Understanding Smoke Damage

smoke damage
Microscopic smoke particles will penetrate porous surfaces (clothing, blankets, & linens) and seep behind molding or paneling.

Smoke damage isn’t just the visible soot on ceilings & walls, the real damage is the lingering smell that is trapped in nearly every part of a smoke-affected structure. This lingering smoke smell is generated by the smallest of smoke particles invisible to the naked eye. These microscopic particles can & will penetrate all porous surfaces and get behind moldings or paneling and a multitude of other small voids within a structure. Removing & cleaning those surfaces is tricky and should be left to the professionals.

Understanding the composition, travel path & proper cleaning techniques of smoke is what professionally trained smoke damage cleanup companies specialize in. Attempting to provide smoke damage restoration as a layman will exacerbate & frustrate most homeowners. Worst of all, the work attempted by a non-professional (typical homeowner) will need to be duplicated once a professional is brought in to rectify a lingering smoke smell from a poorly executed smoke cleanup job.

Smoke damage cleanup: filtering out smoke particles

The best smoke smell removal companies on Long Island deploy carbon-filtered HEPA air scrubbers to filter the air immediately after a fire or profound smoke condition is noted within a structure. This is the 1st step because they know that microscopic smoke particles will stay airborne for many days after the fire or smoke condition is stopped. Unless these particles are filtered out of the air, they will be breathed in by occupants and will settle down on EVERY surface. They will also be absorbed into textiles (clothes, blankets, towels & linens). Improperly cleaning these items & surfaces may cause these toxic particles to be more deeply embedded into these porous surfaces, locking in that nasty smoke smell indefinitely.

Contact a “full service” restoration contractor

A proper smoke cleanup job will typically involve a massive amount of work utilizing specialized equipment and cleaning techniques. This project will most definitely be covered by a typical homeowner policy. We would highly recommend that your 1st call should be to a “full service” restoration contractor who can assist you in coordinating & executing a proper cleanup executed the right way from the beginning.

Learn more about smoke damage

Learn more about the Do’s & Don’ts and FAQS of smoke damage, as well as home insurance coverage, here.

The True Restorations Team



Why Hire A Smoke Cleanup Company?

Smoke can be hazardous to your health, worsening asthma and causing respiratory conditions. Don’t underestimate its power and have any smoke-related damage taken care of right away. True Restoration, a smoke damage restoration company, will help you go through a full smoke removal, smoke cleanup & deodorizing procedure in the event of a smoke damage emergency.

If you have ever experienced a small fire or smoke condition in your home or your business, you probably can remember how the smell penetrated everywhere throughout the structure. Perhaps you attempted to provide your own smoke cleanup, a puff back cleanup or soot cleanup from a fire. Maybe you attempted to mask the smell of the smoke by deodorizing on your own. I would be willing to bet that the smell never really went away. There is a very good reason for the lack of success in attempting a smoke cleanup on your own….it’s a tricky & laborious process that requires a lot of knowledge & expertise as well as specialized equipment.

Trained smoke & fire restoration contractors possess specialized equipment & training for cleaning & deodorizing a structure. It would be highly advisable to seek out help from one of these contractors right from the onset of a smoke condition.  These contractors are not only highly trained in cleaning & deodorizing, they also are very familiar with dealing with insurance companies in navigating the insurance claims process. They can be a tremendous asset & advocate in assuring that the proper cleanup is done, as well as securing a proper payout from the insurance company, minimizing or eliminating out of pocket expenses for their clients. Understanding some of the dynamics of a smoke condition can help one understand the level & type of cleaning & deodorizing needed for any particular smoke cleanup project.

What causes smoke?

When a liquid or a solid (oil, wood, plastic, etc) is heated up, it changes states to a gaseous form. As this change of state occurs, this new gas created is also oxidizing (combining with oxygen). You can see this rapid oxidation process, which would be visually represented by a flame. High heat is the byproduct of rapid oxidation, this high heat, in turn, heats up the solid/liquid even more & creates a feedback loop which in turn causes more vaporizing along with more oxidation and so on. The smoke that you see is the gaseous form of that solid/liquid that has not completely oxidized (a.k.a., unoxidized, unburnt fuel). The smoke particles that are within the smoke will vary in size, the size will vary based on the type of material being vaporized & amount of heat generated by the oxidation process. A high heat fire creates very small diameter smoke particles, so miniscule in nature that a lot of them cannot be seen by the naked eye. This vaporizing & oxidizing process also creates highly pressurized conditions within a structure, which causes the penetration of smoke particles to virtually every part of the structure. The size of the particles will affect how deeply they can penetrate into surfaces & materials contained within a structure. Also, the smaller the size, the less visible they are the more likely for them to stay airborne & unsettled. These particles are an extreme inhalation risk for inhabitants and should be collected & scrubbed from the air ASAP.

We all know that heat rises, the same goes for the heated smoke particles. Highly heated, pressurized smoke particles are searching for a way to vent out of the structure. They will go out open windows, or more likely, will travel vertically through a structure and collect at the highest levels and then mushroom out searching for a way out from the highly pressure environment they are in. Understanding the travel path of smoke is the key to knowing where the smoke particles will be potentially trapped and linger & remain as a smelly reminder well after the fire. Getting at these odor causing particles & neutralizing them takes specialized equipment & techniques.

An untrained, unequipped homeowner attempting a smoke restoration or soot cleanup may unwittingly cause more damage to surfaces and finishes during cleanup by driving smoke particles deeper into surfaces during the cleanup process. Not having access to an industrial strength air scrubber with carbon filtering could mean that recently cleaned surfaces can be re-contaminated with smoke particles that can stay airborne for up to 10 days. Also, the unwitting homeowner may not realize that smoke particles have penetrated behind the walls, behind paneling, or have worked their way into the cracks where the trim meets the walls & floors, or realizing that odor causing smoke particles have been trapped in insulation, or have penetrated into the pours of soft framing lumber hidden from view. All this can mean that a deodorization can never be achieved without the use of specialized equipment & techniques that can penetrate & neutralize these trapped odor producing particles. In short, it is unwise for a novice to attempt a smoke or soot cleanup.

If you sustain any kind of smoke condition at your home or business, immediately call True Restorations at 631-757-0212 for a free consultation and assistance with cleanup & processing of any insurance claim.

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