Restoring and Preventing Smoke Damage from Wildfires in Denver
The wildfire season in Denver is disastrous and highly damaging. By summer’s end, at least 12 wildfires had torn through the state, leaving a wake of smoke damage, and reducing air quality. Fortunately, smoke damage from wildfires can be prevented and affected goods can be restored.
The Cameron Peak Fire had left Denver, a city miles away, in a haze of smoke. Amidst the smog and ash, Denver residents had a harder time breathing. Besides worsened air quality, the state’s mountains and forests had been reduced to mere rubble after being engulfed by wildfires.
North of Grand Junction, the Pine Gulch Fire was the largest fire in Colorado’s history. Sparked by lightning, this fire relentlessly spanned 139,000 acres. The Pine Gulch Fire had been burning for weeks before it was 95 percent contained. Skylines in surrounding cities turned gray due to the smoke.
Although many of this season’s wildfires have been contained, the smoke damage lingers. Smoke damage can cause a slew of problems for weeks after the distressing wildfires. All sorts of damage can result when smoke eventually settles. Property owners need to act immediately to restore their goods.
Painted walls, for instance, can turn yellow when exposed to smoke. Clothes affected by smoke damage will carry permanent stains. Without prompt action, the smoke damage will settle in and become extremely difficult to remove. The subsequent restoration process will also take longer.
While opening a window may seem like the best solution to smoke damage, it is far from the only remedy. The acidic nature of smoke particles makes it difficult to remove. Consequently, property owners will need to gather a few household items to start cleaning up the smoke damage.
What supplies are necessary to clean smoke damage?
A dry-cleaning sponge is the most essential tool necessary for cleaning up smoke damage. Other supplies include rubbing alcohol or paint thinner, white vinegar, a commercial soot remover, a shop-vac, a bucket and hot water, clean rags, a fan, and a sponge.
Step 1: Ventilate
Open the windows to promote air circulation, despite chilly weather conditions. Adequate ventilation is a first step to eliminating the smoke damage. Also, run large fans to encourage airflow. Be sure to turn off the HVAC system so that soot and smoke particles do not have a chance to spread.
Step 2: Vacuum
A shop-vac with an attachment comes in handy. Loose soot particles can be removed via the powerful suction power of the shop-vac. While vacuuming, lightly brush the soot particles to loosen them. Be careful to avoid scrubbing heavily, as doing so can embed the particles deeper into the materials.
Step 3: Wipe away the soot and smoke
Use the dry-cleaning sponge to lift soot and smoke stains from the walls. Do not use water prior to wiping with the sponge, as the moisture spreads soot and makes it impossible to remove with the sponge. Use the clean side of the sponge with every motion.
Step 4: Apply a smoke remover
Once as much dry soot and smoke particles as possible are removed with the sponge, use white vinegar, paint thinner or a commercial soot/smoke remover to wipe all surfaces in the property, even if signs of smoke damage are not evident. Follow by washing with dish soap or degreaser in hot water.
Step 5: Dry out the premises
A clean rag may be used to dry the washed surfaces. Accelerate the drying process by running fans or opening the windows. Carpets may be steam cleaned if smoke odors persist. Upholstery, furniture, and curtains may be professionally cleaned to eliminate lingering smoke odors.
What methods prevent smoke damage?
While these five steps will help restore materials damaged by wildfire smoke, property owners can also take steps to prevent excessive smoke damage. Homes should be equipped with a whole-house HEPA filter or portable air scrubber to minimize indoor air pollution during smokey conditions.
Buildings located in wildfire-prone areas (wooded areas) should be especially protected. Create a defensible space of nonflammable material that separates the flammable vegetation from the home by at least 30 feet. Stack firewood away from the home and clear pine needles from the roof.
Air sealing a home is also an effective way to prevent wildfire smoke from entering. The air sealing process works by filling in gaps and cracks where air can infiltrate from the outdoors into the indoors. Air sealing is usually handled by contractors during construction or renovation of a property.
Windows and doors that are properly installed close tightly, which can help minimize smoke damage to the interior of the home. An improperly sealed door or window can leave gaps or cracks through which smoke may enter during a wildfire. A foam sealant can create an air sealed structure.
When wildfires rage and smoke damage occur, home and business owners should consult ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration for immediate attention. Remember that smoke damage is pervasive and spreads swiftly. Promptly calling a reputable fire and smoke damage cleanup company halts the spread of damage to other parts of the property.
ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration technicians work quickly to stabilize the smoke and fire damaged building and begin repairs. We clean soot and smoke residue from the walls and ceilings. Personal household items, including textiles, clothing, and electronics, that are covered in smoke and soot are also cleaned.
Advanced cleaning solutions and methods are utilized by our specialists to eliminate soot and smoke damage from a variety of household surfaces, like aluminum, brass, marble, tile, and porcelain. We also thoroughly clean soot and smoke from upholstery and furniture. Smoke odors are eliminated through a deodorization process.
Avoid permanent smoke damage to your home or business after a wildfire by promptly contacting ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration. Our smoke damage restoration crews are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to emergency situations in the entire Denver, Colorado metro area, as well as all of Elbert County.