What to Do After a House Fire: Restoration Tips

A man fixes a burnt socket showing what to do after a house fire

A fire in your home is one of the most traumatic events any homeowner or renter can face. Even when your home survives a blaze, the damage created by the fire—and the resulting smoke—can be significant, even in parts of the home that weren’t directly touched by flame.

The cleanup and restoration process after a fire isn’t easy, but it’s possible to repair this fire and smoke damage in your house. Here’s an overview of how to repair fire damage to your home, and tips to achieve a transformative restoration.

What to Do After a House Fire: First Steps

Once the blaze in a home is put out, you’ll need to take steps to mitigate ongoing damage and determine the scope of repair and restoration required for your home. You will want to take the following steps:

  • Assess the structural integrity of your home. This will likely require the assistance of an engineer or other trained inspector. You need to determine whether the home’s structure is still sound, or whether repairs need to be made to keep it upright and safe.
  • Evaluate the extent of fire damage. Fire-damaged walls can hide damaged water and electrical lines that need repaired. An inspector may need to remove additional parts of the wall or other structures to determine the scope of this damage.
  • Remove water and debris as soon as possible. Once the home is cool and safe to enter, water used to put out the fire must be removed to mitigate any water damage. Ash, burned materials and other debris should be cleared away to mitigate smoke damage and create a safe space to perform renovations.
  • Bring in restoration companies to get quotes on services. You will likely need restoration specialists to aid in some or all the restoration work. The earlier you get in contact with these companies, the sooner you can restore your home to its original glory.

Fire Damage Restoration Tips

Once your home is secured and water is dried out, the restoration process can begin. Here are some tips to improve your restoration process, and the quality of your finished work:

  • Avoid painting over fire-damaged walls. While it’s possible to repaint walls that have been smoke-damaged or fully dried after water exposure, a fire-damaged wall may offer less structural integrity over time. Fire-resistant drywall may be less effective at deterring flames in the event of a future fire. In cases where the wall itself has been damaged, it is better to fully replace the wall.
  • Consider encapsulating fire-damaged wood. Where wood has been touched by fire but remains structurally sound, you can lock in the smoke and preserve the wood by applying sealants to close the porous wood surfaces. Most sealants or primers can achieve this.
  • Do not handle surfaces or items covered in soot. Allow a professional restoration company to contain and clean this mess.
  • Restore your home using fire-resistant features. Look for opportunities to improve the fire-resistance of surfaces and features. Fire-resistant drywall and paint, fire barriers behind your home’s walls, and fire alarms with battery backup can all improve your home’s integrity and level of defense against a future fire.

Smoke Damage Restoration Tips

Smoke can cause significant damage to your home, and this damage can infiltrate parts of your home where the fire doesn’t reach.

Take the following steps to remediate smoke damage in your home:

  • Use ozone treatments to deodorize the home. All porous surfaces are liable to absorb smoke. Ozone generators can help pull this smoke odor out of these surfaces through an oxidizing agent released into the air.
  • Dry-clean all furniture. This includes window drapes and carpets, to remove the smell of smoke from the upholstery.
  • Call in an electrician to thoroughly inspect for smoke damage to electrical wiring. When smoke comes in contact with electrical wiring, it can get trapped in the wiring and cause a corrosive effect that increases the risk of electrical malfunction. Some parts of your home may need to be completely rewired for safety, including, potentially, your home’s circuit board.
  • Pull smoke from structural elements through thermal fogging. Like ozone treatments, thermal fogging is a process that reopens porous surfaces such as drywall and wood framing and allows trapped smoke to escape.
  • Run your home’s HVAC system constantly. Replace filters frequently as soot builds up. This can help clear out smoke and soot faster.

While the mess created by a home fire might be overwhelming, there are professionals who specialize in mitigating damage and restoring your home to its original splendor. Contact a local restoration specialist to get the help you need to tackle this major project.

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