Is It Dangerous Staying In a House with Smoke Damage?

Category: Fire and Smoke Restoration

Houses with smoke damage are more common than most people would presume. Therefore, you don’t need to panic when it happens to your house. Smoke damage commonly affects the air quality of your home, wooden furniture, fabric like drapes, and upholstered furniture. 

This poses the question; is it safe to stay in a house with smoke damage? The answer to this is that it depends on different factors. In this blog, you will learn about the factors to consider before concluding on the safety of your house.

Common Types of Smoke Damage

Smoke damage comes in many different forms, including cigarette smoke, smoke from a cooking fire, and smoke from a structural fire. And while each category of smoke damage can be dangerous, the severity of the fire, the materials that ultimately burned, and if the fire was contained or not really determine the proper type of mitigation required; and if it’s safe to be actively living within the property or not. 

  1. Cigarette smoke damage: Smoke from cigarettes can accumulate within walls, carpet and duct work within a home, leaving harmful carcinogens that your family can breathe in.
  2. Cooking fire smoke damage: Think of burning something on the stove (i.e. you left a pot of macaroni cooking too long). In the majority of cooking fire cases, the damage can typically be cleaned because the items were burned at such a high combustion rate (meaning not a lot of soot is left over). Thus, the damage was confined to the area of the burn. Keep in mind however, this isn’t always the case, as sometimes cooking fires can lead to soot residue being distributed, through air ducts, throughout a home.
  3. Structural fire smoke damage: In structural fires, buildings become pressurized, and smoke enters the wall crevices, consequently reducing the strength of the structure. Burnt plastics also become sooty and sticky in such instances, therefore, causing corrosions, which can weaken the house further.

Soot & Debris Dictate The Necessary Remedy

When assessing smoke damage within a home, it’s important to understand the importance of soot and debris, as these two items dictate the appropriate restorative response. 

Debris, or the remnants from a fire (think coals in a fire pit) can come in many different shapes and forms, depending on the severity of the fire, and the materials that were involved. In these instances, assuming that the fire burned with little to no soot, the debris can be removed from the home, the proper cleaning techniques can be applied, and the area can be restored to its original form. 

Soot on the other hand is the result of incomplete combustion, and often described as a black powdery residue that can stick to just about anything (and spread to just about anywhere). Removal of soot can, in most cases, require professional cleaning due to how quick it can spread, how dangerous it can be, and where it can actually penetrate within a home (in walls, crevices, etc.). The process we follow at Green Clean is as follows:

  1. Inspecting and Testing: Before cleaning, we first test for smoke odors and soot. We inspect the entire house and surrounding areas to find out the affected areas.
  2. Subrogation: Here we identify and retrieve the specific item that led to the fire.
  3. Soot removal: Here is where the restoration process begins by removing all the soot and charred areas.
  4. Clean the affected areas: In this step, we clean affected items to ensure the eradication of all smoke and soot.
  5. Penetration: In this step, we neutralize and deodorize affected areas to eradicate the smoke odor.
  6. Sealing porous surfaces: Focusing primarily on drywalls, we seal the affected surfaces using products such as sealers and spray.

*Note: In many smoke damage situations debris and soot both exist, resulting in a combination of the cleaning explanations listed above. 

Ultimately, if you aren’t sure how to clean up after you experience smoke damage, or if you’re not confident on the extent of the damage, please give our restoration team a call right away. Improper cleaning of smoke can cause further damage, which can be very costly to your bank account and to your family’s health. 

So, please take any smoke damage you experience very seriously, and give Green Clean a call. We’re the right team, right away.

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