Where a fire has raged, smoke damage is the inevitable outcome. Microscopic smoke particles can lead to major destruction in the goods they affect. Different types of smoke damage exist and contribute to long-lasting physical ruin. Plus, all types of smoke damage cause a range of health hazards.
What is smoke?
Smoke particles are miniscule and composed of solid, liquid and gas. Smoke can contain a variety of chemicals and fumes. However, the smoke that is visible during or after the course of a fire is mostly made up of soot, tar, ash and oils.
Incomplete combustion, which occurs when insufficient amounts of oxygen fail to fully burn the fuel, results in smoke. Not everything burns during incomplete combustion. Although the miniscule, unburned particles are too small to see, they become visible as smoke when they come together.
Why is smoke hazardous?
Smoke inhalation can be fatal. Most victims of indoor fires succumb to death due to smoke inhalation – rather than the fire itself. Inhaling the smoke transports the particles into the lungs, and lung damage is the outcome. Older adults and young children are most vulnerable to ill health.
Breathing in smoke particles leads to coughing, scratchy throat, wheezing and a runny nose. Exposure to smoke particles can cause stinging eyes. Some individuals who inhale smoke experience chest pain, a fast heartbeat and headaches. Asthma attacks can be triggered by inhaling smoke.
Skin irritation is another outcome of smoke exposure. The airborne smoke particles travel through the property and become embedded in clothing and linens. Wearing clothes affected by smoke damage or sleeping in smoke-covered bedding can result in skin irritation long after the fire is extinguished.
Smoke particles can be doubly toxic, depending on the contents burned. A fire that occurs in a house filled with plastics will emit both soot and poisonous gases, like carbon monoxide and hydrogen chloride. The flammable compounds in smoke can be ignited through open flames.
What are the four types of smoke damage?
In general, smoke is harmful to human and pet health. Smoke damage, however, can be categorized into four types. Each of these four types of smoke damage is caused by different scenarios, such as the type of fuel burned, location and temperature of the flames.
Dry Smoke Damage
High-temperature fires fueled by burning fire or wood results in dry smoke damage. Fast-burning fires create dry smoke particles, featuring a powdery texture. The dry nature of this type of smoke particle makes it easy to clean, especially in comparison to dense smoke residue.
Dry smoke releases particles that fall into crevices and porous goods. Although the fire damaged surfaces are cleaned, noxious smoke odors can remain. This is due to the smoke particles having meandered into the cracks in the property. Dry smoke odors can be eliminated readily, though.
Protein Smoke Damage
Cooking fires are a major cause of protein residues. Soot from protein smoke is difficult to see by an untrained eye. Due to its stealthy characteristics, protein smoke is hard to clean. When allowed to linger long enough, protein smoke will discolor or damage furniture and surfaces.
Smells that emanate from protein smoke are extremely foul. Porous surfaces, clothing and carpets absorb the fine particles released from protein smoke. Specialized, professional cleaning tactics are necessary to eliminate the odors. While protein smoke often goes unseen, it is definitely smelled.
Petroleum Smoke Damage
Petroleum smoke is the outcome of burning oil or oil-based substances. Also referred to as fuel or oil residue, petroleum smoke damage is less common in fires affecting residential homes and commercial businesses—unless petroleum products are stored in these areas.
The residue left by petroleum smoke is sticky and dense. These attributes make the smoke a major challenge to successfully clean. A lack of immediate and proper cleaning will leave upholstered furniture damaged. Odors from petroleum smoke are also offensive and intense.
Wet Smoke Damage
Like petroleum smoke, wet smoke is extremely difficult to clean. Burning plastic and rubber produces wet smoke, and low-heat, smoldering fires result in wet smoke residue. While the flames from wet smoke are minimal, the resulting smoke is especially thick and black.
The odors produced by wet smoke are strong, too. The stickiness of wet smoke damage makes it hard to eliminate. The residue simply smears during the cleaning process. The challenge of cleaning wet smoke residue is made easier when professional equipment is utilized.
Smoke Damage Cleanup
Smoke damage should be cleaned up promptly, either through cleaning, resurfacing or replacing the affected materials. Without professional attention, the four abovementioned types of smoke damage will permeate the property and become contributors to ill health and long-lasting structural damage.
If your home or business is engulfed by fire, extinguish the flames and call ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning for immediate smoke damage restoration. While fire damage can lead to evident structural instability, smoke damage continues to furtively destroy materials long after the fire is put out.
ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning technicians will arrive onsite and begin the restoration process. Our skilled specialists stabilize and repair the fire damaged property as a first step. Cleaning the soot and smoke residue from affected surfaces is handled efficiently and quickly.
Experienced crews from ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning utilize advanced chemical cleaners that fully remove soot and smoke from a variety of household surfaces. Smoke damage to personal belongings may be successfully treated via our content cleaning and pack out services.
Smoke odors that linger after the fire has been extinguished can make the smoke damaged environment uninhabitable. Our technicians eliminate all smoke odors, including those that have become absorbed in furnishings, building materials and air spaces, using professional deodorization methods.
When fire strikes, home and business owners are urged to seek professional assistance fast. Choose ServiceMaster Restoration and Cleaning for high quality, professional smoke damage cleanup. Our technicians are available to respond to emergencies in Houston, Texas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.