What Can and Can’t be Salvaged After a House Fire
Fires can be extremely devastating for homeowners. They can ruin your possessions and cause extensive damage to your property that can have a high cost to be restored. Your furnishings, carpeting, personal possessions, and even the structure of your home can become damaged to the point that the home is unsafe. Even after the fire department puts out the fire, you are left with smoke, soot, and corrosive byproducts that cause additional damage and threaten your health. It is always best for professionals to clean your home after a fire to ensure all the fire damage is restored and that it is safe for you to return to your home.
Types of Damage After a Fire
There are different types of damage left after a fire. As a homeowner, it is important for you to understand the types of damage that fire and smoke cause and what material possessions can be saved after a fire.
1. Fire Damage:
A fire in your home will always create damage. However, there are two ways that fire can damage in your home:
o Flame damage- Any items that are flammable can be damaged, this is especially true for wood and cloth. For example, furniture is highly flammable and burns easily.
o Heat damage- Due to the heat from the fire, many materials that contain plastic can be heavily damaged. This includes appliances and other materials that have plastic that are susceptible to melting.
Fire causes damage very quickly as it spreads, depending on the materials that catch on fire. Once the fire goes out, there is no more fire damage that impacts your items. The results of the damage are immediate.
2. Smoke Damage:
After a fire, smoke can greatly damage your home. This is due to small soot particles that float around in the air and cause further damage. These chemicals are extremely dangerous for your health. Some of the chemicals that may be in your home after a fire include carbon monoxide, ammonia, sulfur dioxide etc. You should always contact a professional restoration company to handle any smoke damage in your home so that you can protect yourself and your family from smoke damage. You want to avoid trying to clean up smoke damage yourself as you are putting yourself in direct danger and improper cleaning methods make it worse.
3. Damage from Water:
Fire can cause a lot of damage, but one type of damage you may not think about after a fire is water damage. This type of damage is caused by the water used to extinguish the fire. The excess water will get absorbed by porous materials in your home including furnishings, flooring, and even structural elements. Too much water absorption can even threaten the structural integrity of your home.
The size of a fire in your home will determine how much water damage to expect. Usually, for large fires, the firefighters must use a lot of water to put out the fire. However, if you had a small fire at your home, they may not use as much water to put it out. It is crucial to have the professionals clean-up all the water damage left after a fire to prevent further damage from the water and mold growth.
4. Mold Damage:
Mold can be caused by leftover water that was not properly cleaned up after a fire. Mold spores travel through the air and land on items, spreading quickly to any porous surface and causing further damage. Mold can also cause various health issues from light symptoms such as coughing and sneezing to allergies and memory loss and more serious conditions with prolonged exposure. You should not try to clean-up mold yourself but instead contact professionals to do so. This will help ensure all the mold is removed and that it does not come back. Reacting to any mold damage right away will help prevent further damage to your belonging. Make sure to contact the professionals right away for mold removal if you notice it.
Which items can be saved after a fire?
Fires cause a lot of damage to homes that can be very costly. This means that homeowners would like to salvage as much as possible after a fire. Here are a few things that can almost always be saved:
Usually, glass does not get damaged in a fire. If it does get stained, it can be cleaned and salvaged.
Metal is resilient in fires. You can use vinegar and dish soap to clean and sand metal surfaces and repaint them.
Hardwood floors can almost always be salvaged after a fire. Make sure to clean them with oil soap and sand and refinish as needed.
Items that Cannot be Saved After a Fire
Fires can cause devastating loses for a homeowner, so saving items is always important. However, it is important to know which items cannot be saved to ensure the health and safety of your family. Here are some examples:
It is important to throw away any opened containers of food, and food that was stored in cardboard, cloth, or thin plastic bags. When it comes to sealed food such as cans or jars, you want to be careful and keep in mind that if it was close to the heat of the fire, it may not be ok for eating. The best thing to do as a precaution is to get rid of any food that was exposed to heat, smoke, or water as it may be dangerous for consumption.
Perishable food left at room temperature:
If you have a well-sealed fridge and freezer and your power went out, you may be able to salvage some of the food. However, if the food was at room temperature for over four hours, you will need to throw it away. Other things to look out for when checking if food is good for eating:
o Food smelling of smoke
o Soot in the fridge
o The refrigerator didn’t have power during the fire, and it was above 40 degrees in the home
o Off-smell of the food
Medicines and cosmetics:
You will need to inspect all the items in your medicine cabinet to determine whether it can be used. If anything looks warped or charred, it should be thrown out.
If you come across burnt clothing you will need to throw it out, especially when it comes to baby clothing.
Fires can cause devastating damage for homeowners. It is difficult to experience damage to your personal items, especially items that cannot be saved after a fire. There is also a lot of uncertainty and questions you may have after a fire. You may be worried about smoke and soot damage to your home and how it can negatively affect you and your family. Also, you may be unsure which items can be saved and which items need to be thrown out.
This is where fire damage restoration professionals can help. They can remove smoke and soot damage, and clean, disinfect, stabilize, and restore your home after a fire. These professionals can also help you determine what can be salvaged and restore these items and materials.