacuum up the baking soda using a machine that has a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. By using such a filter, you prevent the smoke particles from blowing back to the surface.
A more effective method of cleaning your smoke-damaged carpeting and/or upholstery is to use steam cleaning. However, if you opt for steam cleaning, be cautious when working with delicate materials like silk, because they can be damaged easily.
When smoke enters a property, fabric materials absorb smoke and its odor. Because of this, all fabric items affected by smoke damage need to be cleaned properly. Such items include area rugs, blankets, clothes, curtains, decorative cushions, duvets, linens, and towels. After having them cleaned, keep these materials out of the affected property until the smoke odor is completely removed from the space. Otherwise, the fabrics will regain the odor, meaning they will all need to be cleaned another time.
Smoke has the ability to linger in your HVAC system, harming the air quality of your property. That said, it is essential to change all air filters, including furnace filters, immediately. But you’ll need to do more than just that. You also need to have your HVAC system inspected for damage. To ensure your ventilation system is providing quality air, it’s best to seek professional air duct cleaning.
When a property suffers from smoke damage, smoke particles gather on solid surfaces. Some of the surfaces you’ll likely have to clean are baseboards, cabinet interiors and exteriors, ceilings, doors and doorframes, furniture, light fixtures and switches, and shelving units. Knowing this, it’s essential to clean such surfaces by wiping them down. To do this, use a cleaning solution of dish soap, warm vinegar, and warm water.
Uncarpeted flooring also needs to be mopped, rinsing the mop after each run. If you don’t rinse the mop each time, then the mopping becomes useless; the smoke particles simply float in the bucket and return to the floor.
For furniture, special cleaning products might be necessary to effectively clean them. As such, be sure you have the appropriate cleaning products for your furniture and use them correctly. If you can, air dry furniture outside on a sunny, but windy day; the fresh air helps remove lingering odors.
After smoke damage, you wash the windowpanes themselves to clear them up and restore their transparency and shine. Additionally, you also need to clean your windows’ blinds, frames, screens, and sills.
Smoke residue gathers on window blinds, so pay special attention to them. For wooden blinds, be sure to use only wood-safe cleaning products. For plastic blinds, you can scrub them clean using a white vinegar and hot water mixture.
To clean the window screens, use shampoo or dish soap, rinse them with cool water, and let them air dry outside. However, if you aired out your property with an exhaust fan, then you can also use it to clean the screen.
4. Repaint Your Walls
If the paint on your walls has absorbed the smoke odor, then you will need to repaint them.
First, you need to wash the walls using ammonia- or glycol-based cleaning products. Such products should be used because these substances neutralize odors well. After washing the walls, rinse them down, and let them dry thoroughly. Once dry, use a paint primer that seals in odors, and then apply latex paint.
Professional Smoke Odor Removal
If these proven do-it-yourself smoke odor removal techniques are not enough to fix the smoke damage problems on your property or if you are unable to perform such methods, then you need to seek professional smoke odor removal services. These professional services will ensure quality restoration to your home, bringing it back to a smoke-free environment that’s safe to occupy.
One such service includes ServiceMaster by Mason. Their technicians are both licensed and trained to fully eliminate smoke odor particles at their source. Their professional products are both advanced and eco-friendly in order to restore safe and healthy living conditions within the affected space. They can also provide controlled demolition services, removing and hauling away the affected debris. Finally, they will disinfect the area to remove any remaining soot particles and bacteria.
ServiceMaster by Mason proudly serves the southwest Rhode Island and southeast Connecticut area with professional smoke odor removal services. Give them a call at (401) 455-4156 for a free estimate!