After the Fire – Smoke, Soot and Odor Removal

CWildfire House - utahfireinfo.govolorado wildfires have swept across areas of the state, destroying many homes and businesses, and causing as many as 30,000 residents to evacuate their homes. Structures that were not totally destroyed will need to be cleaned of smoke damage, soot and odor. For the cleaning, we have assembled a few pointers to help start the process.

Smoke, Soot and Odor Removal Tips

Before you get started removing anything, you should use a video or digital camera to document the damage as soon as possible. By recording all of the fire damage, it makes it easier for yourself, your insurance company and your property restoration company to have a record of the damage.
  • Safety first! Avoid skin or lung irritation. Wear plastic or rubber gloves, an N95 mask, and goggles during cleanup.
  • Get started promptly. The longer soot or ash sits on a surface, the more damage it does.
  • Pressure wash/scrub/disinfect all exterior surfaces including walls, walks, drives, decks, window and deck screens, etc.
  • Wash and disinfect all interior walls and hard surfaces with mild soap or other appropriate cleaning solutions or products and rinse thoroughly. Don’t forget inside cabinets, drawers and closets.
  • Launder or dry clean all clothing.
  • Wash, dust or otherwise clean all household items like picture frames and knick-knacks, etc.
  • Clean all carpets, window coverings, upholstered furniture and mattresses with steam or other appropriate equipment to clean, disinfect and deodorize.
  • Upholstery, fabric window treatments, etc. can be spray treated with deodorizing products available at most supermarkets. Do not use odor-masking sprays.
  • Have HVAC and all ductwork professionally cleaned to remove soot, ash and smoke residue. Change HVAC filters when you first return and at least once a month for the first year.
  • If aerial fire retardant or firefighting foam residue is present on the house and/or automobiles, use a mild detergent and brushes to scrub and dilute the dried residue and flush it from the surfaces, and rinse with clean water. A follow-up with pressure washing may be beneficial, but will not replace scrubbing to remove the residue.
For professional fire and smoke damage restoration companies that guarantee 100% odor removal, here are the procedures you can expect:
  • Ozoning – Restoration companies use ozone machines which are capable of destroying molecules, bacteria and spores that cause the odors. As the ozone molecule is released and attached to other molecules, it chemically changes the structure of the odor-producing molecules resulting in eradicating the smell.
  • Hydroxyls – With a hydroxyl generator, restoration companies are also able to destroy odors. These generators harness the power of UV light which then reacts with ambient moisture in the air to create Hydroxyl. Hydroxyls molecules eliminate odor-producing bacteria, airborne particles and other elements that cause odors.
  • Thermal Fogging – A thermal fogging chamber uses a special solvent-based deodorizer that is heated and applied as a dry fog. The particles are capable of penetrating the porous surfaces harboring the odor molecules. There are a variety of scented fogging agents to combat different odors ranging from fire, food or cigarettes.
  • Ash and soot on the ground and vegetation in the vicinity will continue to generate smoke odors and airborne particles when disturbed by air movement. Until the ash and soot are diluted and absorbed by the environment, indoor mechanical air filtration (HEPA air filter) may help minimize the uncomfortable and potentially health-threatening impact of these pollutants.
The quicker you start the cleaning process after a fire, the better. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to remove the odor from smoke and fire. For your fire damage restoration needs or questions, contact NuBilt Restoration & Construction. NuBilt has been restoring properties since 1994 and offers full property restoration services. NuBilt offers a 100% guarantee on odor removing services. Source: Additional resources:  
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