The Basics of Fire Damage Restoration
Even if a blaze is contained and extinguished quickly, the damage to an Indianapolis, Noblesville, or Carmel home can be both extensive and in some cases not immediately apparent to the untrained eye. Accordingly, fire remediation is a complex multistep process. What follows should help you understand how that process unfolds.
Before we begin, though, a word of caution: The guide is not being provided so that homeowners can tackle fire damage restoration themselves in a gung ho DIY spirit. Fire restoration truly is a job for experts. If you’re not an expert, you’re all too likely to end up with unsatisfactory results including a home that remains unsafe.
Fire Damage Restoration Step #1: Making Sure the Property is Stabilized and Safe to Enter
No fire remediation expert will enter a fire-damaged building without first looking for signs of structural damage and then stabilizing the building as necessary.
Obviously, you shouldn’t go in before the experts do no matter how worried you may be about the fate of irreplaceable family mementos or that new giant flat-screen TV. You don’t want the building falling down on your head.
Fire Damage Restoration Step #2: Minimizing the Damage
Minimizing damage is a multifaceted operation in itself because fires produce multiple forms of damage. Soot staining happens when the soot the fire put into the air sticks to surfaces and discolors them. Depending on the material (vulnerable materials include wood, textiles, grout, plastics, metals, and carpeting) and the time the soot has adhered to it, the stain may come off completely, or a residue may remain. In any case, fire remediation experts will clean surfaces as well as it is possible to do so.
In the aftermath of a fire, air quality can be compromised as often evidenced by a telltale smell. Fire damage restoration professionals use air scrubbers and air movers to address this problem. Smoke damage cleanup products are used to clean surfaces that have absorbed smoke. It’s important to clean smoke-damaged furniture as soon as possible to have any chance of restoring it to its original condition.
It’s likely water was used to fight the fire, and an unfortunate side effect of this is that metals get wet, oxidize, and become rusty or corroded. It’s especially important to examine electronics for signs of damage that can not only cause them to malfunction but produce a risk of electric shock. (Unfortunately, such damage often proves to be irreparable.)
Water and lingering dampness can foster the growth of hazardous mold and mildew as well. As they look for water damage, fire damage restoration professionals know that it can be a warning sign of mold infestation as well even if the mold isn’t currently visible. If there is mold, mold mitigation should begin fast to keep the growth from spreading.
Fire Damage Restoration Step #3: Soot and Debris Removal
Before fire mitigation proper or water damage restoration can truly begin, the fire damage restoration professionals have to get rid of all the soot and debris left in the home. As mentioned previously, the soot will do increasing amounts of damage the longer it’s allowed to remain, and the debris would get in the workers’ way. Additionally, removal will combat airborne smells and air quality will improve.
Lingering soot can be wiped away, vacuumed away, or swept up.
Fire Damage Restoration Step #4: Removing Personal Items
Sadly, fires can damage some of possessions beyond a fire mitigation expert’s ability to restore, and these must simply be discarded. Your fire damage restoration professionals will exercise special care when handling electronics as they can hold an electric charge even when unplugged.
It may also prove necessary to remove other items. Some damaged items can be salvaged, especially if the cleaning process begins quickly. In other cases, items are undamaged but must still be moved for the time being to prevent contamination.
Fire Damage Restoration Step #5: Water Removal and Drying
To prevent further water damage, fire mitigation experts remove any standing water as quickly as possible. Because water has likely soaked into floors, walls, and possibly even scaffolding, they’ll use air movers and commercial dehumidifiers to aid in the drying process.
Fire Damage Restoration Step #6: Deodorizing, Deep Cleaning, and Stain Removal
This step of the process naturally begins with determining what can’t be saved and what can. When something can, the fire mitigation professionals clean and deodorize it with products that vary according to the material and the degree to which smoke, mold, or mildew has penetrated it.
Curtains, rugs, carpets, and other cloth items are especially vulnerable to the various forms of damage that can result from a fire. Generally speaking, a quick inspection can determine what’s unsalvageable and what may yet be saved by special drying and cleaning methods.
Even a dedicated team of fire damage restoration experts can’t tackle the cleaning of every item at once, so if there are some that have priority, homeowners should let them know that, particularly when an item’s cherished status isn’t evident to a stranger. By the same token, the fire mitigation team should keep homeowners updated on which items have proved to be salvageable and which have not.