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Smoke Damage Repair

Every material has its own method for proper smoke damage repair and cleaning. As such, there are slight differences to restoration techniques for virtually every type of material affected by smoke damage.

As a company that specializes in contents cleaning, we at 1-800 Water Damage of Western Colorado have been through hundreds of hours of training between all our employees on this very subject. Even for us though, never take a cookie-cutter approach for smoke damage repair.

What Is Smoke Damage 

First off, what is smoke damage and why is it so difficult to clean? Every material, once it reaches a certain temperature, begins to burn. The burning process releases smoke. The process is like boiling water. At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, water boils, releasing steam. The molecules have gained enough energy through the increase in heat that they become gaseous. Every liquid, and even solid material goes through a similar process, at varying temperatures. Which means that even plastics, chemicals, and textiles can become airborne, given enough heat from a fire.

Oftentimes, fires in homes create both noxious gasses (smoke damage) and vast amounts of soot, from material in the home, burning. Airborne smoke and soot then travel into every nook and cranny of the property. How to remove the smoke damage from there is the great challenge of all disaster restoration companies.

Fires and Materials 

Fires can start in virtually any area of a home or property. We’ve seen fires start from overheated electrical wires, candles falling over, and ham severally overcooking in the oven. We’ve seen finishing nails from amateur carpenters start $100,000 fire losses. We’ve seen fires happen in professional office spaces that contained asbestos, which required abatement on top of the smoke damage repair and structural restoration.

Fires affect each type of material differently. Plastics burn and contaminate indoor atmospheres, then melt. Fabrics get covered in soot, then singe and either burn or melt. Smoke damage cling to metals throughout the house and the acid of the soot etches and rusts doorknobs, appliances, nails, and plumbing. Rubber quickly deteriorates, then melts.

The hardest part about smoke damage repair is that a fire may start in the kitchen, but the ensuing smoke damage may cover the entire house. Every house has its own unique difficult-to-reach places that no one ever thinks about until smoke settles in there. Most older houses also “breathe” well, meaning that there is a decent amount of air exchange with the outside. Newer homes “breathe” far less as they are built much more tightly. But every house has draft areas or small cavities behind walls in which smoke damage travels to during a fire.

Removing Smoke Smell is Difficult

When a fire starts in a building, the temperature can easily reach 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, most normal household materials easily catch fire at that temperature. The amazing part is that the actual fire does not even need to touch a portion of the house for it to catch fire when the internal temperature gets hot enough. Paper, for example, spontaneously combusts at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wood catches fire at 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that sections of a home can catch fire from across the room of an actively burning fire if the temperature is high enough.

When temperatures get high, porous materials in the home also “open up.” Heat causes expansion, and the expansion creates larger gaps in already-porous material like drywall, wood, rubber, and plastic. While heated up, smoke and soot particles get into the enlarged gaps, in large quantities. After the fire is put out and the indoor temperature returns to normal, those enlarged gaps in porous material return to their normal size – trapping the soot and smoke within. This makes removing that smoke smell very difficult. Many disaster restoration companies don’t know how to remove smoke damage properly because they don’t know how to get those porous gaps to release the smoke and soot damage inside. Unless all smoke damage affected material is removed from the property, the only way to fully restore material is to heat it up, allowing pores to open once again. Then, while heated, we clean the material.

If, during smoke damage repair, smoke and soot particles aren’t removed from porous materials properly, no amount of contents cleaning will get rid of the “fire smell” forever. Many disaster restoration companies use soap and brushes for contents cleaning. But the best cleaner for smoke damage is a restoration contractor who specializes in smoke damage repair. We at
1-800 Water Damage can fully extract smoke and soot particles from porous material, certifiably completing any smoke damage repair job so that the contents of the home are returned to their pre-fire state.

Smoke Damage Repair Technology

There are several advanced sets of technology specifically designed for smoke damage repair on the market today. The Fireline Ionizer allows disaster restoration companies to do contents cleaning for electronics, using de-ionized water. The Fireline Ultrasonic is the best cleaner for smoke damage for “hard contents” such as plastics, ceramics, and metal. And the Esporta wash system is the world’s best “soft contents” cleaner, for clothing, bedding, towels, and the like. The Esporta is the single best commercial washer for removing smoke damage and soot.

This technology allows disaster restoration companies to extract soot and smoke particles buried deep within porous materials. Without removing the deeply-imbedded soot and smoke particles, no smoke damage repair job can be completed properly. Thus, companies that don’t have this technology (which again, most don’t, because it’s very expensive and takes up a lot of facility space) absolutely cannot properly complete smoke damage repair and contents cleaning jobs.

Fire Damage Restoration Western Colorado

However, 1-800 Water Damage is the experts at fire damage restoration in Western Colorado, and we partner with Packoutz of Western Colorado, who specializes in contents cleaning. Between us and our partners, we have the Ionizer, the Ultrasonic cleaner, and Esporta wash system.

Having these top-of-the-line contents cleaning systems allows us to handle any size job for fire damage restoration and smoke damage repair. We begin all smoke damage repair jobs by immediately cleaning all surfaces with soot or smoke damage on them. Soot is acidic, and if left on a material will cause corrosion. We prevent “secondary” corrosion damage by wiping surfaces with a base liquid.

We then take inventory of the home and begin our “pack-out” of items most important to the homeowner and those most likely to be destroyed if we don’t clean them quickly. All contents of the home are sorted into boxes based on the type of smoke damage repair they will receive: electronics go to the Ionizer, hard contents go to the Ultrasonic cleaner, and soft contents go to the Esporta.

Once contents arrive at our facility, we unpack boxes and clean them assembly-line style according to their category. Once clean, contents are typically stored in our facility until fire damage restoration is completed in the home. Once the home has been completely reconstructed, contents are placed in new boxes, taken back to the home, and unboxed. We never leave a home without putting every single item back where we found it when we picked everything up.

Best Cleaner for Smoke Damage

Quality matters. It’s never just cleaning a home and taking away the smoke smell. It’s about doing the best job possible so the homeowner can sleep well at night. It’s about handling every part of each job with the right equipment so insurance companies don’t overpay disaster restoration companies for work they perform. At 1-800 Water Damage we’ve learned how to properly perform smoke damage repair, and we are the very best cleaner for smoke damage in our industry.

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