The flames are finally extinguished. You’re so grateful that everyone is safe, but now you’re facing the aftermath of a house fire. Even a small blaze in the kitchen can cause extensive smoke and soot damage throughout your home.
How much cleanup can you take care of? How much should you leave to a professional fire restoration contractor?
We’re often asked these questions when homeowners reach out to us after a house fire. We offer these fire damage restoration cleanup tips that can make things a little easier.
Fire Damage Restoration Clean Up Tips
It’s very important to understand the potential dangers in your home after a fire. The structure may look sound, but wait for the all clear from firefighters before going back inside. Don’t attempt any fire damage cleanup until the house has been inspected by a licensed electrician.
Once you’re sure everything is safe, start the cleanup process by following these seven tips.
1. Document Damages First
Document all the damages to your home and belongings by taking pictures. Do this before you begin cleaning. Be sure to include things that will eventually be thrown away. Make the photos part of an inventory that supports filing your homeowners fire insurance claim.
2. Open Up the House
Open as many doors and windows as possible even in rooms that weren’t affected by the fire. As fresh air circulates through the house, smoke odors begin to dissipate. This doesn’t completely clear interiors, but it’s a start to restoring fresher, healthier indoor air quality.
Power Tip: If the weather outside is hot or damp, don’t open up the house. Otherwise, high temperatures and humid conditions outside work against efforts to ventilate the indoors.
3. Get the HVAC System Ready
Replace all the HVAC filters in your home with high quality HEPA filters. Tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers. Don’t plan on running the system during cleanup. Your goal is to keep it from accumulating any more airborne debris and particles like mold spores and soot.
Power Tip: Before you finally turn the system back on, call in a licensed HVAC technician to inspect the unit. Also, have the ductwork decontaminated by a certified cleaning contractor.
4. Move and Cover
Soot and smoke cleanup is a messy, sticky process, so secure furnishings and belongings before you get started. Move unaffected items as far as possible from areas that need cleaning. Use plastic sheeting or old linens to cover things you can’t move. Protect table and chair legs with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
5. Clean Carefully and Safely
Even if you only plan on initial cleaning before professionals are on the scene, be very careful. Whether you do a little or take on the entire project, closely follow our DIY smoke damage cleanup guidelines. Wear proper personal safety gear that minimizes your exposure to dangerous soot particles.
Power Tip: Don’t underestimate the size of a home fire cleanup job. If you have any doubts about doing it yourself, leave the work to house fire damage restoration professionals.
6. Know Your Furniture
Different upholsteries and frame materials require different types of cleanup after a fire. It’s important to use the right products especially when cleaning leather. If you’re not sure about furniture fabrics, check tags attached to cushion backs or the bottom of frame dust covers.
7. Get Inside Kitchen Fire Cleanup
Cleaning up after a kitchen fire requires careful steps to remove soot and smoke damage, but you also have to clean inside areas like pantries, drawers and cabinets. Smoke and high temperatures from a kitchen fire ruin packaged and canned food, so be prepared to throw everything away.
Always Be Cautious
Cleaning up after a house fire exposes you to a number of personal safety hazards. Unsound structural materials, compromised utility lines and soot and smoke damage create a dangerous environment inside your home.
We ask that you always be cautious. If cleanup seems like more than you want to handle, don’t take any chances. Leave the job to professional fire restoration technicians who know how to keep you and your property safe during the fire damage restoration process.
Seek Help From Restoration Professionals
When you face the immediate aftermath of a house fire, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Still, you want to take control and get things back to normal as quickly as possible. If you’re in the Chicago area, we’re here to help.
Our full line of home fire damage restoration services includes specialized cleaning techniques that speed up fire cleanup and property recovery. We’re standing by 24/7, so give us a call. With ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, help is just around the corner.