Top DIY ideas to clean a home after a fire hazard

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Top DIY ideas to clean a home after a fire hazard

Remodelling a house after a fire hazard is a challenging task. Not only do you have to deal with the damage loss but also renovate the home to make it liveable again. 99acres shares simple Do-it-yourself (DIY) tips to make the cleaning process easier.

Fire accident is considered to be the worst damage in a house. Apart from causing physical loss of property, it also poses a greater risk to you and your family. Even though the firefighters douse the fire successfully, you have to deal with problems such as smoke, soot and cleaning up the water and chemicals which were used by them. Before you think of dealing with the problems that occur after the fire is extinguished, you need to know about two things - soot and odour which arise from a smoke.

Soot and Charring

Smoke damage causes black marks and stain on your walls and ceiling. Soot is the residue left after the smoke. Charring is caused when the paint burns.

Ajay Agarwal, Chairman, Geopreneur Group shares that soot has hazardous substances that cause respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis. Soot also combines with air and causes acid rains which worsen the quality of water. Overall, the damage that soot causes is not just restricted to the area that was affected by the fire but affect the environment outside as well. There are studies supporting the same too.

Hence, you should first check the level of the damage and decide whether cleaning is a reasonable option. You can initially start by using your vacuum cleaner to clear the soft soot present on the surface. However, to undertake  a deep cleaning process, you will need Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) solution*, large sponge, 2 large buckets, warm water, rubber gloves, goggles, mask, and clean rags.

  1. Dissolve a handful of solution in buckets of warm water
  2. Wear rubber gloves and goggles and wet the sponge in the water-TSP solution. Start by wiping one section at a time. Continue till the entire area has been fully washed and rinsed.

Ensure that the walls are not over saturated or water is not seeping through the walls. If these steps do not completely remove the stains, then you might need to go for priming* and painting of your walls again.

However, Agarwal suggests that it is extremely important that the people who are assigned this task are well equipped and do not expose themselves to the soot directly to avoid health hazards. Safety Goggles, masks to cover up the nose and mouth and gloves are must-haves.

How to get rid of the smoke odour

Apart from soot and charring, once you enter the burnt home, you can smell an unpleasant odour which is caused by smoke. It is not visible but can quickly get into your carpets, draperies, furnishings, etc.

To eliminate the odour, experts recommend keeping the windows and doors open as the fresh air can dissipate the smell or use white vinegar or baking soda or Febreze as they are natural odour absorbers. You can wipe the affected areas with vinegar or sprinkle baking soda and Febreze (air freshener) in the affected areas.

However, Sumeet Aggarwal of Homzkraft suggests the above methods are not effective. Alternatively, you can use activate charcoal as it is a detoxifying agent and can absorb the smoke quickly. You can place a bowl of charcoal in powdered form in your rooms. Further, many ozone generators* are available for use, however, they are very expensive. 

While the fire restoration principles may look simple, but it requires a lot of experience and personnel to do it satisfactorily, and this means that it should not be done by a homeowner but an expert. However, Aggarwal shares that many people do not prefer to call a smoke damage specialist as the process can prove to be very costly and dangerous. At the same time, many organizations have come up with environmental-friendly smoke elimination measures.

Terminology explained

* Priming: A preparatory coating put on materials before painting. It ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface, increases paint durability, and provides additional protection for the material being painted.

*Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) solution: A strong chemical typically used as a cleaning agent, food additive, stain remover and degreaser. Commonly sold as a white powder, TSP is also known as trisodium orthophosphate or sodium phosphate.

*Ozone generators: Use to rid a room or space of mold and mildew as well as strong smoke and odors. Germs and bacteria are destroyed without leaving any chemical or hazardous by-products behind.

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