Types of Damage Caused by Smoke and Soot
Sometimes after a fire is put out in a home, not much thought is given to the effects of smoke and soot. In fact, this is what homeowners should be most worried about as smoke and soot often cause more damage than the fire itself. Spreading throughout the property after the fire is out, the smoke and soot byproducts will settle onto the walls, ceilings, furniture, and other surfaces and cause severe etching and tarnishing. Without immediate fire damage restoration, these effects can quickly become permanent.
Apart from the damaging effects of smoke and soot in your home, these byproducts can also affect your physical health. Smoke and soot inhalation can contribute to severe negative health effects, including coughing, watery eyes, and even lung cancer.
This is why it’s essential to have a restoration company clean up the smoke and soot from all surfaces and crevices of the home to avoid permanent damage.
Types of Damage Caused by Smoke and Soot
1. Wet Smoke
For homes that experienced a smoldering fire burning at a low heat, it’s common to find wet smoke residue. Unlike the powdery dry soot more commonly found in fast-burning fires, wet smoke is clammy and sticky. It’s also a lot more difficult to clean because it can easily smear, especially without the proper cleaning techniques or products.
Don’t hesitate to call for a fire damage restoration professional if you have wet smoke damage. Trying to clean up this mess will often make it worse, which can also result in permanent damage.
2. Soot Inhalation
There’s always a ton of soot that occurs as a result of chemical combustion as materials burn. Soot is a powdery, black substance that is produced when the fire doesn’t completely burn its fuel source. When the fire occurs, the soot ionizes, becoming attracted to all different kinds of surfaces. It can also get caught in your HVAC system and get distributed throughout your home.
Soot inhalation can be a major health risk, irritating your lungs and airways, it can also lead to more serious health problems in the future. The possible health concerns are another reason to have the soot cleaned up right away and by a professional.
After the fire’s been extinguished, the smoke damage will be clearly visible, but other surfaces may not show the damage until a few days later. In fact, it’s common for smoke damaged walls and floors to turn yellow after a few days. Marble and granite countertops as well as exposed wood can also become permanently discolored if not treated right away.
Metal surfaces like aluminum, brass, steel, and iron can also start to tarnish as a result of smoke and soot damage. The sooner these surfaces can be treated by a professional, the higher the chance they can be saved and avoid permanent staining.
While some effects of smoke damage are easy to see, with some materials it is easier to detect the odor. Like on clothing and furniture, it won’t be hard to miss the smoky smell wafting from these fabrics. This is because the smoke particles become embedded within the materials of clothing, carpeting, and upholstery. If not treated promptly, the smell will linger for a long time. Surely cleaning hard surfaces is one thing, but it’s much harder to remove embedded odor particles from fabric.
Often times, a smoke odor removal professional is needed to fully deodorize the fabrics.
5. Skin Irritation
Another reason why the smoke and soot cleanup job should be left to a professional is that it can cause skin irritation. Some cases might be so severe that medical treatment will be needed, which is why it’s important to have all smoke particles removed from your home.
If the smoke has already penetrated your clothing, the particles may even remain within the pores of the fabric after it has been washed. Simply wearing clothes that were present during the fire can cause irritation to your skin. If you avoid contact with contaminated clothing or have them restored by a professional, skin irritation shouldn’t be a problem. If you get skin irritation from the soot and it persists, contact a medical professional.
Metal corrosion can easily occur with soot damage. This is because the soot residue is highly acidic, which can damage metal doorknobs, pipes, and kitchen appliances.
A quick solution would be to apply cooking oil to visible metal surfaces to keep them protected until they can be treated by a professional.
Soot can also be pulled in through the air vents and registers, flowing throughout the HVAC system. If left here, they can corrode the air ducts, which can lead to a system failure and increase the risk of a fire. A fire restoration service should always inspect the HVAC system.
7. Eye Irritation
Soot particles are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye, but you can still feel them if they get into your yes. Soot can cause severe eye irritation, making them red and itchy. The risk is especially high if you are trying to clean up soot damage yourself as the soot is released into the air.
If you do attempt to remove the smoke and soot yourself, it’s highly recommended to use some kind of eye protection. If the irritation becomes severe, seek medical attention right away.
Smoke Damage Restoration
Due to the damaging effects of smoke and soot, it’s highly recommended to work with a restoration company instead of taking on this job yourself. Oftentimes, the smoke and soot byproducts have spread throughout the whole house, making the cleanup job too immense for one person to handle. Improper cleaning can also worsen the effects and cause the damage to become permanent much quicker.
A professional fire restoration service on the other hand will work quickly to save your most at-risk items and building materials after a fire. Using advanced products, equipment, and techniques to remove all smoke and soot residue from the affected surfaces, they can save a lot of time and money during the cleanup project.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local fire restoration company for 24/7 emergency services.