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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

California Wildfire property damage mitigation

7/7/2022 (Permalink)

Fire Damage Restoration Tips: Interior Ash and Smoke Removal

FEMA recommends that you have “heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units and all ductwork professionally cleaned to remove soot, ash and smoke residue.” They further recommend that you change your HVAC filters right away and monitor them over the course of next few months.

If possible, it is a good idea to do this first so that you will be breathing cleaner air while you do the rest of your interior fire cleanup. Whether or not you are able to schedule cleaning of your HVAC units and ductwork right away, you will also want to begin to remove smoke particles and clean the air in your home by setting up one or more air purifiers with HEPA filters (not HEPA-type filters).

If you have ash, soot and smoke inside your home, you will likely want to remove the ash first, then the California Wildfire property damage mitigation soot, then the smoke odors. If you have only ash and smoke, remove the ash first, and then begin working on removing the smoke smell. Keep in mind that this only refers to removing the smell of smoke; your HEPA air purifiers should be cleaning the air as soon as possible.

Ash can be removed from most surfaces with a dust cloth. Be sure to wipe down all books, picture frames, contents, as well as the tables or shelves on which they sit. A hand broom or brush can be used to sweep ash of off furniture. Be particularly careful when removing ash from textiles, such as sofa cushions since you can push the ash down into the fabric. On solid surfaces that will not be damaged by moisture, you can dust the surface, wipe the surface down with a damp cloth, and then dry it with a dry cloth for a more thorough cleaning.

After you have removed the ash from your furnishings and décor, you can sweep up any ash on the floor, collect it in bags and place it in your outdoor waste bin. Follow this by wet mopping the floor to remove remaining residue.

You are going to be tempted to vacuum up the ashes, but this is usually not a good idea.  Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles, but rather blow such particles out the exhaust in the air where they can be breathed.

Therefore, most associations do not recommend using shop vacuums or non-HEPA filter vacuums; however, you can use a HEPA filter vacuum if you happen to have one.

The next problem to tackle is the smoke smell, which is the main issue for most homeowners recovering from a fire near their home. The first thing to know when addressing this issue is that odor-masking sprays will not work. They might cover up the smell for a few days, but it will return. And, in the meantime, you are just adding more chemicals to the air.  HEPA air filtration is key as is use of ozone treatment in the property.

Questions on this? Call SERVPRO of Newport Beach today 949-646-2073

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