How Do You “Do” Fire Damage Restoration, and When Should You Call the Pros?

July 27, 2020

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Homeowners who have gone through a house fire might immediately search for how you “do” fire damage restoration and return your house to its original condition. After small fires, a homeowner or commercial property owner might handle cleanup and fire damage restoration on their own, but it’s vital to note when such work is outside your area of expertise and when it’s time to call on a professional instead!

Fire restoration starts with removing all damaged materials and items and ensuring an interior space is safe for occupation; this might include bracing load-bearing walls or covering damaged flooring. Water, soot, and ash extraction and then proper cleanup are needed, and then materials and surfaces are repaired or replaced. Mold remediation often follows fire and water damage cleanup.

While this is a quick summation of the fire damage restoration process, it’s vital that property owners understand all the steps involved in repair and restoration, as overlooking even the smallest detail can mean long-term damage. Without proper cleanup, your home or damaged business might also present health hazards to your family and other occupants!

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A property owner would also do well to note when this cleanup is more extensive than they might manage, so they know when to call a fire damage restoration company near them. This will ensure your home or business is structurally safe and ready for reoccupation after a fire, flood, or other such disaster!

How You “Do” Fire Damage Restoration

Before you start the fire damage restoration process, it’s vital that you ensure your safety! Remember that working around soot and ash “stirs up” those residues, making them airborne; this increases the risk of inhaling those contaminants and having them land on your hair and skin! Along with eye protection and a breathing apparatus, wear protective, disposable clothing and boots.

  • A fire-damaged structure might be structurally unsound, as fires easily damage load-bearing walls and beams and eat through a structure’s flooring! Bracing those walls and beams with new, undamaged 2×4 studs and covering over weakened floors with sturdy, secure plywood can ensure your safety while working inside a structure.
  • Fire-damaged and heat-damaged ceiling tiles are also often at risk of collapsing after a fire! A fire damage restoration contractor might simply pull down and remove those damaged tiles rather than trying to cover them, so there is no risk of injury to those working below.
  • Firefighters often use copious amounts of water or fire suppressant chemicals to extinguish a blaze. These often need proper extraction before cleanup and restoration can begin! Water-damaged materials also need thorough drying and dehumidifying after water extraction.
  • A thorough inspection will tell you what personal items and building materials are repairable and which need removing and replacing. Remember that drywall, carpet fibers and carpet padding, wood framing, upholstery and furniture foam, and other such materials absorb water rather quickly and encourage mold growth just as fast! Check for softened wood and drywall, musty odors, and other signs of irreparably damaged materials after water extraction.
  • Fires also leave behind lots of soot and ash which then works their way into carpet fibers, tile surfaces, wall and ceiling paint, and other such nooks and crannies. A household vacuum is not powerful enough to remove these residues; a heavy-duty commercial vacuum, safe for walls and other surfaces, is a better choice for removing soot, ash, and other such debris.
  • Burning materials often release toxic chemicals and fumes into the air; these toxins then tend to settle onto walls and other surfaces. Damaged plumbing pipes might also leak unsafe water and other contaminants. Proper cleanup and sanitizing is then needed after water and ash extraction.
  • Once surfaces are clean and sanitized, it’s time for repair and replacement! Damaged framing, drywall, carpet, and tile should be removed and replaced; never assume that they will return to their like-new condition over time, and never risk your home’s structural strength by leaving weakened framing in place!

After cleaning and fire damage restoration, your structure might need odor neutralizing services. Fires often leave behind very bothersome odors that are not only unpleasant but which can also result in headaches, sleep disturbances, and sinus irritation! Odor neutralizing doesn’t simply cover over those smells with perfumes but neutralizes the chemicals that cause them.

Are Fire and Smoke Damage Cleanup the Same?

Some building materials and surfaces don’t burn away but singe and char, creating large amounts of smoke. That smoke doesn’t just dissipate but settles along walls and ceilings, leaving behind unpleasant and unsightly stains! Smoke also carries toxins and unhealthy fumes which also become trapped inside a structure.

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When items smolder, it’s often easier to contain the damage and avoid the need for structural repairs on your property. In turn, you might not see damaged drywall, wood framing, and other such materials. However, trying to clean that smoke damage with simple household tools is often ineffective!

If your structure has suffered smoke damage, call a fire restoration expert. He or she ensures a thorough clean of your structure as well as odor neutralizing services, as mentioned, and can ensure all surfaces are safe and hygienic.

What Is Mold Remediation and Why Is It Needed After Fire Repairs?

After fire damage cleanup and repairs, mold remediation is often recommended. Remediation is different than mold removal, as this refers to reducing the risk of mold growth. Mold remediation starts with a check of the structure’s interior humidity levels; remember that water used for fire suppression doesn’t simply disappear but is absorbed by building materials or evaporates into the air.

If humidity levels inside a structure increase the risk of mold growth, your fire damage contractor might bring in heavy-duty humidifiers, heaters or blowers, fans, and other equipment designed to reduce environmental humidity. He or she also monitors that interior environment as needed, to ensure humidity levels decrease enough to reduce the risk of mold.

Your contractor will also check for developing mold around walls, underneath carpeting, and in other such areas, cleaning and removing growing spores. This helps stop the spread of mold before it can seep into wood framing, carpet padding, and other areas where it loves to grow!

After fire damage cleanup and repairs, consider mold remediation and especially if firefighters used water to extinguish that blaze. Even small water amounts, coupled with dark areas away from fresh air such as behind drywall and underneath carpeting, is a perfect recipe for mold growth. Remediation is often far less expensive than mold cleanup and repairs, so talk to your contractor about how to control the risk of mold after fire or water damage in your home or business.

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When Your Structure Needs Professional Fire Damage Restoration

If you drop a lit cigarette or candle on your home’s carpeting and only singe a small surface area, you probably don’t need professional fire damage restoration and repairs! However, a homeowner or commercial property owner should call a professional fire damage restoration company for a thorough inspection and repairs even after small fires, and if there is special risk of damage. Note what is meant by that and when you might call a fire restoration or water damage cleanup contractor near you:

  • If floods or fires have damaged electrical wiring, connections, circuit boxes, and other such features, a thorough inspection is vital! Worn and threadbare wires and damaged circuits and connectors create an electrical fire hazard quite easily. A fire damage restoration contractor can inspect those pieces and note if they need replacement.
  • If you notice a musty odor after fire or flood cleanup, this often indicates poor-quality water extraction and resultant mold or mildew growth. Don’t rely on a carpet cleaning company for needed shampooing and cleanup as they might overlook mold and mildew under the carpeting, but call a fire damage or water extraction contractor instead.
  • Not every homeowner or commercial property owner can identify load-bearing walls and framing, so it’s vital that you rely on a professional inspection of a fire made its way up any wall or along any doorway of your structure. Ignoring damaged load-bearing structures leads to eventual settling and shifting, interior cracks, and even the risk of a ceiling or floor collapse.
  • Call a fire damage restoration contractor near you if there is any risk of unhealthy, unhygienic, or toxic materials in the home after a fire or flood. These residues might come from burning rubber, grout, insulation, and other materials. A fire damage restoration company will ensure your structure is not just clean but also sanitary and safe for reoccupation!
  • A property owner should also never assume that certain materials are too strong to be affected a fire or flood! If you notice warped, cloudy, or uneven window glass, floor or shower tiles, or other materials and surfaces after a fire or flood, call a fire restoration contractor. Remember that heat, prolonged flooding, chemicals and other substances in floodwaters or fire suppression materials, and other factors can damage many building materials. If anything in your home or business looks a bit “off” in any way, call a restoration expert!

It’s also vital to schedule professional fire damage restoration if you’ve already attempted DIY cleanup and repairs, and still note smoky odors, ash, soot, smoke stains, and other residual damage. A restoration contractor will make quick work of proper, thorough restoration so you can safely and comfortably reoccupy your structure and move on after a fire or flood!


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