Ask The SERVPRO Experts: What Damage Is Most Common After A Fire?
It’s usually not the actual fire that does the most damage to a home from a house fire. What causes the most damage to homes that suffered a fire is the smoke from the fire and the water from the firefighters. Below we will cover common damages that occur in a home after a fire.
Where You’ll Find Most Damage from a Fire
Obviously, you’ll find the most damage to a home at the source of the fire. In the case of a stovetop fire, this would be around the range hood, back wall, and ceiling above. In the case of a space heater igniting a curtain, the damage would be around the curtain and on the ceiling above the curtain.
While there will be flame damage right near the source, the majority of the damage will be from the smoke of the fire. If you’ve ever blown out a candle or roasted marshmallows over an open fire, you’ll know that smoke rises. When a fire occurs in your home, the smoke will also rise up and to the ceiling. If the fire is near a wall you might see discoloration up the wall with most of the discoloration right above the source of the fire on the ceiling.
As the fire continues to create more smoke, the smoke will spread across the ceiling and look for a place to escape and go higher. This could be up a stairwell or through ceiling vents. If the smoke has no place to go any higher, it will start to build up and start to come down closer to the floor like a fog. With smoke having the tendency to go up, this is why they say to get nearest to the ground when escaping a fire since there is usually less smoke.
The last area where you’ll most of the smoke damage from a fire is around windows and doors. As the smoke builds up in a house, it looks for the easiest place to escape outside. While this could be a chimney, smoke will also slip out through any cracks or drafts in windows and doors. In homes that suffer a lot of damage, you’ll usually find heavy discolorations around drafty doors and windows.
The Two Variables That Can Spread the Smoke Even Further
While we’ve discussed the typical behavior of smoke from a fire and where you’ll typically find the most damage, there are two variables that can change the behavior of the smoke and help carry it and the damage it causes even further throughout your home. The two things that can help spread the smoke even further are your ceiling fans and your central HVAC system. If your ceiling fans are on or your HVAC blower is on, then the smoke can be blown and carried throughout the house.
If your HVAC system is running then the smoke will most likely enter through the return vents and be spread throughout the duct system. This will not only carry the smoke and the smoke damage throughout the house, it will also cause smoke damage to your ducts. Your ducts might have dust throughout the system which can absorb the smoke meaning every time your air conditioner or heater turns on, you’ll smell the residual smoke for weeks and months after the fire. To remove the smoke from your ducts and HVAC system, you’ll need to have them professionally cleaned.
Battling Discoloration and Odor from Smoke
As you’ve read above, the most damaging part of a fire is usually the smoke. Smoke can discolor any surfaces it comes into contact with. This can include ceilings, walls, and floors but also furniture, clothes, toys, and other household objects. The smoke can seep through every little tiny crack and space discoloring everything in its path.
The second thing that smoke can do to many surfaces of your home is leave an odor. While surfaces that are smooth and not porous can be cleaned easily, the smoke odor can easily embed into porous surfaces like fabric furniture, clothes, curtains, carpets, sheets, electronics and non-sealed wood.
How to Clean Up Fire and Smoke Damage
Cleaning up after a fire, even a small one, isn’t as easy as cleaning up a spilled glass of liquid off the floor. Due to the chemical properties of fire and smoke, removing the discoloration can be difficult if not impossible in some situations. Removing the smoke odor can be even more difficult especially when dealing with electronics, fabric furniture, carpeting, and clothes.
The best step to take if you should regrettably experience a fire in your Indianapolis-area home is to call the fire damage repair and restoration experts at SERVPRO have the knowledge and equipment to remove all the fire and smoke damage and restore your home to how it was prior to the fire. They are a trusted leader in the restoration industry that business owners and homeowners have turned to for years restore and repair their property.