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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Should You Clean Up After A Fire By Yourself?

1/5/2021 (Permalink)

soot damage on walls after small kitchen fire Is it a good idea to clean up after a small fire by yourself? The answer may surprise you.

Here’s the scenario: You’re making dinner on the stove, but your child calls for you from the backyard. Making sure they’re okay, you leave the food cooking on the stove unattended and go outside. Distracted, you don’t remember the stove is still on until you smell burning food. Running into the home, you cover the pan, turn off the heat, and put the kitchen fire out yourself. 

Although you didn’t have to call the fire department, the entire downstairs of your home is still covered in black soot and smoke stains from your small kitchen fire. Wanting to return your home to normal as soon as possible, you start cleaning yourself - But should you? 

Why Shouldn’t You Clean Up After A Fire Yourself?

Homeowners shouldn’t try and clean up after a fire themselves because without the proper knowledge, they can actually make the damages worse.

Most homeowners aren’t aware of everything that needs to be done to completely rid your home of soot, smoke, and fire odors. If you perform cleanup yourself, you may find it increases costs down the line when you call in professionals to finish the work you can’t complete on your own. 

How Can You Make Fire Damage Worse By Cleaning Up Yourself?

  • Further embedding soot particles. When not using the correct cleaning materials to remove soot from walls, floors, ceilings, or your belongings, you can actually end up forcing soot particles further into your property. Using a wet rag will only smear soot across your walls rather than removing it. Fire cleanup services use specialized rags, sponges, and chemicals to actually remove soot particles and stains.
  • Inability to clean all damages. If you’re not experienced in after-fire cleanup, you may not reach every area that was actually affected by the fire. In many cases, there may be soot lingering in areas which appear undamaged. If you have an HVAC system, you will also be unable to clean the soot and smoke particles that made their way into the vents. Then, when the system turns on these particles will be spread around your home, possibly to places that were previously unaffected. 
  • Disregarding odor removal. Even after a small fire, a heavy smell will be left behind in your home that is a challenge to remove. This smell will not go away until everything is completely and properly cleaned, and sometimes will still linger after that. Professional companies use UV fogging and ozone machines to fully remove smoke odors from your home. This equipment is expensive and not available to the typical homeowner.
  • Increasing recovery costs. When you aren’t trained in fire damage restoration, you may throw away items that could have been salvaged by a restoration company with the proper knowledge and materials. Professionals will do all they can to restore items before deeming them non-salvageable. You may end up throwing out clothes or upholstery that otherwise would have been saved using the right process, driving up your recovery costs after a fire. 

When you have a fire in your home, the best course of action is to file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance company and get in contact with a trustworthy fire damage restoration company. This way you can be sure that your home is completely free of all smoke, soot, and odors that will not cause more damage in the future. 

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