FIRE/SMOKE HAPPENS – Article by Jonathan Meister with 24 Hour Restoration
We all know Southern California has a pretty sizeable reserve of homes. The US Census Bureau says that as of 2009, there are over 5.8 million housing units in the Southern California counties of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego alone. And inevitably due to chance, nature, (or in unfortunate instances) fiendish purpose, fire is an everyday occurrence. In Los Angeles County, the busiest fire stations can average over 40 responses per day.
These are for the major incidents. What about the smallest of fires such as that burnt zucchini bread in the oven can cause rooms to fill with smoke, which when it lingers, can leave potentially damaging particles and that strong, unpleasant smoky odor behind? Then remediation and deodorization is often on the playbill: Enter emergency restoration contractors such as 24 Hour Restoration.
How does an emergency restoration contractor such as 24 Hour Restoration clean and restore smoke damaged property to pre-loss conditions? There are four main steps:
- REMOVE from the source as soon as possible. As with all disaster recovery operations, the number one rule is to go to the source of the problem to fix it immediately and to mitigate any further property loss. In other words, take that burnt zucchini bread out of the oven and dispose of it.
- CLEAN all contamination from surfaces. Various restoration chemicals are used in this process such as:
- Dry Cleaning Sponge (for walls, ceilings, delicate material, loose soot)
- Absorbent Compound Cleaner (books, wallpaper, artwork)
- General Purpose Cleaner (mild alkaline cleaner, usually less than10 pH; for moderate soot levels on wood and structural materials)
- Heavy Duty Cleaner (this is a degreaser, a high pH cleaner, usually between 10-12 pH. Used for baked-on soot, durable contents and surfaces)
- Glass Cleaners &Metal Cleaners
- Acid Cleaner (for tile grout or aluminum surfaces—this cleaner requires airflow and proper PPE)
- Textile/Upholstery Cleaner (preconditioner, rinse agents, acidic agents, low-moisture, solvent)
- Chlorine Bleach (this removes color from nylon and dissolves protein fibers, but on the downside it can corrode metals)
- RECREATE the conditions of penetrations with appropriate counteractants. Sometimes equipment such as an ozone machine is brought in, which creates a thermal fog in the room that actually recreates the smoke scenario. This time, however, the ozone cleanses the affected areas and can even reach areas that were difficult to reach during the preliminary cleaning process.
- SEALif required. Sometimes even after a thorough cleaning and after an ozone machine is brought in, the smoky odor persists. In this case, all walls are painted with a special primer such as Killz Primer to encapsulate the odor.
Often the homeowner and the restoration contractor must determine the property restoration options: a) Cleanb) Resurface c) Replace. Cleaning damaged property is least expensive and consists simply of removing soot or soil that is foreign to the material or property. Resurfacing is less expensive than replacing property, and consists of painting, refinishing, or reupholstering. Generally most expensive is replacing which is replacing all unsalvageable items with new or refurbished items.
The sooner a professional and certified restoration contractor is called in, the less restoration work is needed, and the sooner a property can be returned to pre-loss condition.
Fortunately, for many of us, fire damage is a rarity. But with over 5.8 million housing units and over 16.5 million people in Southern California at 2009 count, fire and smoke happens.
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