Practical Tips on How to Deal With Smoke Damage After a Fire

Updated on December 5, 2019
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Rachel Anderson is the Content Marketing Strategist of Arizona Fire & Water Restoration, Inc., a company based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Witnessing a fire consume your home and your belongings can be the most devastating experience of your life. And what makes the situation even more distressing is that you’ll have to face the messy aftermath.

Dealing with fire and smoke damage can take its toll on anyone. And that's why we’ve compiled a few practical tips to help make the process less stressful.

If you’ve experienced a fire at home, here’s how you can clean up more efficiently after smoke damage has done a number on your stuff.

Assessing the Damage

Before getting into the thick of things, you must first try to understand what you’re up against. Check the walls, the ceiling, and the different areas of the house to see the extent of the damage, and lookout for underlying issues that could potentially become bigger problems in the future. Also, evaluate the condition of your damaged belongings and discard the items that can’t be saved.

Assessing the situation will also help you decide whether or not to bring in and hire a professional to help you clean up.

Ventilating Your Home

Rooms can still feel hot and stuffy even if it has been days since the fire, so the first thing you should do when you enter the premises is to ventilate it. Open all the doors and the windows to get fresh air flowing in!

If, for some reason, opening the windows isn’t enough, you can also use fans – the bigger, the better! Industrial fans are perfect for this because they encourage greater air flow.

Oh, another important thing—turn off your HVAC system so the soot and smoke does not spread into other parts of the house.

Removing Odor From Walls

A quick wipe down of the walls and ceiling can eliminate surface residue, but that won’t be enough. To get rid of the foul smell and deep-seated dirt, mix a tablespoon of TSP with a gallon of warm water and give your walls another round of wipe down, then rinse. Don’t forget to wear goggles, a mask, and rubber gloves when doing this.

However, if the cleanup process is confusing you, consider hiring professionals for the job to avoid damaging your walls or the ceiling even more.

Changing Air Filters

It’s also essential to change all the air filters in your home after a fire. This includes the filters on your AC unit, furnace, fans, and vents, which may have been coated in soot and smoke.

Also, be sure to clean gaps, corners, and crevices were soot has likely settled. Your window and door frames will need a thorough wiping with soapy water, too.

Salvaging Furniture

You may be able to save some of your furniture pieces if they look like they haven’t sustained that much damage. If they’re made of wood, remove the soot by wiping a dry chemical sponge across the surface. Don’t scrub too hard, though, to avoid staining the wood grain with soot or smoke particles. Moreover, using super fine steel wool or wiping the surface with oil soap solution can help with tougher-to-remove soot.

For fabric-wrapped furniture and carpets, you’ll have to remove the soot first before you can start cleaning and deodorizing. Remember to only use a vacuum cleaner for removing soot and not brushes. Using a brush will only force the dirt deeper into the material.

Ask Help From the Pros

You should be able to address some minor issues and clean certain areas of your home by yourself, but it’s still wise to get fire and smoke damage restoration professionals on board.

A DIY-cleanup may be okay for small scale damage, but in cases of extensive devastation, calling in the pros is necessary. Reach out to several fire damage and smoke damage restorers near you. They can help you determine what areas require professional smoke damage restoration services.

If you’re not too sure about what your next steps should be, don’t hesitate to ask your insurance provider for suggestions. Your agent should be able to guide you and recommend the right people for the job.

On Recovering From Fire and Smoke Damage

The extent of fire and smoke damage on a home vary greatly, but the response to fire incidents and the damage they have caused generally stays the same. Recovering and cleaning up after a fire disaster can be a drawn out and stressful process, but it is not impossible. If the damage is too severe or too complicated to handle, you can always turn to the experts for advice and assistance.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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