Last Updated November 6, 2023
Smoke damage restoration isn’t as simple as cleaning or repainting burned items. Damage caused by smoke poses health risks that necessitate skilled restoration. Restoring a property with smoke damage requires certification and training to be completed appropriately.
- The Impact of Smoke Damage
- Common Types of Smoke Damage
- Smoke Damage Effects on Health
- Toxic Chemicals Released During a Fire
- Smoke Damage and Water Remediation
Smoke damage can be quite extensive as it extends beyond fire damage. Damage caused by smoke occurs before and after the physical fire. Smoke can make its way into ductwork and even through electrical sockets to the areas behind walls.
Smoke is comprised of carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and soot. These acidic compounds erode metals and break down the compounds that make up paint, furnishings, and walls, negatively affecting your health.
There are five common types of smoke damage. Different types of smoke damage may occur depending on the fuel, temperature, and location of the fire. The restoration process will vary depending on the type of smoke damage incurred.
Complex Fire Smoke Damage
Complex fire smoke damage is the result of multiple fuel sources. These sources are typically a mix of natural and synthetic materials, such as those found in kitchens and garage spaces. This type of smoke damage appears as a greasy yellow residue that covers surfaces and has a synthetic or plastic smell.
The restoration process used to mitigate complex fire damage is known as emergency corrosion mitigation and is essential to protecting at-risk surfaces.
Dry Smoke Damage
Dry smoke damage results from high-temperature fires, usually fueled by wood or paper products. Most commonly, these fires occur outside, where trees and shrubs are burned, and the dry smoke penetrates nearby structures and buildings, leaving behind powdery ash.
This ash is typically easy to wipe away, but even when the surfaces look clean, they can emit a strong smoky odor. Remediation company services are needed to resolve smoke odor damage, as it’s not something you can accomplish easily without training.
Fuel And Oil Smoke Damage
Fuel and oil smoke damage, sometimes referred to as petroleum residue, results from petroleum-fueled fires. Petroleum isn’t prevalent today but can still be found in older heating appliances or oil-fueled furnaces.
If the oil-fueled furnace doesn’t ignite correctly, it can result in a small leak or a minor explosion that releases smoke or soot throughout the home or property. Fuel smoke residue is sticky to the touch and very tricky to clean. It has a strong scent and can easily ruin furnishings if not cleaned immediately.
Protein Smoke Damage
Protein smoke damage usually occurs due to a low-temperature fire created by burning organic matter, such as food. When a kitchen or grill fire happens, protein smoke can leave behind strong odors that spread across your home or patio.
The residue from protein smoke can discolor paint, siding, varnishes, and other finished surfaces, such as countertops.
Wet Smoke Damage
Wet smoke damage results from low-heat fires that smolder for a long enough time for the wet fuel source to catch fire. The fuel in these fires usually consists of plastic or rubber and can produce thick, black smoke that leaves a sticky and dense residue. This residue is very challenging to clean without specialized tools.
After a fire, smoke damage leaves behind chemicals that can contaminate the building or materials involved in the fire. If a property isn’t properly cleaned, these materials can become toxic to inhabitants in the surrounding area.
Some immediate smoke-related health risks include:
- Breathing and upper respiratory conditions, including asthma and bronchitis.
- Skin and eye redness, irritation, dryness, or itching.
Long-term health conditions that can result from smoke damage include:
- Heart attacks
- And lifelong organ damage in infants
Smoke restoration mitigates health risks by removing chemical and structural hazards that can cause serious bodily harm. Smoke damage will not go away on its own and will remain until adequately cleaned up by a professional remediation team.
Smoke damage is difficult to remove from materials that have been in or around a fire. Burnt materials can pose health risks after a fire. Damaged building materials release toxins when burned, contaminating the surrounding areas.
The two biggest sources of toxic chemicals present after a fire include:
1. PVC (polyvinyl chloride):
PVC is one of the most produced plastics. It’s used in flooring, newer plumbing, siding, and roofing materials. When burnt, PVC releases harmful chemicals such as:
- Hydrogen chloride
2. Carbon Materials:
This abundant element is found in common building materials like wood, brick, and drywall, as well as common household items like clothing, furniture, and plastics. When carbon materials catch fire, they can emit several chemicals that can be detrimental to health, including:
- Carbon monoxide
- Nitrogen oxide
In addition to smoke damage, water damage is likely to occur because of firefighting efforts. Because of this, water damage remediation is also required during the smoke-cleaning process. Water damage remediation consists of securing the property, removing all excess water, starting contents pack out, and applying rapid structural drying. Once these steps have been taken, mold remediation and reconstruction can be started.
Finding Help to Recover From Smoke and Fire Damage
IICRC-certified professionals should always perform fire restoration. These standards ensure the safety of your property and your people. Fires and the smoke damage they cause can be costly. No matter the cause, solutions are available.
After you call, your local Rainbow Restoration® team will be there as quickly as possible to restore your property and keep you and your family safe—or get your business back on its feet. With our 24/7 emergency services, you won’t have to wait long to recover from a fire.