Last summer, those of us living in the Magic Valley were well aware of the wildfires here in Southern Idaho. We could see – and smell – the smoke for weeks! Thankfully, wildfires themselves don’t typically make it into the city limits (thanks to the efforts of hardworking local and volunteer firefighters!). But smoke damage can occur in our homes quickly if we’re not careful.
Smoke damage is most commonly caused by kitchen flare-ups, closed off fireplace ducts, and electrical fires. Once everyone is safe and the any fire has been put out, the next biggest concern for a homeowner is damage control – property damage control, that is. Particularly if there’s smoke damage, which there’s bound to be after any fire or other dangerous incident involving heat. Overheating oil while cooking, for example, can often lead to some major smoke! Smoke can seep into the walls, ceilings, and floors of a home, as well as the furniture, making it difficult to get rid of that smoky smell.
According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), “immediately after a fire, soot residue settles onto the property. Discoloration of porous materials is permanent, but other surfaces may be properly cleaned to remove the discoloration. Acidic soot begins staining other surfaces if not treated quickly…If left untreated, within weeks the restoration process will take longer and cost more”.
If your home has just suffered minor (or even major) smoke damage, here are some things you can consider to start getting your home back to the way it was.
1. Safety first! Be sure to wear goggles, gloves, and face masks if necessary, depending on the damage. And make sure any young children, elderly, or sick individuals visiting or living in your home are outside (if weather permits), in an area of the home not affected by the smoke damage, or are otherwise away from the area of the home with the most smoke. Inhaling too many fumes from any kind of fire is never a good thing!
2. Ventilate! Ventilate! Ventilate! This cannot be stressed enough. One of the most important things you can do besides making sure everyone is safe after an incident resulting in a lot of smoke is to open doors and windows as quickly as possible to increase the flow of fresh air, as well as to start minimizing the risk of odor damage potentially caused by smoke. Another things you can do is turn on fans, and place them in the direction of the bulk of the smoke, towards the open doors and windows in order to help push the smoke outside. Industrial fans can also be rented if necessary to help with this process if the damage is much larger than a simple cooking mishap, but typically, a simple fan or two will work just fine. It may also be wise to turn off the heating or air conditioning while ventilating, so as to not spread any more smoke if they kick on during the cleaning process. (Think about replacing your HVAC filters as well!)
3. Clean the area. Wipe down surfaces, countertops, furniture, appliances, walls, ceilings, light fixtures, light bulbs, and so on. Soot and most stains can disappear with basic cleaning products and a little elbow grease! You should also wash all of the clothing worn during the time of the smoke damage, as well as the ones you wear to clean it up if different. Also consider washing curtains and wiping down blinds. Depending on the amount of smoke and visible damage, it may be a good idea to throw away food that was openly exposed to the smoke. (Use your best judgment on this.) Finally, deodorize carpets if heavily exposed to smoke.
4. If all else fails, call the professionals! While many homeowners who experience smoke damage can solve the problem by opening some windows and wiping down some cabinets, some damage may be too much to handle. Here at Elite Restoration, we specialize in fire and smoke damage, and can help you get your home back to its smoke-free best! We offer 24-hour emergency service, with a response time of less than one hour. If the job seems too big, let us help you fix it. It’s what we do!