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Updated: October 21, 2015
Unless you take the time to get professional advice, you may be wasting your efforts and money trying to clean your home after a fire. While many things can be done by one contracting company, you may need to hire others for more meticulous jobs.
All types of damages considered, the average cost to repair fire and smoke damage is around $4,000, with some customers reporting damages costing as little as $800 and more extensive damages costing $12,000 and higher.
You will need to dry wet items as soon as possible. Your professional will bring large industrial fans and dehumidifiers to dry your carpets and window treatments. If not thoroughly dried, carpets and floors underneath may be quickly damaged beyond repair by mold and mildew. This is an important step. Otherwise they may have to be replaced. If walls and ceilings have water damage, they will need to be repaired or fully replaced. Soot will need to be removed to inspect damage as well.
Soot is oily and easily stains carpets, draperies and other items in your home. For this reason you must remove the soot before you attempt to clean or deodorize items. Your professional will remove window coverings and furniture and work on removing soot with a heavy-duty vacuum. In some cases, your textiles may just be ruined and need to be replaced, so ask if they are worth cleaning before you spend the money to do so. Based on the type of paint and finish you have on your walls and ceiling, your professional will have to use a mixture of chemicals to remove the soot damage.
Furniture and textile deodorizing
Smoke odor may remain in clothing, upholstered furniture, carpets, and draperies unless they are properly deodorized before cleaning. Consult professional fire restorers or dry cleaners about using a counteractant, a chemical or additive that breaks up smoke molecules to eliminate odors. The type used will vary with the type of material burned in the fire. Restorers also may provide them for laundering clothes for an additional fee. Fire restorers and dry cleaners sometimes use an ozone treatment to break up smoke molecules and eliminate odors. If the process is done in the home, items are put under a tent while an ozone generator is operating. Keep in mind that most household deodorizing sprays and disinfectants provide only temporary relief. In addition, deodorizing sprays may interact with smoke odor and create an additional odor.
Walls, surfaces and ducts
During a fire, smoke can permeate walls and drift through household ducts, where it becomes trapped. If not properly removed, smoke odor will rise up again from time to time, especially during warm or damp weather. Consult professional restorers about a process known as thermal fogging. This warm chemical fog penetrates your home and walls just as the fire did, neutralizing the smoke odor as it goes. Also consult restorers about removing smoke from your ducts. They may use a chemical sealer to secure smoke permanently to the sides of your ducts since these areas, with their joints and crevices, may be difficult to clean with conventional vacuum-and-brush methods. You might also consider replacing the insulation in your attic, since insulation retains smoke during a fire and can cause the smell to move through your home during warm weather.
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