Fire & Smoke Damage
After fire damage, it is natural to want to clean a building and its contents. Timely action can be a great help, but incorrect or delayed action can jeopardize or seriously impede satisfactory restoration.
- Clean and protect chrome trim on kitchen appliances with a light coating of Vaseline or other oil.
- Blow off or brush–vacuum loose smoke particles from upholstery, drapery and carpet.
- Open windows for ventilation.
- Change furnace filter if blower is operating.
- Empty freezer and refrigerator completely if electricity is off, and prop door open with a rolled towel or newspaper.
- Clean and protect smoked bathroom faucets, tub fittings and towel bars with a light coating of oil.
- Pour antifreeze in toilet bowls, sinks, and tubs to prevent freezing if heat is off in winter.
- Wash plants with water on both sides of leaves (water softener helps).
- Call plumber to drain heating system if heat is off in winter.
- Remove pets (especially birds) to clean environment.
- Boardup outside to prevent further damage to the home.
- Wipe or attempt to wash walls, ceilings or other absorbent surfaces.
- Use upholstered furniture if it can be avoided.
- Use exposed food items, or canned goods, which have been subjected to excessive heat.
- Use TVs, stereos, or electrical appliances until cleaned and checked.
- Send smoked garments to an ordinary dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set smoke and odor.
Water is an essential part of many cleaning processes, but under some circumstances, it can damage articles. The harmful effect of water is sharply reduced by prompt and wise action. Some procedures are obvious; others require foresight and experience. This list of Emergency Tips has been compiled from many years of experience in water damage repair and cleaning.
- Remove as much water as possible by mopping and blotting.
- Wipe water from wood furniture after removal of lamps and tabletop items.
- Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying (check for possible bleeding).
- Place aluminum foil, china saucers or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
- Turn your furnace to ‘vent’ so that it runs continuously for maximum drying and open windows when temperatures are above freezing.
- Open drawers and cabinet doors for complete drying (do not force, however.)
- Remove valuable oil paintings and art objects to a safe place.
- Blot wet carpeting with clean white towels.
- Open suitcases and luggage to dry, in sunlight if possible.
- Punch small holes in sagging ceilings to relieve trapped water (don’t forget to place pans beneath!)
- Leave wet fabrics in place; dry as soon as possible. Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
- Leave books, magazines or other colored items on wet carpets or floors.
- Use your household vacuum to remove water.
- Use TVs or other appliances while standing on wet carpet or floors, especially not on wet concrete floors.
- Turn on ceiling fixtures if ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging from retained water.
Water Damage Prevention
- Know how to turn off the main water shut-off valves in the home. Most water valves are easy to find- under the sink, in the laundry room, behind the toilet, in the garage, or next to the water meter.
- Disconnect hoses from outside hose bibs before winter arrives or the first freeze to prevent frozen pipes.
- Check and replace washing machine hoses and other water connections on a regular basis.
Soot (Furnace) Damage
Although smoke and soot may seem to be identical, experienced professionals recognize the important differences and appropriate emergency action can help in restoring walls and furnishings damaged by soot. Wrong action can make restoration more difficult and could greatly delay your recovery. These Emergency Tips can increase the chances for prompt and successful restoration.
- Change furnace filter.
- Cover upholstery with clean sheets before use.
- Tape doubled pieces of cheesecloth over air registers with masking tape.
- Blow off or brush–vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes and carpeting.
- Attempt to clean walls or ceilings.
- Use do–it–yourself, home carpet or upholstery cleaners.
While timely action can minimize or prevent lasting damage due to vandalism, it is just as true that wrong or delayed action can increase it; sometimes beyond hope of repair. Emergency Tips listed below will minimize the effects of the damage, and make the eventual repair more successful.
- Hose down or wash egg damage from building exterior as soon as possible.
- Wipe up freshly spilled food from carpets and fabrics with a dampened cloth or sponge (but don’t over–wet). Do scrape and blot (don’t rub; it may cause fuzzing or damage fibers.)
- Vacuum glass particles from carpets and upholstery.
- Save containers, which will reveal the composition of spilled inks, cosmetics and paints.
- Attempt to remove ink, paint or cosmetic stains from carpet or you will set it permanently.
Mold Prevention Tips:
- Fix leaky plumbing and leaks in the building envelope as soon as possible.
- Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix source(s) of moisture problem(s) as soon as possible.
- Prevent moisture due to condensation by increasing surface temperature or reducing the moisture level in air (humidity). To increase surface temperature, insulate or increase air circulation. To reduce the moisture level in air, repair leaks, increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
- Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
- Vent moisture–generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside when possible.
- Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60% relative humidity (RH), ideally 30%–50%, if possible.
- Perform regular building/HVAC inspections and maintenance as scheduled.
- Clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours.
- Don’t let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage and slope the ground away from the foundation.