A fire damage cleanup is not a regular house cleaning. Special techniques and tools are required to do the job right!
I watched a professional fire restoration company use a water based cleaner to clean the walls. Water based stain removers will only encourage the stain to sink in farther. Instead, they should have used chemical sponge to remove as much of the stain as possible. There were so many processes done incorrectly, that I was baffled that the homeowner hired them to do the job.
After seeing their estimate, I now understand why. Remember that old adage, you get what you pay for? It was estimated as if they were performing a regular house cleaning job, which is what the homeowner got.
Keep in mind that this was a two bedroom, 1 bathroom duplex with a living room and kitchen. The source of the fire was in the kitchen and the entire kitchen had to be gutted and the carpet was trashed. The estimate was for cleaning (not fire soot removal) of all of the interior walls, ceilings (which was a popcorn ceiling) and flooring. They cleaned the 3 week damaged carpet (which still looked trashed) in the bedrooms.
They then ran an ozone generator for odor removal, which is accepted in this industry. However, this is a duplex with exposed cavities where materials were removed leading to my friends unit. Um, where were the safety precautions? Many companies will offer ozone treatments as a way of knocking out the odor. Be wary! While ozone is useful for removing some smoke odor, if not used VERY carefully it can cause rapid deterioration and oxidation of fabrics. This damage is real and irreversible! Ozone treatments can also be harmful to the indoor air quality. Here is a link from the EPA about Ozone use. The potential health affects to occupants, pets and plants and the damage to property are something to keep in mind before having an ozone generator run in your home.
The homeowner chose to do the restoration end themselves. I get that because I am a big DIY girl. The homeowner proceeded to paint one layer of primer over the paint and then painted the walls. Guess what happened? You guessed it… the stain is showing through the paint. For some projects, knowledge is key. If you are going to do a project yourself, research!
Per the IICRC there are certain standards set in place for performing this type of cleanup. These standards were developed to ensure the homeowner has their home back to its pre-loss condition without stains and odor.
The first thing a fire damage professional will do is remove the source of odor, salvageable and unsalvageable items. The salvageable items will be cleaned to remove odor-causing residue. Using a deodorizing fogger (also known as a thermal fogger), they will counteract any remaining odor. These items would then be sealed and stored to prevent recontamination.
The second thing a fire damage professional will do is remove unsalvageable materials and as much soot as possible from all flat and horizontal surfaces in ALL affected areas. When dealing with popcorn ceilings that have soot, rule of thumb is to scrape this off. Also, depending on the materials affected, i.e. tile, vinyl, drywall, brick, the solutions used to clean the soot will be different. Not using the proper solution can and usually does cause extra damage.
They will then use a thermal fogging process. Just how fire can open the pores of materials, this fogger will open the pores and release the trapped odor causing molecules. It effectively neutralizes odor without damaging property.
Have a project you would like us to look at? Wipe Out will provide you with an estimate, free of charge! Call (904) 567-3885 today for your free quote.
Did you know?
–Within minutes, acid soot residues cause plastics to yellow; small appliances located close to the source of combustion will discolor; highly porous materials discolor permanently.
–Within hours, this residue stains floor grout, yellows fixtures; uncoated metals will tarnish, counter tops may yellow, finishes to appliances may yellow and furniture finishes may discolor.
–Within days, this residue causes yellowing of painted walls permanently; metal will corrode, pit and/or rust; wood furniture will require refinishing, vinyl flooring will require replacement, clothing becomes stained, upholstery stains permanently.
–Within weeks, carpet will yellow or discolor permanently; etching and pitting can occur on glass, crystal and china.