Many homeowners and small business owners may be tempted to clean up smoke damage themselves, but this can prove to be a costly mistake. In fact, two of the most common mistakes non-professionals make is wetting the carpet or upholstery too much and using too much shampoo. While you can rent some equipment and give it a go, if you do not know the best methods for removing smoke and soot, you may end up damaging the items further or worse yet, ruin them and have to replace them. Moreover, missed smoke and ash during the cleaning process will cause extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration over time, not to mention strong lingering odors. Plastic items generally discolor within minutes after a fire. Items made from fiberglass appliance finishes will begin to yellow within hours. Metals can tarnish, and if left untreated too long, ash will cause fabrics and interior walls to permanently become discolored.
It makes better fiscal sense to hire a professional restoration service to carefully remove the tough stuff like black soot from carpet, drapes, and upholstery, among other things – and you should hire one quickly. A careful assessment of the damage must be taken; including any potential safety concerns, for most damage is overlooked by the naked eye. Understanding the type of residue left from a fire is an important first step. Whether it is wet smoke, dry smoke, or fuel oil soot, or fire extinguisher residue, technicians who have been certified by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification process know best how to get the job done and with the best results.
For example, soot is an oil-based substance that should be removed quickly in order to avoid dirt’s magnetic-like attraction to it. However, because it is oil-based, it must also be extracted carefully so that it is not driven deeper into fabrics and carpeting. This usually requires special equipment like powerful vacuums, wet cleaning tools, rotary scrubbers, and special extractors which inject steam into fabrics and carpeting, allowing for a deeper level of suction with minimal or no detergent residue. When it comes to furniture, having the proper tools to separate the feet from the newly cleaned carpet is also important in order to protect wood stain from bleeding into the carpet while it dries. Professional restoration services will also use industry-standard equipment like ozone machines, dehumidifiers, air movers and air scrubbers to address air quality issues as well.
Another important reason to hire a certified restoration service is to facilitate the claims process with your insurance adjuster. Unfortunately, adjusters will often recommend items like carpet, upholstered furniture and drapes be replaced with it comes to smoke damage. A certified IICRC technician, on the other hand, can explain what items can be salvaged and restored if proper cleaning materials and techniques are applied. This can reduce the claim loss and allow the majority, if not all the expenses to be covered per the specifications of your insurance policy.
Considering potential unseen safety issues and all the technical know-how required in identifying the type of smoke damage and how to clean it properly, in the end, you will get more bang for your buck hiring a professional right out of the gate. In a smoke damage situation, the American determination to roll up your sleeves and get the job done does not mean doing it yourself – it means calling a certified, professional restoration service to get the job done right the first time.