How to Remove Smoke Odor After Fire
Fires are unpredictable and devastating. The safety of the home or facility’s occupants is the first priority, but the damage can cost a homeowner or an organization significantly. Even if your home isn’t directly affected by a fire, it can still remove smoke odor damage from a nearby fire.
Before we can talk about how to get rid of it, let’s discuss the nature of the smell itself. Most smells will go away on their own, right? If you leave an old piece of fish in your fridge and you throw it out, that smell will be gone in a couple of days, so why does the smoke smell linger so strongly?
Well, if the structure of your house or commercial building remained intact after the fire and very little had to be replaced, then the smoke became trapped inside. It is likely stuck to the drywall, furniture and much of what survived the fire. Because of this, we should warn you that it is no easy task to get rid of the smell, as it is clinging to everything it can. However, it can be done.
So, if you are asking yourself the following questions, be sure to keep reading!
Can you get the fire smoke smell out of house? How to get rid of fire smoke smell? How to get fire smell out of house?
Assess the Smoke Damage
Fire can damage and destroy a building and its contents, but smoke and soot also poses a considerable risk. Soot is a particulate that can spread far from the source of origin and creates a residue and an odor. The materials burned during the fire has a direct effect on the ease or difficulty of a restoration effort. Wood and paper soot is not as greasy or oily as soot produced from the burning of plastic furniture, carpet or insulation. When plastics burn, they produce hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, hydro bromic and other reactive agents in varying amounts. Even a light acid exposure may cause corrosion. The higher the humidity, the more active the corrosive elements will be.
Smoke Odor Removal Factors
Restoration to fire damaged homes or commercial buildings and contents, including paper documents is possible. By removing burned materials and minimizing the humidity through dehumidification and careful decontamination, a facility can return to operation and minimize losses following a fire. Soot must either be removed or sealed in place to be rid of its odor. Most smoke odors will not simply “air out.” Further measures will need to be taken to remove or seal the soot particulate. Vapor barriers can be constructed out of heavy plastic sheeting to help seal off the burned area or to protect sensitive areas.
The approach that a professional fire damage restoration company will take to remove smoke odors will depend on several factors. In fact, over the past 75 years we have been in business, not one fire has been exactly the same, therefore the recovery process is always different. Factors that may impact the way that property owners may need to consider when dealing with smoke damage include:
- Type of soot
- Size of the fire damaged area
- Time delay after fire – The longer the damaged structure sits after a fire, the greater chance of secondary damage and further penetration of smoke particles into contents and the structure itself.
- Size of the fire – The larger the fire, the more smoke the fire produces.
- Types of materials damaged – Any odorous materials that burned in the fire, such as plastics, can make removing the smell tougher. Smoke gets easily absorbed by fabric such as drapes, furniture and carpeting so the process will include cleaning these materials and everything that was exposed to it.
Contents affected by fire, soot and smoke may be so heavily damaged that they require replacement. Test cleaning can confirm if an item is restorable, however, it must be cost effective to restore, as opposed to replacing. A common question that is asked is: “What’s the value of the piece?” Restoration of contents can be performed on-site or off-site.
Steps to Remove Smoke Odor
Smoke tends to stick around. Don’t wait to get rid of the smoke smell after a disaster strikes. Breathing in smoke can compromise the air quality in your home, creating a health hazard. Instead of living with the smell of the fire, air it out.
STEP 1: AIR OUT YOUR HOME
Smoke can linger in your home for a long while after the fire occurs. Even if you can’t see it, you can certainly smell it. When your home fills up with fire smoke, tiny, lingering particles stick to every surface. These smoke particles embed themselves in your furniture, carpeting, clothing and even paint. Surface cleaning alone won’t remove all of it. If you don’t act quickly to get rid of smoke smell from your home, you could end up breathing in those particles every day.
The first thing you need to do is air out your home. Open all the windows and doors to ventilate the smoky air. Feel free to remove the screens, too. This will promote better airflow, inviting the fresh air in and the bad air out. You can also improve airflow throughout your home by strategically placing fans in different rooms. Place the fans in corners, pointing towards a door or window. When you turn the fans on, they’ll “push” the fire smell out. A few fans and open doors won’t completely get rid of smoke smell, though.
You may also need to create positive pressure. First, set a large fan outside of your front door, facing inward. lose all the other doors and windows, so only the front door and one window remain open. This forces fresh air into the room and out the open window. Leave the fan on for about 15 minutes. Then, close the window and door in that room. Move into another room and repeat.
STEP 2: WASH IMPACT SURFACES
Improving the airflow throughout your home is only the first step to removing the smoke smell. Next, we need to consider your personal items and household surfaces. The smallest nooks and crannies are great places for smoke particles and ash to hide. To get rid of the smoke smell, you need to clean everything.
Start by removing furniture covers, cushions, duvets, blankets, area rugs and curtains. If you have any other fabric materials, have those washed or dry cleaned, too. Make sure to wash any clothes, towels and linens that were also exposed to the smoke. In the meantime, keep any clean fabric items out of your house until the smoke smell is gone. Otherwise, these clean fabrics could absorb the smell, too.
Next, create a solution of hot water and white vinegar to clean your windows. This includes your:
- Window frames
- Window sills
- Window screens
As you wash your window panes, make sure they’re shiny and transparent. Otherwise, there’s probably some smoke still lingering. Make sure to scrub your blinds so they’ll be thoroughly deep-cleaned. When you wash the window screens, place them in a tub or basin. Then, use dish soap or shampoo to clean the mesh. Rinse them with cool water and leave them to dry in the fresh air.
Using a warm water, white vinegar and dish soap solution, make sure to wipe down:
- Walls and ceilings
- Doors and doorframes
- Cabinets (inside and out)
- Light fixtures
- Light switches
Mop up your uncarpeted floors. Don’t forget to clean up your mop afterward, too. Otherwise, you’re leaving smoke particles that could end up right back on your floor.
Those little smoke particles are hiding away in your carpets, too. As you work to get rid of the smoke smell in your home, don’t forget the carpets and upholstery. Otherwise, you’re stirring smoke particles back into the air with every step. Sprinkle some baking soda onto the carpet and/or upholstery. Let it linger for a few hours, allowing the baking soda to absorb the smoke smell. Then, use a HEPA vacuum to suck it all up. Vacuums with a HEPA filter can prevent the smoke particles from blowing right back into the room. You can also consider professional steam cleaning. A professional can handle delicates such as silk carpets and leather upholstery. Handling these areas on your own might lead to unintentional damages.
STEP 3: CLEAN HVAC SYSTEMS AND AIR DUCTS
The HVAC system must be cleaned and deodorized because soot particles have been trapped by the filtration system. All registers and ductwork must be thoroughly examined and, if contamination exists, cleaned. A neutralizing agent is applied into the ductwork to eliminate odors and, if necessary, a Duct Sealer may be applied to seal in any residual odors.
STEP 4: DEEP CLEANING AND STRUCTURE CLEANING
Soot contamination on the structure can normally be restored by using the proper techniques in combination with the following:
- Rags and a heavy-duty degreasing chemical mixed with a deodorizing agent (for glossy surfaces)
- Professional carpet/drapery cleaning system
- Professional HVAC/Duct cleaning system
- Thermo-Fog and/or Ozone for deodorization
Bring in the Professionals
For 75 years, we have helped homeowners and business owners restore their property following a fire. Contact one of our locations today for immediate smoke odor removal services.