Fire itself doesn’t smell. It’s smoke that smells. Long exposure to smoke is bad for not just you but for your house as well. No matter the smoke comes from wildfire, accidental house fire or cigarette, it can do a significant amount of damage to its surroundings.
The severity of fire and smoke that makes it into the house decides the type and amount of damage. Smoke makes invisible damage to interiors of a house, which you may have to consider rebuilding. However, if the smoke clears up quickly, you might be able to do some cleaning and restoration on your own.
Let’s have a look at how smoke damages your home.
What is Smoke Made of?
We all know what smoke looks like and where it comes from. But do you know what is really inside the smoke?
Whether natural or manmade, any type of fire smoke is a combination of tiny microscopic particles and chemicals produced from the incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. Aside from carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and soot, smoke can contain hazardous chemicals like sulfur dioxide, benzene, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, acid gases, metals and many other compounds.
Not all smoke contains the same amount of chemicals though. The type and amount of chemicals in smoke varies according to the material, amount of oxygen, and burn temperature.
It is important to be aware of the range of chemical species likely to be present in fire, with a negative effect on your home and environment as well as posing a serious hazard to health.
What Smoke Does to Your House?
Although you can’t see the smoke damage, it can cause as much damage as fire itself. Typically, it is corrosive and can seep into materials, leaving behind a thin layer and odor that can penetrate throughout the building. The acidic nature of the layer causes discoloration, corrosion, and overall damage.
In most situations, you’ll notice discoloration of walls, ash or soot on the floor, and there will likely be an unpleasant odor in the air.
Also Read: How to Prevent Electrical Fires in Homes
After a fire break-out, it will take a couple of days to show up the real impacts of smoke damage. The walls, flooring, and ceiling will turn yellow. But anything made from metal will show signs of discoloration in just a few hours.
Porous materials like plaster, paint, wallpaper, and exposed wood are more vulnerable to smoke damage. They can get permanent discoloration due to acidic residues in soot.
What’s really dangerous about smoke damage is what you are not able to see. It can penetrate walls and compromise the structure and framing, insulation, electrical wiring and ventilation system of your house.
Smoke also leaves behind a lingering smell that is not only harmful to your health but also to furnishings and home interior. Most often, the smell stays for a long as it seeps into fabrics, carpets, furniture, and even saturate the wood. In such cases, you’ll most likely need professional fire damage restoration to ensure smoke and all the particles are cleaned up thoroughly.
Can Smoke be Removed?
When it comes to limiting smoke or fire damage, quick action is very important. You need to assess the severity of damage so that you can decide if you can remove it by yourself or need professional help.
If doing it on your own, it is recommended to pump as much fresh air as possible inside the house in order to prevent buildup of residual smoke and odor. Open up as many windows as possible, and set up fans to increase the air flow. You will have to remove soot stains on walls with a vacuum cleaner or a dry chemical sponge.
The whole house needs to be inspected and cleaned thoroughly. You need to get rid of all the soot that comes from a fire, or you will have a lingering smoke smell. From walls and ceiling to furniture and light fixtures, give everything a good wipe down with a dry cleaning sponge. Also, you need to wash anything that is washable like bedding, clothing, and curtains.