Minor to Moderate
22 March, 2016
Posted by John Niewiecki
Even minor to moderate fire damage to a home should be remediated by a restoration professional
The US economy over the past decade has lingered between stagnant to bad with homeowners shouldering a large portion of the burden. When it comes to minor to moderate fire structure damage to one’s home, it is tempting to avoid the expense of a deductible and do the repair work on one’s own. Beyond the cost in time, effort, and materials, there are real threats to the health and safety of one’s family if the removal of fire and heat altered items are not clean and removed fully and correctly.
According to the International Institute of Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Inc. (IICUC):
The average person will attempt conventional cleaning methods like renting a steam cleaner and using common cleaning agents available at the store. Unfortunately, this will barely make an impact on the problem and could cause bigger issues. Chemical agents could react with the residue and cause permanent damage, and in some cases, they may cause toxic fumes.
Depending upon what was burned or exposed to heat during a fire; airborne toxins as well as toxins that seep into and attach themselves to nearly all the surfaces of your home can be dangerous. According to PuroClean Restoration Specialists of Frisco Texas, someone “may think the fire cleanup efforts are only surface level, but the effects can seep into your floors, walls, and ceiling.”
They continue by stating that, “[s]moke contains extremely toxic chemicals that can cause you permanent health issues if you come into contact with it. Even after the fire has been put out you will still find toxins all over the home that can still be harmful to you if you breathe them in or touch them.”
Independent research proves this is true
According to Michael A. Pinto, CSP, CMP, David A. Batts, Director of the Environmental Services for Wonder Makers Environmental and in conjunction with Odorox Hydroxyl Group, a large number of toxins are created when a home burns. These include aldehydes, esters, halogenated alcohols, hydrocarbons, nitro-nitriles, ketones, aromatics, sulfides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins and more.
Furthermore, this report cites gasses that are produced during structure fires that are considered dangerous and could linger for a long time if not professionally removed. These include Acrolein from cellulosic materials like wood, cotton, paper, and polystyrenes, Toluene diisocyanate from flexible polyurethane foams, and hydrogen cyanide from nitrogen-containing materials such as wool, silk, acrylic fibers, nylons, urea/formaldehyde, melamine, polyurethanes, and polyacrylamide.
According to a report published by Päivi Ruokojärvi, , Marjaleena Aatamila,and Juhani Ruuskanen of the Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Kuopio, Finland, “[i]t is obvious that the concentrations of toxic organic compounds released in residential fires are high even when there are no hazardous substances as such present in the fire.” So although it may seem self evident that a small fire in one’s home seems harmless, it may in fact be the case that exposure to harmful chemicals is present
There are financial benefits of restoring right the first time
Even if there is no threat to one’s family due to toxic residue in the air or on the surfaces of one’s home after a small fire event, restoring one’s home incorrectly can and often will cost more in the long run.
As stated in the IICUC’s report titled Why Professionals Should Clean Smoke Damage From A Fire:
Ash and smoke, if left unhindered, will cause extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration, not to mention lingering powerful odors. Professionals that clean fire and smoke damage can stop this before it becomes a major problem, assuming they are contacted soon enough.
If a professional isn’t hired to clean smoke and fire damage, the costs for restoration will skyrocket after a few weeks.
Damage to one’s home is most often much more than just an inconvenience; it is a life changing event, at least temporarily. Despite the fact that many people are struggling to make mortgage payments and keep their homes above water, cutting corners when there is fire damage to one’s home could not only be harmful to one’s family, but also cost much more in the end.