Understanding the Impact of Smoke Damage

Everyone knows that fires are dangerous. What if we told you that it’s never the flames that bring the greatest risk to your property and health, but the smoke? Little do people know, smoke damage is one of the leading causes of deaths when it comes to fires. While direct exposure to smoke can affect your respiratory system, it also brings permanent damage to the property’s bones and foundation.

Regardless of the type of fire, smoke damage brings along hazardous compounds like soot, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. However, depending upon what is actually burning, several other harmful chemicals can enter your respiratory system and can latch onto the walls, clothing, ductwork, and furniture of your home. Here is an article to help you understand smoke damage better.


Hot air tends to rise while cold air sinks. This is why smoke damage can be usually found in the following areas:

  • Walls and Windows Located Outside: Even if the fire is concentrated in the center of the room, the hot air opens up a path for the smoke to travel to the exterior walls and windows. Therefore, you will find a lot of smoke residue on the exterior walls and windows of your home.
  • Directly Above the Blazing Fire: Considering that no strong air currents are flowing through the property, the highest smoke concentration can be found right above the burning flames.

Airflow Pattern

Did you know that air currents can carry soot and smoke away from the fire and deposit it in unique places? Here are two examples:

  • On the Far Side of Door Openings: Like water flowing around stones in a stream, smoke moves around objects in its path. By acting as filters, these impediments increase the amount of smoke residue that is deposited on the ceilings directly above and to the far side of door openings. The pattern becomes less pronounced the farther the smoke is carried away from the fire.
  • Inside the Ductwork: Smoke enters the cooler ductwork even when the forced-air system is not operating. The corridor causes damage to regions where the fire would otherwise have had little to no influence or to rooms located far from the fire.

Surrounding Environment

Furniture, accessories, enclosed areas, and other elements in homes can interact with smoke. Smoke damage can occasionally be found in odd areas, but after you analyze what makes it interact with the surroundings, it starts to make sense. For instance, smoke damage is frequently observed:

  • Enclosed Spaces: Smoke damage frequently occurs in dresser drawers, closed closets, and wall cavities that appear to be sealed off from the outside world. The explanation is that warmer air has molecules that are more energized. The increased energy produced by the fast movement is sufficient to propel smoke particles through the air. Because there is insufficient energy to maintain particles in the airstream in cooler, more confined portions of the atmosphere where molecules travel more slowly, particles fall from the airstream and land on surfaces.
  • Behind the Blinds and Drapes: The area behind the drapes is much cooler than the surrounding space. It's typical to find a lot more smoke residue behind the draperies than on the surface facing the room because smoke naturally flows to cooler locations. The smoke damage, in this case, is a good indication of the actual total damage because venetian blinds and draw shades frequently attract smoke residue more than nearby surfaces.

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