World Executives Digest | A Complete Guide to Fire Damage Restoration | Whether accidental or a result of seasonality, fire damage is increasingly apart of the average American’s life. Even if you have never had a fire, your property may still be impacted by the size and scale of wildfires. The smoke from 2020’s California wildfire season even reached the East Coast.
The fire damage clean-up process takes weeks or months, depending on the se
verity of the fire. Why? Because fire damage appears in four different forms, and it comes with an additional list of potential issues down the road.
What Types of Damage Does a Fire Cause?
To get a better understanding of what goes into fire damage clean up, you first need to know about the kinds of damage that happen after a fire.
Four primary types of fire damage need assessing before restoration can happen:
- Fire damage
- Smoke damage
- Soot damage
- Water damage
Here’s what can happen in each circumstance.
Fire (Flame) Damage
The damage most people think of when a fire ravages their home is the damage done by the flames. Flames can burn and ultimately destroy most surfaces. Flames can take out floors, walls, ceilings, roofs, and even the frame of your house.
Before moving on to additional damage, a professional (together with the fire department) first needs to determine whether the building remains structurally sound – or if its infrastructure is so damaged that it’s no longer stable.
Although damage from the flames occupies most people’s imagination, it’s smoke that causes the primary damage during a fire.
There are different types of smoke. They vary according to the fire source: wet, dry, and fuel oil smoke.
Wet smoke is the most problematic. It covers surfaces in a thick coating and carries a strong smell – it’s also the hardest to remove. You get wet smoke from a fire that burns at a low temperature or smolders.
Dry smoke comes from high heat levels. It’s easier to clean.
You’re unlikely to find fuel oil smoke in a house fire unless caused by an oil-burning furnace.
Smoke does a massive amount of damage because of the smell and the corrosive effects. Smoke can start the corrosion process within minutes after falling on surfaces. Cleaning it is a high priority because you will otherwise need to replace the metals in your house.
Soot damage and smoke damage are not the same. Soot is a very fine, black powder that binds to surfaces after a fire. It’s a by-product of fossil fuels, and it also includes dust.
You cannot live in a home with soot damage as it poses extreme health hazards, particularly if you are asthmatic.
The final type of damage is water damage. The harm can come from hoses used to put out the fires and any sprinkler systems, but it can become much worse if the fire damage causes any pipes to leak or burst.
Standing water and damp materials need cleaning quickly.
Water damage can cause corrosion of metal surfaces, rotten wood and drywall, and mold and mildew throughout the house. It’s common to find that drywall absorbed liquid, which requires drying or even replacement.
Restoring the Property After Fire Damage
As you can see, fire damage is never as simple as replacing items that burned. Smoke, soot, and water damage can lurk in places where you can’t even see it. That’s why fire restoration services never walk straight into a house and start cleaning. Every process begins with a full assessment.
Once the fire department and other relevant authorities give you the all-clear to enter, fire damage professionals, like Ctr-nw.com, can assess the damage, including fire, soot, smoke, and water damage.
The intensity of the process often depends on the size and severity of the fire. They’ll look to see how far the flames, smoke, soot, and water penetrated the property. Was it localized to affect one or two rooms, or can issues be spotted across the house?
Your assessment also includes a look at the contents of the property, such as carpets, furniture, and other removable fixtures. They’ll let you know what’s salvageable and begin the process of removing it for restoration.
They can work to prevent further catastrophic damage and remove items, but the team typically needs to wait for the all-clear from the insurance company before starting clean-up.
Quotes and Insurance
With the assessment complete, the professional submits their reports and quotes to you, your insurance adjustor, and any other professionals who require them.
Your home owner’s insurance typically covers fire damage restoration pending reports from the fire marshall, adjustor, and restoration services. When they have the green light from the insurer, the professionals will start restoring your home.
The first part of the restoration process is known as remediation. During this stage, the restoration company will install fencing, remove debris, pump standing any water, secure the house, and remove any property that needs storage for both restoration and safekeeping.
They also seal off areas of the house that didn’t sustain fire damage to prevent further contamination by mold, mildew, moisture, or soot.
With the house secure, the professionals complete any demolition required, including drywall, flooring, roofing, and any materials that can’t be saved.
Pre-Cleaning and Drying
Time is of the essence when facing water damage. They already pumped out any standing water or flood areas, but moisture turns to mold, mildew, and corrosion quickly.
By the end of this stage, all soaked material is gone, and anything damp will be dry.
Smoke and Soot Removal and Corrosion Prevention
Smoke and soot removal takes the most time out of the entire restoration process. Very often, removing soot means cleaning every square inch of the property, including the remaining HVAC vents and other hiding places for soot.
The team then hunts down metal surfaces and looks for signs of corrosion to mitigate it or flag it for removal.
Once removed, the team deodorizes the property to get rid of the smoke smell.
Mold and Mildew Removal
Before you can start the final restoration process, the team needs to get rid of any mold or mildew that’s grown in the meantime. Often, you will need to remove the drywall and insulation altogether. One the material dries out, it can’t retain structural integrity. But the team will check for signs of mold and mildew, remove it, and then use bleach before re-painting to prevent regrowth.
The team will have already removed the bulk of the smoke smell when they got rid of the source. They’ll use this time to get into all the nooks and crannies of your home because even tiny particles hidden behind baseboards in a largely unaffected room can create odors.
Additionally, they’ll pressure wash the exterior of the home and wash and disinfect that hasn’t already been done. They’ll also care for any furniture that is coming back into the house.
The smell of smoke doesn’t disappear until the source itself does, so you shouldn’t smell it when you move back in. However, you may still find it useful to use DIY methods like leaving baking soda around the affected area after you’re allowed to reenter the property. Baking soda absorbs any lingering odors that aren’t coming directly form a specific source.
The final step is the restoration of the home to its original state. Depending on the extent of the damage, the fire damage restoration service may do this, or you may need a general contractor. At a minimum, you can expect to replace sheetrock and skirting boards. You’ll also need to repaint.
Nothing in the restoration stage should be a surprise. The professional restoration team generally know what needs to be done after the first assessment stage.
Fire Restoration is a Long but Vital Process
Cleaning up after a fire isn’t something anyone plans on. But whether you have a house fire or experience the impacts of wildfires, you need professional help.
From smoke inhalation to mold and mildew, almost every aspect of fire damage restoration can negatively impact your health. there is no DIY fire damage restoration. You can only get back to normal with the right protective equipment and tools. So if the fire department tells you to get out and stay out, then they do so to protect you, and your next call should be to your insurance agent and a professional restoration company.
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