Understanding Fire Damage
Open flames make for great news, but they are rarely the biggest source of damage to Bel Air homes. Heat affects structural and property surfaces more, but smoke residues are the primary sources of concern and restoration cost.
Cleaning the effects of Bel Air, CA fire damage takes not just tools and cleaning agents, but a thorough knowledge of how it happened. That means understanding, among other factors, how hot the fire burned which generated the smoke and how hot were the surfaces the smoke penetrated or settled onto during the fire. SERVPRO inspectors and technicians learn everything we can about these factors before we start each task.
Temperatures are necessary to know because they determine convection. It is how smoke moves through a home. Simply put, hot air rises which force cooler air downward, usually back to the heat source. The air heats again, pushing its way back and forcing the now cooler air back down. Smoke is carried with the air, spreading it across ceilings and walls as long as the fire has enough oxygen and material to burn.
The heat from the hotter air expands or ‘opens’ the surfaces, allowing smoke to penetrate farther into the material and leave residues deeper than at lower, cooler areas of the home. That makes smoke residue left on ceilings and upper walls more difficult for a SERVPRO restoration team to clean.
The surfaces in the cooler areas of the home are more ‘closed’ to smoke penetration than hotter areas, but they attract more hot smoke than warmer surfaces. Windows, for example, have a greatly cooler temperature outside the home. Closets, if closed, have a cooler, inside temperature that partially insulates them. Both surfaces usually have a very thick layer of residue, but they rarely have more than minor damage.
Knowing these factors provides us the knowledge to properly clean the affected surfaces. For surfaces that remained ‘closed’ to smoke residues, our technicians use cloths and sponges to remove the majority of them with perhaps a small amount of water or a cleaning agent to remove everything. If the surface was more directly affected by the heat, we might need to use some agitation device like a wire brush with a cleaning agent to remove every trace of residue.