Damage to Your Property After a Fire
Fires can be one of the most terrifying and devastating disasters to happen to your home or business. They can destroy your possessions, damage the structure of your property, and in a worst-case scenario, even take someone’s life.
It’s no surprise then, that once the fire has been put out, the restoration tasks at hand can seem upsetting, overwhelming and near impossible. Fortunately, there are professionals ready to help.
It may be that you are unable to return to your home or place of business until significant fire damage is repaired. Where the fire has left substantial damage to your property’s structural integrity, where there is dangerous soot pollution, or where there is water damage from sprinklers/fire fighters, a professional restorer like Restorations (UK) will be required to help.
Smoke Odour When You Return to Your Property
In the situation where it has been deemed safe enough for you to return to your property after a fire, you may find that there is still a lingering smoke smell throughout. This can differ in severity depending on a number of factors, including:
- How big the fire was
- How long your property was exposed to smoke
- What materials were burned / damaged in the fire
There is no denying that getting rid of the smoke smell in your property after a fire is a challenge. If you have already had people come into your home or business to repair fire damage and clean, it may be that they didn’t do as thorough job as they should have to remove the odour.
We would always recommend speaking with an odour removal specialist to get the job done properly and thoroughly. However, there are some things you can do yourself:
1. Air Out Your Property – Let Fresh Air
The first thing you can do to try and reduce the smoke smell in your property is to provide plenty of ventilation. Open all your windows and doors to let in as much fresh air as possible.
To make this technique work harder, you can also strategically place fans around your property to circulate the air, encouraging the smoke odour outside – e.g., facing corners of rooms, facing towards windows and doors.
2. Use ‘Positive Pressure’ to Force Smoke Odour Out
If airing out your property didn’t help, or the smoke smells are very strong, you can try using something called ‘positive pressure’ to force the odours outside. This works by causing the air pressure in your property to exceed the air pressure outside – forcing inside air in your home or business to leave. To do this, you will need to:
- Open your front door and place a very large fan outside the doorway, facing into your property.
- Focusing on one room at a time, leave the first room’s door open, and close all other doors and windows inside your property, leaving one window open in the first room to act as the output for the smoke odours.
- Turn the fan on the highest setting it can go to force fresh air into the building, in turn guiding the smoke smells out of the open window of the first room.
- Once you have done this for around 15 minutes or so, close the window and door in the first room and move onto the next, following the same process.
3. Clean Fabrics, Carpets and Upholstery
Fabrics, carpets and upholstery are some of the biggest culprits for retaining smoke odour in your home or business after a fire. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to eliminate trapped smoke smells:
You will want to remove, wash and dry the following fabrics (particularly in your home, and according to their care instructions):
- Cushion covers
- Sofa covers
Once they have been cleaned, you don’t want to reintroduce them into your property until further culprits of smoke odour have been eliminated as they can reabsorb these smells.
Smoke particles can make their way deep into carpet fibres. One favoured way of removing the odour in this area is to sprinkle baking powder generously over your carpets and leave it to sit overnight. Once this is done, you should then clean it thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner that uses a HEPA filter (to stop the smoke particles escaping back into the room).
Steam cleaning your carpets is also an effective option. However, if neither of these two methods work, it would be beneficial to speak an odour removal specialist.
Where possible, you should remove any upholstery covers and wash them as referenced under ‘Fabrics’. Where this is not possible, you can also try the aforementioned baking powder method, leaving it to sit overnight and vacuuming it up afterwards.
Steaming certain types of upholstery is also an option (but be careful with delicate materials like leather where this will not be suitable). However, much like carpets, if you are unable to eradicate the odours from your upholstery, you may need to contact a specialist.
4. Clean Surfaces & Windows
All surfaces, including walls, uncarpeted floors, cabinets, countertops, tables, appliances, light fixtures and windows can have smoke particles settle on them, so these should be thoroughly cleaned as well.
The cleaning solution you use will vary depending on the surface you are cleaning (you may need to use special cleaning products for some surfaces). However, generally you can use a mixture of washing up liquid, white vinegar, and warm water.
When mopping floors, make sure you empty the water between mopping to ensure you aren’t mixing smoke particles back onto the floor.
For walls, there is the chance that you may need to repaint them as paint can retain smoke particles too. Special cleaning products that contain ammonia or glycol will need to be used to wash the walls first prior to fully repainting.
5. Consider Wall Cavities
One area that many homeowners and business owners neglect to consider when it comes to odour removal is smoke odour trapped in wall cavities. Unfortunately, general cleaning isn’t enough to get rid of smoke odour trapped in these places in your property, and you will require a specialist like Restorations (UK) to help.
Professional Approaches to Remove Smoke Odour
If smoke smells are still lingering in your home or business after cleaning your property, there are a number of techniques that specialists like Restorations (UK) can use to decontaminate and remove odour.
To disinfect and deodorise surfaces and furnishings, we use a cold fogger to spray very fine particles of solution onto affected surfaces in a controlled manner.
Similar to wet fogging, the main difference is that thermal fogging is dry. It is used to simulate the smoke’s journey through the building, deodorising surfaces as it goes.
Once affected areas have been fogged using one of the above techniques, we can use a specialist sealant to seal the odour behind in places that are not accessible (e.g. voids)
Ozone is a great product for removing trapped smoke odours. This reactive molecule, Ozone (03), reacts with particles and breaks down molecules that are causing unpleasant odours.