What Is Professional Fire Restoration and Why Is It Needed?

March 26, 2019

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Professional fire restoration is needed for any home or commercial structure that has suffered through a fire, no matter the size of that blaze or extent of the damage. Restoring a structure after a fire ensures that the air is clean and the environment is safe from contamination and also protects that structure from future mold growth.

Fire restoration refers to cleaning and then completely restoring a fire-damaged structure to its original condition so that the building is structurally sound and free of hazardous chemicals and fire residue. Drying a structure after the use of fire-suppressant chemicals and water used to extinguish a blaze, and monitoring that structure for potential mold, mildew, and other such hazards are also part of this restoration work.

If your home or commercial building has suffered through any fire, it's good to understand the importance of professional fire damage restoration service. You can then ensure your structure is safe for occupation and protected from dangerous and unhealthy mold growth and other such contamination.

fire damage restoration

What Is Needed to Restore a Structure After a Fire

Restoring a structure after a fire involves a comprehensive plan for cleanup and rebuilding. Fire restoration services typically includes many of the following steps:

  • Salvageable items are removed from the structure and placed in an area where they can dry thoroughly. Unsalvageable items such as furniture and electronics are disposed of properly.
  • Parts of the structure damaged beyond repair are removed; these items can include drywall, ceiling and floor tiles, carpeting, plumbing fixtures, and the like.
  • Once all such items are cleared out of a fire-damaged area, that section of a home or other building is usually contained or sectioned off in some way. Plastic sheeting might be hung around the space, for example, to keep soot, ash, chemicals, and other debris from spreading to nearby areas of the structure.
  • A fire remediation expert will usually take measurements of the humidity or moisture in the air. These measurements tell him or her if the area is appropriately dried once their restoration work is complete.
  • Special vacuums remove all traces of smoke, soot, ash, fire-suppressant chemicals, and excess water. Additional cleaning with specialty detergents is often needed, to wash away soot and smoke stains, fire-suppressant chemicals, and other such materials.
  • Odor eliminators are applied to various areas, to remove the smell of smoke, chemicals, and burnt wood.
    High-powered dehumidifiers and other such equipment extract water and moisture from all surfaces of the affected area, to remove remnants of water used to extinguish the blaze.
  • Once humidity levels are normal, the restoration expert will work with building contractors to rebuild the structure; for example, he or she will install new wall studs, subflooring, drywall, ceiling and floor tiles, carpeting, and other such materials as needed.
  • The fire remediation expert will also work with the property owner to decide on replacement materials for items such as cabinetry or furniture, as needed.
  • Contractors will also paint walls, clean windows, and perform other such finish work.
  • Once salvageable items are dry, they also receive a thorough and deep cleaning.

Why Restoring a Structure Is Not a DIY Job

A homeowner or business owner should never take it upon themselves to attempt a fire cleanup. One important consideration is that the chemicals used to suppress fires are very dangerous for sinuses, eyes, and skin, and standard household detergents are ineffective for removing those chemicals. Inefficient cleanup can result in you breathing in those chemicals for many days or weeks after a fire.

fire damage cleanup and restoration in Cornelius

Soot, ash, and other fire residues are also very difficult if not impossible to remove with standard household vacuum cleaners. It's also easy to spread these particles to other areas of a structure without realizing it; ash and soot can cling to your shoes and clothes so that they then get tracked all over your home or office! These residues can also become airborne long after your cleanup attempts; you might then breathe in that bothersome debris and potentially suffer serious health problems.

It's also vital that a fire damage restoration service expert ensure your home or other structure is dried thoroughly after a fire and even monitor your home for potential mold growth. Note that building materials such as drywall and wood studs absorb water quickly and easily; if not dried properly, this moisture can soften that wood and lead to mold, mildew, and other such bothersome contaminants. For all these reasons, leave this restoration work to the pros!

Understanding Structural Damage After a Fire

After a fire, damage to certain structural materials is often apparent. Drywall is exceptionally easy to sear in a fire, as are areas of carpeting and other especially combustible materials in your home or office. Severe fires may leave holes in walls, floors, and ceilings so that these materials need outright replacement.

However, a structure can often suffer severe damage not obvious or visible to a property owner. For example, PVC pipes might release hazardous dioxins in the air when melted. Worn or softened pipes can also lead to water leaks, and leaking pipes typically lead to mold growth and damage to wood beams, subflooring, and the like.

After absorbing water used to extinguish a blaze, structural and other materials around your home or office might have hidden water stains, or be holding water in areas not readily visible. For example, carpet padding easily absorbs water that leads to mildew under the carpet. This water and dampness can also soften a structure's subfloor. A fire damage restoration expert will know where and how to examine building materials affected by fire so that your home or commercial building is structurally sound and stable.

Restoration Is Needed Even After a Small Fire

Don't assume that your home or office needs to suffer a significant, catastrophic fire to require the services of a restoration expert. Even a small stovetop fire or uncontrolled blaze in a fireplace can cause severe damage to a home! Note why you want to call a restoration expert no matter the size of a blaze at home or the office:

  • Even small amounts of excess water absorbed by carpeting or drywall can lead to mildew and mold. Once these contaminants develop, they then grow and spread quickly, leading to hazardous mold spores in the home as well as unpleasant odors.
  • Chemicals in household fire extinguishers can linger in the air long after a blaze has been put out; without proper cleanup, you might continue to breathe in those bothersome chemicals for days and even weeks!
  • Even a small fire, as well as a small amount of fire-suppressant chemicals and water used to extinguish the blaze, can damage drywall, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and the like. Without proper cleanup and repairs, these materials continue to degrade over time, making your home structurally unsound.
  • Small fires leave behind bothersome odors, but homeowners might go "nose blind" so that they don't notice these smells. However, these odors can cause headaches and other health concerns, and be bothersome to pets. Smoke odors are also the result of residual soot, ash, and other residues that you might breathe in or spread to other areas of your home or office. Proper cleanup and odor neutralizers will eradicate those smells.

Mold Remediation and Fire Restoration Services

Mold remediation after a fire might include consistent checking of the structure's moisture levels, as well as examining the area for mold growth. A restoration or mold remediation expert can also alert a property owner as to what needs to be done to prevent mold from developing after a fire, such as ensuring the structure is adequately ventilated and examining walls and ceilings for traces of mold growth.

If mold does develop after a fire, call a mold cleanup expert. Mold spores are very hazardous to your health and can quickly spread from one area of a structure to another. A mold cleanup expert can note if mold cleanup is an option, or if affected parts of your structure should be cut away and replaced altogether.

Related Questions

Why should a homeowner leave during fire repair services?

A homeowner or property owner might need to leave the premises during restoration services, as cleanup work often causes soot, ash, and chemicals to become airborne and settle elsewhere in a home or office. The structure can then be unsafe until cleanup completion.

How long does fire repair or restoration take?

Fire restoration is not typically a quick process. A restoration expert needs to ensure that every part of a structure is clean and structurally sound. The amount of water used to suppress a fire will also affect the time necessary for its removal and cleanup.

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