Fire can erupt instantly and often does so with minimal warning. Harsh flames can destroy everything in their path. Smoke damage and soot can also cause considerable damage to your possessions and home.
Get an in-depth understanding of smoke damage below.
What Is Smoke Damage?
Smoke damage is the physical damage from smoke. Instead of charred wood, smoke damage is subtle and may not be seen as actual damage. Nevertheless, it’s a threat to your health and to that of your family.
Signs You May Have Smoke Damage
These are the most noticeable signs of smoke damage:
- Smokey/burnt odors
- Yellowish paint or on countertops
- Visible soot on walls or surfaces
- Discoloration on level surfaces
Smoke, however, impacts materials differently. Not to mention, the temperature and fuel igniting the flame will create varying reactions.
Can Smoke Damage Be Removed?
In most cases, the answer to this is yes. But ultimately, it depends on the item.
Upholstery and Curtains
Yes. We use special tools to remove smoke particles from the upholstery. A home vacuum may push smoke particles and soot deeper into the material, worsening the damage.
Bedding and Clothing
Thick materials tend to hold odors more than thin or lightweight items. You may need to wash your bedding and clothing several times with a commercial cleaning detergent. Unless it’s charred or burnt, smoke damage can be eliminated.
Here’s where things get tricky. If you use the wrong cleaning agent, you can strip the stain and varnish. Additionally, some cleaning products cause rust and deterioration. A restoration specialist will have access to the products for your wood furniture.
Hardwood floors are porous, so smoke particles can be tough to remove. One way around this: refinish the floor. Most hardwood floors are protected by a coating, which means the smoke doesn’t actually penetrate the wood. Sand the floor and refinish.
If damage is minor, a good mop and deodorizing will eliminate the smoke damage.
What Can Be Salvaged From Smoke Damage?
If you’re not sure what can be saved, check out the list of salvageable smoke-damaged items:
Glass and ceramics
These are hard, nonporous materials that can withstand most smoke damage. Washing with vinegar and dish soap will remove any stains.
Similar to glass and ceramics, metal doesn’t absorb smoke particles. Grab a heavy-duty scrubber and wash with a vinegar-dish soap solution to eliminate any stains.
Reduce home restoration costs by salvaging items. There are, however, some items you can’t (or shouldn’t) save from smoke damage:
- Melted or stained plastic
- Nonperishable foods
- Hygiene products
Is It Safe to Stay in a Home With Smoke Damage?
Sitting in a smoke-damaged chair or sleeping with smoke-damaged walls exposes you to harmful chemicals. Over time, harsh smoke damage can impact indoor air quality and create serious health problems:
- Skin and eye irritation
- Chronic bronchitis
- Coughing and shortness of breath
- Heart or lung disease
If you or a loved one has a breathing condition (pneumonia, asthma, tuberculosis, lung cancer, etc.), smoke damage can worsen symptoms.
Timeline for Smoke Damage
When you have damage to your home, time is always of the essence. Review the IICRC’s recommended guidelines for fire and smoke damage below*.
All porous materials and synthetics should be wiped down to prevent permanent staining.
Hours to Days
All porous surfaces can become permanently stained by the smoke particles. These items include but are not limited to the following:
- Painted walls
- Wooden furniture
Metal surfaces may corrode, rust, or pit depending on their condition and require refinishing or replacement.
Any materials exposed to soot in this timeframe likely need replacement. After weeks have passed, soot will have embedded itself in the surface and fibers, resulting in longer, more expensive restoration. In this case, replacing items may be more cost-effective.
Need a Professional in Idaho? Call CTR Today.
Smoke damage is a serious concern after a house fire. Though not as obvious as fire damage, it affects many items within your home and might even impact the wellness of you and your loved ones. When in doubt, contact a home restoration specialist following a fire to your commercial or residential property.
At CTR, disaster professionals specialize in emergency clean-up and fire restoration processes. We offer all the services you need, from mold remediation to water damage, fire and smoke damage, structural cleaning, and construction. So get in touch with us today.