If you or a loved one lost their home to the Thomas Fire, the team here at H.W Holmes, Inc. understands what a surreal and difficult time this must be. Our hearts are with everyone affected by what’s now the largest of California wildfires. Today, we offer some fire damage restoration tips for those who haven’t experienced a catastrophic total loss. Remember, you should never attempt to remediate your property yourself after a fire. Only a professional has the necessary experience to carry out proper fire restoration processes to make your home safe again. The purpose of this post is to familiarize you with the processes used by professionals when rebuilding or repairing after fire damage. This IS NOT a How To Guide.
Make Sure Property Is Stabilized & Safe To Enter
You should always wait for an inspector to confirm your property is safe before reentering it. A remediation specialist will carefully look at the structure’s exterior and interior to confirm whether or not it’s safe to enter and begin the restoration/reconstruction process.
Take Steps to Minimize Damage
Even after a fire has been extinguished, smoke and soot can continue to damage your property.
Soot in the air will adhere itself to your walls, furniture, and belongings. This causes a discoloration known as soot staining. This discoloration can either be permanent or completely removable. It all depends on the type of material affected and how much time has elapsed. Carpeting, textiles, plastics, metals, wood, and grout are especially vulnerable. A professional will need to assess the discoloration and properly clean the materials to determine what’s salvageable and what isn’t.
Fire extinguishing during a wildfire can also attribute to potential mold and mildew issues. Any suspected water damage will usually require mold and mildew remediation to minimize further damage.
Rust and corrosion will occur when metals become oxidized. This is especially damaging to small electronics with metal components and conductors. These devices are usually irreparable if damaged by corrosion. There’s also a higher risk of electrical shock.
Smoke damage contributes to poor indoor air quality. Air scrubbers and movers are useful for cleaning the air after a fire. Any smoke damaged surfaces or furniture might be salvageable with cleaning products and immediate restoration processes.
Soot & Debris Removal
All soot and debris must be removed from a home before fire damage restoration can begin. As previously mentioned, soot is going to cause more damage the longer it lingers and adheres itself to surfaces. Debris is obstructive and a safety concern during restoration. Soot remnants can be vacuumed, swept up, or wiped down. The removal of soot and debris will also improve indoor air quality and reduce any noticeable odors.
Remove All Possessions From Home
Any possessions deemed too damaged for repair or restoration need to be thrown out. Extra caution must be taken when removing electrical appliances or machines from the home. These can still store electricity despite being unplugged.
Even items that are salvageable should be removed from the home to prevent further damage during restoration and reconstruction work. This way, you can also have a professional clean these items for re-entry into the home once it’s restored.
Remove Excess Water & Dry Wet Surfaces
Standing water needs to be eliminated right way. Air movers and dehumidifiers will often be needed to ensure everything is properly dried out since excess water can soak into walls, flooring, and even subflooring.