Cleaning soot after a house fire can be a challenging task. It’s a critical phase in the smoke damage cleaning process, and one that needs to be performed quickly, yet carefully.
Soot is a black, powdery substance made up of tiny, carbon-based particles. It occurs when the fire doesn’t completely burn its fuel source, leaving a black residue and foul odor. Soot can easily spread throughout the home, settle into carpets, and find its way into electrical components. It can even enter air ducts, which can then be redistributed. It can be inhaled or ingested, causing long-term breathing issues, and sometimes even death. The elderly, and those who already have breathing problems, are often most affected.
Because the size of house fires and smoke damage caused by them may be less extensive, some homeowners feel they can take on the restoration process on their own. In the following sections, you’ll learn what equipment you need and steps you need to take, to ensure that soot particles are properly removed, and soot stains are thoroughly cleaned.
Soot Cleaning Equipment
To successfully and safely remove and clean soot from smoke damage, you’ll need to have the following equipment:
- A high-powered wet/dry vacuum or soot vacuum
- Several soot sponges and cellulose cleaning sponges
- A soot remover solution like Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
- Rubber gloves, coveralls, goggles, and masks
Because you’re dealing with a health-hazardous substance, its important to use high-quality materials, which may cost more. Once you’ve collected the appropriate equipment, you can begin the steps to removing soot particles and cleaning soot stains.
Steps To Clean Soot
- Vacuum Loose Particles
First, clear the room of all fire damage debris. Once you have an open space, vacuum all loose soot particles from the surface edges. Be careful as you vacuum so you do not to redistribute soot back into the air and do not press hard as soot can easily smear.
TIP: Use a dusting brush on your vacuum hose
- Wipe Down with Soot Sponge
Next, use a soot sponge to wipe down the surfaces. Be sure to wipe evenly across the surface; do not scrub back and forth. Soot sponges are highly effective at absorbing stuck soot particles. Start on the ceiling and work your way down the walls, top to bottom.
TIP: Use the soot sponge until every corner is dark, then cut layers off to expose unused edges
(LM employee using a soot sponge to clean soot from a ceiling; before and after)
- Wash with Cleaning Solution
Finally, use a cellulose sponge dipped in a cleaning solution to begin removing the soot stains. Use a soot remover like TSP or create your own degreasing mixture using water and dishwashing liquid. Continue to wash until the stain is removed or stops fading.
TIP: Not all soot stains can be completely removed
Unfortunately, the smoke damage cleaning process doesn’t stop there; odors from soot stains can linger. The next phase would be to deodorize smoke damaged surfaces and encapsulate them with a smoke odor sealer before painting.
If you feel unsure about performing these steps or worried that your situation may require professional help, call a fire restoration contractor right away.
Fire Restoration Contractors
Hiring a fire restoration contractor is the best way to repair smoke damage and keep you and your family safe. They will have the necessary professional soot removal tools needed to get the job done effectively, and efficiently.
A fire restoration company will also conduct a thorough inspection of the home, including your duct work. They will also look for water damage that can lead to future problems such as mold growth or comprise structural integrity.
Fire Damage Restoration from LM
LM Companies LLC is a fire restoration contractor located in Cuyahoga Falls with over 45 years’ experience in the restoration industry. LM’s goal is to restore your home or property to a better, cleaner, and safer condition than it was before the disaster took place.
When you hire LM for help with smoke damage cleaning, LM will work diligently with your insurance company and keep you informed of the progress. For more information about LM’s smoke damage cleaning services, visit our Fire Damage Restoration page or call us @ 330-688-7680.