Smoke and Fire Damage Restoration Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve suffered a fire in your home or business, you probably have a lot of questions. We’ve answered some of the most common questions about fire damage and its restoration below.
Not all fires result in the same level of damage. The extent of fire damage varies greatly depending on a number of factors, including:
- The source of the fire.
- How hot the fire got, and the amount of smoke created.
- How long the fire raged before intervention or firefighters stopped it.
- The amount of water or substance needed to extinguish the fire.
The severity of the fire situation greatly impacts the extent of damage. This can range from minor smoke and soot contained to just a portion of the home, to extensive structural damage that must be rebuilt. Once your home or business is deemed safe for entry, SERVPRO technicians will inspect and assess the level of damage to help determine the plan of action. We will categorize your fire damage upon inspection into one of three categories.
- Minor Fire Damage – Light to moderate smoke and soot was contained to just a portion of the building. Restoration needs include dry or wet cleaning and deodorization to walls, ceiling, floor and personal property, with little or no repainting. Very few items need replaced.
- Medium Fire Damage – Moderate smoke and soot requiring more aggressive cleaning and deodorization techniques to remove residue. More areas need repainting. Heat has caused more extensive damage to surfaces and materials which may require more items to need repair or replacement.
- Major Fire Damage – Severe fire damage to contents, finished surfaces and even structural framing. Smoke has infiltrated the majority of the building, and emergency intervention like board-up of windows and doors, or roof tarping, is required right away. Personal property items will likely need to be moved out of the structure for cleaning off-site. All remaining surfaces will be cleaned and deodorized in preparation for painting and repairs.
Surprisingly, many items subjected to heat, smoke, and soot can be cleaned and restored to their original state. SERVPRO team members are specially trained in methods that effectively remove extensive smoke and soot residues. Depending on the severity, we may move some items off-site to ensure a thorough cleaning and restoration in our state-of-the-art facilities. SERVPRO also staffs and maintains close relationships with industry experts who specialize in electronics restoration, dry cleaning of delicate fabrics, furniture repair and refinishing, artwork, and document restoration. However, know that some items burned by direct flame may not be salvageable.
There are five different services involved when a home or business is damaged by fire. Our technicians are specially trained to handle this complex process that aims to get you back in your property as soon as possible.
- Mitigation – We’ll secure your property to prevent further damage. Any openings to the home will be boarded up, bulk debris removed, and corrosion mitigation begun in order to increase the likelihood of restoration of sensitive surfaces. If water damage from firefighting efforts has occurred, we’ll work to remove water and begin the drying process.
- Structural Cleaning and Damaged Material Removal – Non-salvageable surfaces and materials will be carefully removed and disposed. Smoke residues will be removed from salvageable walls, ceilings, and structural components of the property.
- Contents Cleaning – Your personal property will receive expert focus, with cleaning taking place right there or off-site, depending on the situation.
- Specialty Restoration Services – If there is anything that requires special attention (electronics, art, furniture refinishing), we’ll ensure a specialist is tasked to complete the work.
- Reconstruction – Sometimes, we have to build back areas that were too damaged to restore.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover fire damage, including repairs to your home and its contents through dwelling and personal property coverage. You should also check your policy for personal liability or personal umbrella insurance, which may help cover a situation where a fire in your home spread to a neighboring residence.
SERVPRO will work closely with you and your insurance company to navigate through the claims process, helping to take the stress away from you as a property owner in this situation.
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that cooking, followed by heating, are the top two leading causes of home fires. You can help prevent fire damage by:
- Installing smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside bedrooms.
- Staying in the kitchen when cooking, or by the grill when grilling.
- Turning oven burners off and making sure the stove area is clear of other materials.
- Keeping anything that can burn at least three feet away from fireplaces, heaters, etc.
- Unplug or turn heaters off when you’re not in the room.
- Have heating systems and chimneys inspected regularly.
Because of this phenomenon, you should never build a fire pit using concrete materials as it could be incredibly dangerous.