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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What Can be Salvaged after a House Fire?

12/13/2022 (Permalink)

Two technicians cleaning smoke from ceiling Soot cleanup

What Happens When a House Catches on Fire

When a house fire occurs, it can be devastating. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to make yourself feel better about the situation and protect your finances in the process. Before we get into how to salvage what's left of your home after a fire—and how not to get scammed by those who claim they know how—let's talk about what happens when a house catches on fire.

What cannot be salvaged after a house fire?

Food, dishes and utensils: The smoke from a fire will leave an odor on your food. This can be cleaned, but only through extensive cleaning. If you have cooked meat in the refrigerator that has been exposed to smoke for long periods of time, it may not be safe to eat.

Electronics and appliances: Any electronic items that have been exposed to high temperatures for extended periods of time will probably not function again. This includes televisions, computers and other computer equipment such as printers/scanners/fax machines or monitors; telephones; stereo equipment including speakers; microwave ovens etcetera. Anything with circuit boards needs professional evaluation by an expert before attempting any repairs because they may contain toxic materials which could cause further damage should they be handled improperly at this point in time!

Furniture: Furniture made from natural fibers such as cotton is usually damaged beyond repair when exposed directly over long periods of time with no protection from heat sources such as burning embers falling on them directly.

What can be salvaged after a house fire?

Fire damage is not always the end of a home. If you act fast and clean up with care, you can save some of your belongings if you act fast.

If your home has been damaged by fire, take the following steps:

  • Take photos of any items that were damaged by smoke or water from firefighting efforts. This will help with insurance claims later.
  • Remove any materials that have melted or burned onto other items (like pots on stoves). Don’t try to remove them yourself; call in professionals for this type of work. The damage may be worse than it looks at first glance!

Types of damage after a fire

Fire damage can be extremely difficult to repair, and a house fire can leave you with a lot of valuable items that cannot be salvaged. The following is a list of the most common types of damage after a fire:

  • Fire damage to walls and ceilings
  • Fire damage to floors
  • Fire damage to furniture
  • Fire damage to carpets
  • Fire damage to clothing, textiles, and upholstery

Fire damage to wood

Wood can be salvaged if it is not burned, water damaged, moldy and/or rotted. However, if the wood has sustained heat damage from the fire it may be necessary to replace a section of the framing. This is because once heat penetrates wood, it changes the grain structure of the wood and makes it more brittle. While you can use this information to help determine whether you should salvage your floorboards after a house fire - there are just too many variables to say with certainty what will happen when you attempt to remove them.

Wood floors are often installed over joists that have been nailed directly into walls rather than supported by beams, which means they're attached only at each end and run unsupported down the middle of rooms like hallways or bedrooms where they're likely exposed more frequently so they're more likely affected by moisture from such things as leaks from plumbing pipes or HVAC systems (heating/cooling).

Fire damage to metal

  • Cleaning metal is a relatively simple process.
  • Soap, water, and steel wool are all that’s needed to clean up smoke damage on your copper pipes, brass fixtures and other metal pieces.
  • To remove the soot from these items, soak them in soapy water for an hour or two before scrubbing them with steel wool. The more stubborn the stain is, you may need to repeat this process several times before it comes off completely.

Fire damage to carpet and flooring

If the fire was contained to a single room, your carpet and flooring can be salvaged. This is especially true of hardwood floors, which are very durable and resistant to fire damage. If you have tile or vinyl flooring, it may not survive as well; however, this can also depend on how long the flames were burning before they were extinguished.

If you suspect any kind of damage to your flooring in general or just want peace of mind that everything is fine, we recommend hiring a professional cleaning crew who specializes in fire restoration after fires have occurred.

Fire-damaged clothing, textiles, and upholstery

Clothing, textiles, and upholstery can be salvaged from a house fire. If you have time before the fire department arrives, remove these items from the home yourself.

Fire-damaged clothing is best cleaned as soon as possible to prevent the spread of smoke odors into other areas of your home. Clothing can be cleaned by hand with detergent and water or machine-washed in cold water on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. Dry at low temperatures on a low setting to avoid excessive shrinking or wrinkling. Use fabric softener if desired to soften clothes that were previously dried on high heat settings like dryers; this will help minimize any stiffness caused by overheating during some laundering methods such as drying clothes in direct sunlight or ironing them while still damp after laundering. 

Call a professional

When you're faced with a fire, one of the first things to do is call 911. If that's not possible, get out of the house and call from a neighbor's phone. The fire department will tell you whether it's safe for you to return or whether it might be better for someone else to help salvage what they can.

If possible, it's best to call professional cleaners before attempting any cleanup yourself (but if an insurance adjuster has already been called, there may not be much point in doing so). If not, here are some tips:

  • Don't use water or other cleaning methods on anything that was exposed to heat—it could make things worse!  A vacuum cleaner should also be avoided; instead wrap any objects in towels or paper bags before carrying them outside. If an object is too big for this method, turn off all power sources (like electricity) before trying to move anything large out of the house; if something isn’t plugged in but has electronic elements like batteries or solar panels attached, remove those first!

If you’re dealing with fire damage, don’t wait to call a professional. A house fire can cause significant damage to your home and belongings. If you notice signs of smoke or soot in your property, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced company who knows what they are doing.

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