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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

3 Types Of Fires & Effective Cleaning Techniques

1/7/2019 (Permalink)

Before and After pictures of a home that had been affected by fire damage.

Many people aren't aware that there is more than just one type of fire and that there are different cleaning techniques depending on what type of fire occurred. The most prevalent types of fires are: high-oxygen fires, which produce dry soot; low oxygen fires, which produce greasy, wet soot, and lastly, kitchen fires. Here's a closer look at how to clean each type of fire:

  • High oxygen fire: Dry sponges are a MUST when it comes to this type of fire. Follow this by applying a low-alkali detergent and then rinse thoroughly.
  • Low oxygen fire: Use high-alkali detergents along with warm water to wash the walls and structures. Rinse, then paint over.
  • Kitchen fire: These are often the most challenging fires to clean, as soot residue is difficult to detect. For this reason, cabinets, drawers, and other appliances often need to be removed to adequately clean area.

General Cleaning Techniques

Smoke and soot can often penetrate paint, carpet, upholstery, and textiles (clothing). While carpet can be deep cleaned and textiles can be taken to the dry cleaner's, properly restoring walls, structures, and objects is a different story. So here's a look at some helpful general cleaning techniques:

  • Personal protective equipment: Most important thing to do first is always wear protective equipment. Gloves, a protective mask, long-sleeved shirts and pants should be worn on site to minimize contact with ash.
  • Remove contents: Remove contents from the house. While some contents may have to be discarded, others can be effectively hand cleaned. Cleaning contents in an ultrasonic machine is also an option with some items.
  • Ventilate: Open all windows and doors to remove odor.
  • Beware of other contaminants: Lead and asbestos can turn a fire restoration job into an environmental restoration job if they've become disturbed.
  • Hand scrubbing: Fire damage work is one of the most tedious types of repair work. It involves a lot of handwork, such as scrubbing walls and structures with sponges, and using chemicals, and  specialized restoration equipment, such as media blasting tools, in the event of heavy residue.
  • Duct cleaning: Following restoration, a duct cleaning is required. That's because smoke and soot have a tendency to become trapped within a home of business's duct system. This can spread contaminants and odors to other areas of the home when in operation. Hence, a professional duct cleaning is necessary.

  Techniques for various materials

  • Clothes and fabrics: A specialized dry cleaner is capable of restoring these items to the condition they were before any loss occurred. Cleaning soot contaminated clothing is somewhat of a science, and while a homeowner may be able to adequately restore clothing on his own, it's always best to leave this to the professionals.
  • Carpet: A professional carpet cleaning is a MUST in order to effectively remove contaminants and odor from the carpet.
  • Building Materials: Dry chemical sponges are your best bet for wallboard, plaster, wood, and wallpaper. These will remove much of the soot and also prevent it from being lodged deeper into the material.
  • Other materials: Sponges, towels, and mops are ideal for cleaning tile, glass, metal, and certain appliances. Since these aforementioned objects are less porous than drywall, for example, its OK to use a wet or dampened sponge or cleaning tool. Plus, there's no risk of lodging contaminants deeper into the material.
  • Specialty cleaning tools: Ultrasonic cleaning machines can come in handy as they can adequately clean non-porous items quickly and efficiently, compared to hand cleaning.

Fire damage situations can be very overwhelming, but remember that there is always a solution to every problem. Leave it to the professionals! SERVPRO of East Brownsville & South Padre Island are highly experienced and are here to make things go "Like it never even happened."

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