If your home was recently damaged by fire or smoke, the experts at AAA Restoration can help you get it cleaned up. Here are a few of the most common questions we get about fire damage and the services that we provide.
It might seem like fire damage is pretty much the same no matter what kind of fire you have, but the truth is that there are several different materials that create their own challenges and problems after they burn. The most common ones that we can help with include:
- Smoke residue from natural substances – when these “natural” items burn, such as wood or paper, they create a black or grey residue that can be cleaned with vacuums and dry sponges. There are often billions of tiny smoke particles in your home, in wall cavities, attic space, and even in your furniture. Professional fire restoration companies like AAA Restoration can help you get those microscopic particles cleaned up.
- Protein smoke residue – proteins like chicken or beef leave a greasy residue behind that is difficult to clean following kitchen fires.
- Residue from synthetic items – your home probably contains a lot of plastics and similar derivatives, which melt and smear when they get hot. They’re difficult to clean and will require the help of a professional.
- Oil burner malfunction – if your home heating system uses oil, the oil burner can malfunction during a fire. The result is burnt oil spread throughout the heating system, and the residue gets distributed through your entire home.
For your own safety, you should never enter a home that was damaged by fire until it has been deemed safe. Only trained and licensed professionals, such as a structural engineer or an industrial hygienist, are allowed to inspect a home after a fire to determine whether or not it is safe.
Cleaning your home is hard enough under the best conditions, but cleaning up after the devastation of a fire is difficult and potentially dangerous. If you have called a professional cleaning team and you’re waiting for them to arrive, there are a few things you can do in the meantime:
- Remove any standing water left behind from the firefighting efforts.
- Place carpet or fire fans from an industrial supplier in each room to help remove smoke and dry the remaining water.
- Place hardwood sheets under items that sit directly on the floor to reduce the chance of mold or mildew growth.
- Don’t throw anything out – wait until your insurance adjuster comes to examine the home and its contents before you remove anything, even if it’s destroyed.
- Apply Vaseline to metal objects to slow or prevent corrosion.
If the exterior doors or windows were damaged and you can’t lock the home, the best way to protect your home from unwanted intruders is to have a professional company board it up. While it may seem like an easy task to place plywood over your windows and doors, keep in mind that if you don’t do it correctly you may end up with intruders anyway, and you could even be liable if anyone gets into the home and gets injured while inside. It’s also a good idea to collect your most valuable items and keep them with you. If you do have the home boarded up, make sure there is a way for restoration contractors from AAA Restoration to get inside when they arrive to clean.
Technically you can clean it yourself if you prefer, but many homeowners discover that there are several problems they did not anticipate and are not adequately equipped to overcome, such as:
- Mixed residues from several different types of materials that burned. If you don’t clean them up correctly you could actually cause more damage to your home, and still need the help of a professional to fix it.
- Despite looking clean, the house still smells like smoke. Smoke particles are literally microscopic, so finding and cleaning every single one without the proper equipment is almost impossible. AAA Restoration can help you clean up the smoke particles that end up inside cabinets, walls, behind your trim, under the carpet, and more.
- A combination of water, chemical, and fire damage. If you or the fire department engaged in any fire suppression efforts, chances are there were water and chemicals involved. That complicates cleanup because you have to deal with all three types of damage in order to fix your home.
The best thing to do is throw out all of your food (after the insurance adjuster comes to take stock of it and identify its value). Even if your food looks like it is undamaged, the heat from the fire causes packaging to expand and there is a chance some smoke particles got inside. Cans that appear undamaged may have been heated to an unsafe level that causes food to spoil. Finally, firefighting chemicals may have come in contact with the food and would be poisonous to eat. Remove all the food in your home that was stored in permeable packages (plastic wrap, cardboard), as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Even food stored in the fridge should be discarded, since refrigerator doors are not airtight. If the power goes out, you may also need to discard foods stored in the freezer that thawed or were exposed to chemicals.
In most cases if you have fire coverage on your property or homeowners insurance, professional restoration is covered. AAA Restoration can work with you and your insurance company to help you understand the process and ensure the claims and cleaning go smoothly.
After a fire you probably have quite a few people calling and getting involved in the cleanup and insurance process. Generally it will include:
- Your insurance agent (the one who sold you the policy)
- Insurance adjuster/claims adjuster
- Mortgage company representative
- Restoration contractor
- Public officials who will inspect your home for safety
If you need assistance coordinating all these different groups, let us know and we will do what we can to help make sure your claims process and restoration work goes smoothly.
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Call AAA Restoration today to learn more about how we can help after your home or business suffers fire, smoke, or other damage.