After a fire most people notice smoke odor for months. It’s difficult to remove because it gets literally everywhere air currents travel. Combustion particles can be as small as 2.5 microns. As a point of reverence the human hair averages 70 micron diameter. Smoke particles are much too small to be seen by the human eye and can float around for days until they settle. Often finding hard to reach areas with limited access that can be just about impossible to access.
To remove the odor many basic cleaning steps are required as well as specialty equipment and odor neutralizers. Some people assume they can clean the area but improper cleaning methods can often drive the soot deep into the surface leaving unsightly soot stains that can be permanent.
STOP Restoration specializes in disaster restoration and one event we’ve run into frequently this summer is smoke damage after minor fires or incomplete combustion from fire places.
It can be overwhelming to think that smoke and soot could be anywhere air is inside your home and cleaning it can be an extremely time consuming, labor intensive process that may not be 100% effective if you don’t get all the particles.
One common complaint we hear from customers is that they do the initial cleaning and the odor seems to go away but returns after a couple weeks or months. What is happening is that most of the soot may have been removed but some was missed and as the humidity and temperature increase, odors become more noticeable. This invisible soot is what people are smelling but the odor may be so light that it can be hard to track down.
We’ve dealt with enough smoke damage to know it’s best if we can be the first to clean. It helps us to know where the fire started and what areas are most heavily affected. Sometimes we have to go to the extent of removing cabinetry to clean behind them or may have to remove insulation from the structure. The key is that we need to remove the soot particles as much as possible and then sealing and painting is often also required for certain areas that are not able to be cleaned.
It’s also important to clean the area quickly as soot particles are acidic and if left in contact with materials they can corrode over time. In some cases we can do a quick mitigation clean where we wipe down surfaces lightly with an alkaline based cleanser to neutralize any acidity. After that, we generally have more time to do a more thorough cleaning without risking further damage to the fixtures, countertops and/or furniture.
If you get into a situation where you need fire and/or smoke cleaning give us a call at (336) 203-0739. We can walk you through everything we need to do and will be happy to walk the adjuster through our estimate as well to ensure we’re all aligned.