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Cleaning Smoke Damage With A Professional

Cleaning smoke damage is best left to the professionals. While many home and business owners have access to simple tools or products that can be rented, restoring carpets, drapes, and upholstery that have been blackened in the fumes of a fire is a difficult task.  Many people mistakenly think they can make some progress on their own with some very basic and simple techniques.  But if they make a mistake, it may damage the items even further, possibly resulting in the items needing to be replaced. Professionals who have been trained by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) can do the job properly and with the best results.

Cleaning smoke damage will typically begin with using a powerful vacuum.  The most important thing to remove from carpet, upholstery, and drapes is soot.  Because soot is an oil-based substance, it needs to be removed as quickly as possible so that it does not become a magnet for additional dirt.  Proper methods will be used to avoid driving the soot deeper into the carpeting and fabrics. After vacuuming, the carpet or furniture will likely be covered immediately so that it does not get soiled again as the certified professional moves on to other areas of the home or business.  

Specialty equipment will also be used for cleaning smoke damage. Such devices may include wet cleaning tools, rotary scrubbers, and extractors that inject steam.  Extractors offer the advantage of minimal or no detergent foam or residue.  This allows for unimpeded suction at a deeper level within the carpet and furniture.  Regardless of the tools used, it is not uncommon for the damage to require two applications.

The three most common mistakes made by those who attempt to tackle this task themselves are excessive shampoo, wetting the carpet or upholstery too much, and not protecting the carpet from furniture.  The proper methods used by IICRC-certified technicians will effectively avoid issues that will cause additional damage to the carpeting and furniture.  

Furniture is perhaps the greatest variable when it comes to effectively cleaning smoke damage.  Wooden furniture can stain the carpet with dyes.  Metal furniture can begin to rust and stain the carpet.  Without proper tools such as foam blocks and protective squares, it is very difficult to keep carpet separated from furniture until it is dry.  

In addition to the advantage of hiring certified technicians that have the proper tools, the expertise these professionals have will be useful when resolving disputes with insurance adjusters.  Many homeowners’ policies cover this type of damage, either as a specific line item, or under the partial losses section of the policy.  However, adjusters often recommend replacement over repair when fire and smoke damages carpets, drapes, and upholstery.  A certified professional’s opinion is often preferred over a less credentialed counterpart.

A professional who specializes in cleaning smoke damage can prove to the adjuster that certain items can be restored through cleaning if proper materials and techniques are applied.  Restoration costs can then often be covered per the stipulations of the particular policy.

Though many believe they can begin the clean-up process themselves, it is best to hire a certified technician, both for the furnishings, and the health of the home or business owner.

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