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How Smoke Damage Affects Your Home's Contents

Even small home fires can result in significant smoke damage. Taking an obvious toll on your personal items and resulting in unseen damage to your home’s structure, the cleanup of smoke and soot is time sensitive. Acidic in nature, it effects each surface of your home differently, rapidly taking its toll unless quickly and carefully addressed.

What items are salvageable?

For the uninitiated, it can be difficult to determine what needs the most steadfast attention. Luckily the experts at Rainbow International® are here to help you determine what can and cannot be salvaged in a timely manner, and with the most appropriate, effective tools and cleaning methods for each task.

How does Rainbow International determine how to handle smoke damaged items?

Temperature, the type of fire (smoldering or blazing), as well as materials burned each effect necessary cleanup measures. Further complicating matters, smoke particles can easily penetrate any crack and crevice, and left untreated, leave particles behind that will smell of smoke odor for months after a fire. Proper ventilation, debris removal, and cleaning and odor neutralizing efforts are critical to saving as many of your belongings as possible. However timing is THE most crucial component of successful smoke remediation.  

A closer look at smoke damage by surface-type:

  • Curtains & Upholstery
    Vacuuming curtains and upholstery with an upright vacuum’s standard brushes or beaters can force soot deeper, worsening cleaning difficulties. The right filter, hose attachment and technique are crucial.
  • Clothes & Bedding
    Unburned chemicals, invisible to naked eye, must be completely removed to rid odor. This takes special washing regimens and chemicals.
  • Furniture & Carpet
    How do you clean smoke damaged wood furniture? You can inadvertently damage carpet when cleaning smoke damaged furniture. Wooden furniture can stain carpet with dyes.  Metal furniture can rust and stain the carpet. Protective barriers (foam blocks, etc.) are essential in keeping surfaces separate until dry.   
  • Hard Flooring
    Flooring may require refinishing or replacement, especially those water damaged from firefighting techniques. In areas without water damage, and where burn damage is not deep, deodorizing and/or resurfacing may be possible.
  • Porous Hard Surfaces
    Porous materials such as drywall, plaster, wallpaper, paint, and exposed wood can quickly become permanently discolored. How do you remove soot from wood and other porous surfaces? Dry chemical sponges are one way to prevent soot from seeping into surfaces to cause permanent stains.
  • Fiberglass and Appliance Exteriors
    Yellow within hours if left unaddressed.
  • Metallic Surfaces
    Acidic soot can cause metal surfaces, such as large appliances, to pit and corrode with time. Wiping them with cooking oil can prevent staining and rusting.
  • Plastic & PVC
    Plastic surfaces and synthetics collect more smoke than other materials, and can discolor within minutes unless wiped down with a mild alkali cleaning solution.
  • Porcelain
    Washing machines, tubs, and basins must be cleaned quickly to prevent permanent staining.

Are you running out of time?

The IIRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification), a globally recognized leader in all types of remediation, identifies these time windows:

  • Within minutes
    Porous materials and synthetics must be immediately addressed to prevent permanent discoloration.
  • Within hours to days
    Wooden furniture, flooring, painted walls, and clothing can become permanently stained if not addressed within hours to days of damage, and metal surfaces will at this point begin to rust, pit, and corrode, requiring refinishing or replacement.
  • Within weeks
    Prolonged soot exposure will embed itself in the fibers and surfaces, resulting in a longer, more costly restoration with a higher likelihood of replacement.

Act fast to prevent the disastrous effects of smoke damage in your home. Contact the IIRC-certified restoration experts at Rainbow International today.

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