Dealing with fire and smoke damage is not the foremost thing on your mind, but hundreds of homes across New Hampshire have to deal with this reality every year. Kitchen mishaps, oil furnace puff backs, electrical malfunctions, chimney backups, and pellet stove failures are but a few of the causes of such disasters. Fire damage, whether from forest fires, an accident, or just plain carelessness, is a serious matter. Once the fire is out, and everyone is safe, there are many matters to contend with; soot damage is not the least of them. For your safety and well-being, it’s important to recognize the unknown dangers of soot damage.
First we need to determine what soot is and what it looks like. Soot is the black, or at times, brownish-yellow residue that gathers in fire damaged areas. It is the effect of incomplete fossil fuel combustion. It results when coal, oil, wood or other fuels are burned. The particles of soot are nearly microscopic and can be carried through the ventilation system to areas of your home that were not close to the fire. Other than sight, you can also detect soot with your sense of smell. The ashy, smoky smell of soot is very recognizable.
Soot is very dangerous. Soot particles contain acids, chemicals, and metals from batteries, paints, flammable liquids, asbestos siding as well as pipe insulation; all toxic materials. These may contain arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, and hydrogen cyanide. They attach themselves to walls and ceilings endangering your home and causing severe health risks. Inhaling these particles can cause serious issues such as asthma, bronchitis and other serious respiratory problems, even stroke, heart attacks and cancer. Not only can soot cause health issues, it can seriously impact the environment. Heavy rains (acid rain) can transfer toxic chemicals to rivers and storm drains endangering the ecosystem.
While soot can be harmful to your health and the environment, it doesn’t stop there. It can also cause considerable damage to electronics. Even if your gadget seems untouched by the fire, it could still have been affected by soot as it can corrode metal components. Also, smoke can add to the damage because it contains metallic particles which can cause devices to short-circuit when operated. Always have electronic devices checked and cleaned after a fire whether they’re burned or not.
There’s not much you can do yourself after a fire. You will need adequate safety equipment and the knowledge to locate soot and smoke damage (which can linger for years if not properly addressed). For cleaning after a fire, hire a professional disaster restoration company. They know where to look and how to restore your home to its previous beauty. The highly trained professionals at Soil-Away Cleaning and Restoration are there for you 24/7. They have the equipment and the know-how to get you on your way. Call them at (603) 641-6555.
Written by E. Aceves