Dealing with a fire in the home is a terrible feeling. A fire can destroy our belongings, personal heirlooms, and also the structure. Unfortunately, sometimes this happens and it is out of our control as we did not see any of the signs.
Other times, it comes from an outside source and unavoidable. If you are able to salvage your home, that is great! However, you will need to get the smoke damage out of the home so the family can live there again safely.
How do you clean smoke damage in the home? Ventilate the home, change the filters, clean the kitchen, and clean garments, walls, furniture, and the attic area.
If water has been sprayed on the walls, you will also need to look for the growth of mold. Taking into consideration potential health issues and when to contact a professional are also important.
What to Do After a Fire in the Home
1. Ventilate the Home to Get the Smoke Damage Out
Ventilating the home involves opening up the windows to the house and setting up fans to send the polluted air out of the home. This will keep the air flowing. However, if there are rooms that were not affected by the fire, keep those doors closed to keep the soot out.
2. Change the Filters in the Home to Get Rid of Smoke Damage
Changing the air filter in the air conditioning unit is important after a fire. The filter needs to be clean in order to circulate the air better and cleaner. In addition, this is a good time to do maintenance on the entire unit such as cleaning the condenser and cleaning the condensation line. You never know what kind of damage you have after the fire is gone but the smoke is left.
3. Clean the Kitchen
Was there a fire in the kitchen? If yes, cleaning the counters and cabinets with dish detergent will help get the soot off and the smell. Then, rinse the cabinets with bleach and water – twice. This should get rid of the soot and smoke smell.
4. Cleaning Garments to Get the Smoke Damage Out
This can be difficult, depending on the clothing material, but can be done. One way is through dry cleaning. Another way is washing clothes in cold water with your usual household laundry detergent and add one tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.
5. Walls and Furniture Will Have Smoke Damage
When trying to get smoke damage off of walls and furniture, use a mild soap or detergent and wear rubber gloves to clean the surfaces, working from the floor up to the ceiling to avoid streaking. Be sure to rinse surfaces with clear warm water and dry thoroughly.
If you notice that the walls are wet from water from the fire, or the drywall looks damaged, it may be a good idea to order a home inspection to see if there are pipes that may have broken or leaks anywhere in the walls.
Our home inspectors use thermal imaging to see in the walls and what is going on in hidden areas. Also, make sure all the walls dry so mold cannot form. However, if while cleaning you find mold, put on a mask, gloves, and mix ½ white distilled vinegar and ½ baking soda together. Then use a scrub brush and brush the mold that is on the floor, carpet, walls, etc.
Getting rid of the mold is essential as it can spread but also cause health issues in many such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Itching of the eyes, nose, and throat- irritation from the soot and smoke
- Watery eyes- can linger after the fire from soot and smoke damage
- Skin problems- these occur because of the soot and dry air
Have furniture that has damage due to a fire? Use the concoction listed above and test in an inconspicuous place so you can see if there is an issue. Is the furniture made of wood? Here is an idea on how to clean it:
6. Attic Area of the Home
Use of an Attic Fan
Checking in the attic area of the house after a fire is a good idea if you feel safe doing that. If not, talk to a professional. In southern climates, an attic fan can help in a home by pushing the hot air out. This can help with cleaning up the smoke damage air in the home as well.
While checking out the attic, it may be a good time to see if your recessed lights are IC rated and that there is enough insulation. This will help protect the home in the future. If some of the insulation is gone, this is a great time to replace it or call a professional.
When to Call a Professional
After a fire, you want to also make sure that the home is structurally sound and the house is habitable. To do this, you will need a home inspector to check for safety hazards, the electrical system etc.
Most people don’t know how to do this so a professional can help. A professional can also help with getting the soot and smell out of the home if the ideas above don’t work or you find it to be cumbersome.
You have already been through a lot with the fire in your home so don’t be afraid to reach out for help. First, make sure you have contacted the Red Cross if you need anything, and second, contact us if you have questions or leave a reply below so we can help.