Fire Restoration Process
Fire Loss in Jackson, NJ
After the smoke clears and you need help cleaning up the mess. Here is the process we take to make you and your family feel safe after a major disaster.
Step 1: Emergency Contact
The restoration process begins when you call SERVPRO of Marlboro/Tinton Falls. Once we have spoken to you we will send out a project manager to assess the loss and come up with the best course of action.
Step 2: Inspection and Assessment
We carefully inspect and test the rooms of your property to determine the extent of the fire, smoke, and soot damage.
Step 3: Immediate Board-Up and Roof-Tarp Service
To maintain security and to protect against further damage, we will board up any missing windows and walls and place tarps on damaged roofs as necessary.
Step 4: Water Removal and Drying
Any standing water removal will (drying out the structure) begin almost immediately as long as there is power available at the loss and removes the majority of the water. We will use dehumidifiers and air movers to remove the remaining water and complete the drying process.
Step 5: Removal of Smoke and Soot from All Surfaces
Specialized equipment and techniques are used to remove smoke and soot from ceilings, walls, and other surfaces.
Step 6: Cleaning
Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting of all restorable items and structures that were damaged by the fire will be performed.
Step 7: Restoration
Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new flooring; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.
Call SERVPRO of Marlboro/Tinton Falls 732-536-7555 or visit us at www.SERVPROmarlborotintonfalls.com.
Fire & Water Damage in Middlesex, NJ
Fire Damage to home in Middlesex, NJ
There's something terrifying about fire damage especially if you come across the wrong restoration company. SERVPRO of Marlboro/Tinton Falls had a customer that called us in after another restoration company had started the job but the customers just were not comfortable with what was happening on site. Our team sat down with the customer and explained the process of our work with them and also informed them of some facts about fire damage. Fire damage is caused by fire, smoke and heat and they affect the structure of a home as well as the contents within the home. In this blog we will be pointing out fire damage facts that could help you in the future.
Smoke and soot residues are a common effect of fire even the smallest of fires. Not all soot is the same, some soot is easy to cleanup and others are extremely hard to clean. You need to learn about smoke and combustion to understand the different types of soot. As combustion takes place, the burning material is actually breaking own and combining with oxygen while heat is given off. Fuel, oxygen and heat are 3 components that have to be present for combustion to happen.
Smoke is created when burning materials decompose, and release solid particles, gases and aerosols that suspend in the air. Some of the gaseous by-products generated in a fire, such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, are extremely dangerous if people are exposed to the smoke while the fire is in progress. In addition to fire gases, smoke also consists of fine particles of matter and aerosols. The solid particles of unburned material are usually small particles of carbon. The aerosols are extremely fine solid or liquid particles suspended in the gases. These particles—while they are suspended in the air—are what make smoke visible to our sight. The particles are also odor-absorbing, which makes soot smell.
If you are near a fire in progress, keep down low to avoid breathing smoke-filled air. Technicians working long periods where heavy, loose smoke residues are present should wear a respirator. Smoke particles from incomplete combustion can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which may be cancer-causing (carcinogenic).
Once smoke settles on surfaces as residues, it is often referred to as “soot.” Soot residues can contain different types of acids since chlorides and sulfides in smoke mix with the humidity in the air or with moisture to form acids. Acidic soot residues will cause discoloration and corrosion if they remain on materials over time.
Not all soot residues are the same. Some types of soot are easier to clean than other types. Technicians will most often clean one of four different types of soot:
- Dry smoke residues
- Wet smoke residues
- Protein smoke residues
- Fuel oil smoke residues
Every fire progresses through stages, generating both wet and dry smoke. Some fires produce a large enough proportion of one type of smoke to characterize the entire exposure as predominately wet smoke or predominately dry smoke. Different cleaning methods are used to remove different types of residues. Generally, wet smoke is more difficult to remove than dry smoke.
Whether smoke residues tend to be dry or wet is determined by several factors:
- The rate of combustion
- The amount ofoxygen present during the fire
- The type of material or substance that is burning.
In many fires, the more oxygen available while the fire is in progress, the faster the combustion process takes place. Fast-burning, oxygen-rich fires usually produce a dry smoke. Oxygen-starved, slow-burning, smoldering fires usually produce a wet smoke.
The type of materials burned also affects the smoke particles and aerosols produced by a fire. Natural materials tend to produce dry, powdery, small, non-smeary residues, or dry smoke. Examples of natural materials are dry wood, paper, cork, and natural fibers (wool, cotton). Synthetic materials tend to produce wet, large, easily smeared particles of residue, or wet smoke. Examples of synthetic materials are plastics, foam rubber, and similar polymers.
More types of materials are restorable in dry smoke conditions than in wet. Dry smoke residue carries few aerosols and deposits small, dry particles on surfaces. Dry smoke does not stain surfaces as deeply as wet smoke, and the odor is less pungent. Less aggressive cleaning procedures will usually remove dry smoke residues. One problem, however, is that dry smoke generally comes from hotter fires, which cause more heat damage than do cooler fires.
Wet smoke residues are more difficult to remove than dry smoke, making restoration more difficult. Wet smoke typically contains a high proportion of aerosols such as varnishes, solvents, and other liquid components. With a slow-burning fire, air currents do not drive the smoke from the heat of the fire. Wet smoke moves slowly and has time to work its way into crevices and enclosed areas that normally would not be contaminated by a faster-burning fire. Within minutes of contact, very hot oily residues will discolor plastic materials.
In many instances, contents exposed to a smoldering fire and wet smoke are not restorable even though heat damage is minimal. Aerosols in wet smoke soften, penetrate, and stain finished surfaces. Unfinished surfaces also absorb and entrap these residues. Burning plastics and rubbers produce large, black particles that tend to smear or smudge. Removing wet smoke may not be possible, and sometimes even stripping and refinishing may not prove adequate.
Kitchen fires often involve burning meat, poultry, or fish. Burning these materials leaves protein residues, which may be yellow or amber in color or virtually invisible, causing only slight discoloration of painted walls and cabinet surfaces. Protein smoke odors, are extremely pungent, so odor removal is usually the biggest problem in protein fires. Odors in protein fires cannot be controlled without thoroughly cleaning all surfaces contaminated with the greasy protein residue. Sometimes an entire home may require cleaning even though residue concentrations are not visually obvious.
Furnace puff-backs, very common in the Northeast, occur when a malfunctioning oil burner suddenly ignites, jarring loose old soot. Improper venting or a crack in the heat exchanger may cause a puff-back. Soot from a puff-back consists of dust particles from the ductwork and fuel oil that did not properly burn. It may be gray to black in color, greasy, and consist of small or large particles. The fresh soot is usually removable without damaging painted surfaces. However, the soot particles are sometimes hard and crusty, so one must be careful not to scratch surfaces. If the furnace has been emitting smoke over an extended period prior to ignition, the soot may bond to wall paints making it impossible to remove the soot without removing some of the paint.
During a fire, soot and smoke particles settle on and adhere to surfaces. Restoration means removing those soot residues. If you understand how smoke behaves during a fire, you will know where to find the heaviest deposits of smoke residues when you inspect a damage. Two factors of smoke behavior deal with temperature—the temperature of the smoke and the temperature of surrounding surfaces.
Convection refers to heat being transferred through air movement. Hot air rises because it is not as dense as cold air. As it rises, it displaces cooler air, which flows downwards. As a fire continues to burn, it pulls in the cooler air at lower levels and heats it. This air rises and forces the air near the ceiling to flow downwards. As long as the fire burns, this pattern continues, resulting in a constant movement and circulation of air in a building or room. These are convection currents.
You probably learned as a child to drop to the floor if ever caught in a smoky room. The reason is hot air rises (which means smoke also rises). Smoke continues upwards until stopped by the ceiling. The greatest concentration of smoke residues will be on the ceiling immediately above the fire area, unless strong opposing air currents were present.
Smoke moves into adjacent rooms as the upper portion of the room fills to the doorways. Still hotter than the surrounding air, the smoke stays near ceilings and continues to migrate towards upper levels of the home, depositing smoke residues as it travels.
Heat lines may be visible in rooms where the fire was very hot. Above the heat line, residues are more difficult to remove because heat opens up pores in surfaces allowing deeper penetration (heat makes materials expand). Aerosols and residues can be literally baked on.
In smaller fires, rooms at levels lower than the source of the fire may have little smoke damage. Ventilating the home immediately will also reduce damage to lower levels. Otherwise, as the air cools and falls, it may carry some residues and odors to all parts of the home.
As the temperature of air rises, the pressure that air exerts on surfaces increases. To be precise, as the air temperature increases by 10°F, the pressure increases and the volume of the air double. This means that the hotter the fire, the harder smoke is forced against surfaces. This explains the concept of driven smoke and free floating smoke.
Hot smoke moves by pressurized air with force and is, therefore, called driven smoke. As hot smoke collides with surfaces, it deposits residues and is the cause for soot residues on vertical surfaces.
Cold smoke was once hot and pressurized, but lost its force as it cooled. Cold smoke is called free floating smoke because it floats through the building until gravity causes it to settle on horizontal surfaces.
Hot smoke tends to move toward colder surfaces. This principle, expressed as hot goes to cold, results from convection currents—as hot air rises, the cooler air around cold surfaces falls and is replaced by warm, smoky air contacting the cooler surface. Hot smoke, therefore, migrates toward the colder surfaces of outside walls and windows, closed drawers, closets, and unheated rooms. As hot smoke migrates, it deposits residues more heavily around colder surfaces. If walls are well insulated, windows provide a substantial temperature difference so that air currents may concentrate in that area. This difference in temperature (called a temperature differential) around a window causes a heavier deposit of tar and smoke residue on the back of draperies than on the front. Closets receive surprising concentrations of residue because they are cooler than the room interiors.
Two more factors of smoke behavior deal with smoke leaving residues as it moves through a building—arrangement of building space and ionization (magnetism). As smoke travels from the source, it flows around building obstructions with the air current that carries it. Each obstruction tends to pick up smoke residues from the air as it passes by, acting as a filter. The farther smoke travels from its source, the fewer residues it contains as they are filtered out by contacting building obstructions.
Smoke follows airflow patterns through a building, spreading residues within the structure. Convection currents often follow the direction of heating mains and tubing in homes where hot water heating is installed. Smoke flows upward through openings cut for water pipes. Convection currents continue upward behind radiators resulting in heavier deposits on walls immediately above these units.
Some areas in a building receive more smoke residues than other areas due to the airflow pattern through the building. The cavity above a suspended ceiling may also serve as an air return and have heavier smoke deposits than the finished ceiling beneath. This cavity can also spread residues to a wider area of the building. Since air tends to flow in smooth curves, it bypasses sharp angles and shallow cavities. Corners formed by the junctions of ceilings and walls receive less smoke than adjacent areas.
Smoke can work its way around some obstructions. Rooms that were closed off may have surprising concentrations of residue. Remember: Closed doors cannot stop smoke! You may notice heavy residue concentrations under or around closed doors, around cracks, and around the edges of carpets. As smoke flows around and through cracks, it deposits heavier residue concentrations. Generally, smoke concentrations will be present on the far side of door openings and ceilings immediately above them. Also, drawer interiors and other seemingly inaccessible areas can attract smoke.
Some areas of a building’s space actually provide shortcuts that carry smoke to areas that otherwise might have received little or no residue. For example, air currents may flow within the HVAC ductwork even if the blower is not operating. If forced air heat or air conditioning is operating, air returns, registers, and walls and ceilings near them will show a greater concentration of residue.
Generally, smoke residues are less concentrated in building areas farther from the source of the fire. The longer a fire continues, however, the more evenly distributed smoke will become throughout the structure. As long as the fire continues to heat the air, circulation patterns are created by hot air rising and cool air falls. All the air in a building will eventually become involved in this circulation, even air in basements and lower levels.
Ionization refers to smoke particles (especially those from burning plastics) that become electrically charged. Since opposite electrical charges attract, smoke residues with strong charges may be attracted to surfaces with the opposite electrical charge.
This charge is present in many synthetic fibers and plastics in general. A synthetic lampshade will frequently attract noticeable concentrations of residue, while a silk or paper shade sitting next to it remains unaffected. A plastic dry-cleaning bag covering clothes also attracts more residues than an unprotected cotton dress hanging beside it.
Due to ionization, you may see smoke webs on surfaces in a structure. Residues (such as from burning plastics or the soot from some furnace disorders) may form long chains of ionized smoke particles that assemble in corners or at junctions of walls and ceilings. Smoke webs look exactly like cobwebs, but homeowners are happy to learn they are actually smoke webs.
Ionized smoke particles cluster on metal surfaces just as metal filings cluster on a magnet. Through magnetism, charged smoke particles are attracted to metal surfaces such as plumbing pipes and coat hangers. Nail heads that are invisible beneath drywall become clearly outlined by smoke because their magnetic attraction remains effective despite the covering of paint and plaster. This is often referred to as nail pops, but the statement is misleading since the nails are still in place; it just looks like they have come to the surface.
These are just some fire damage facts that you should be aware of if you ever encounter this problem. Always ask your restoration contract questions and keep asking them till you feel comfortable with them. Remember it is your decision who you use to restore your home and no one else they can only make suggestions.
Please take a look at our website for more information. www.SERVPROmarlborotintonfalls.com