Even the smallest fire can wreak havoc on your business. If you don't take prompt action after the flames have been put out, smoke damage can lead to lasting repercussions that span far beyond any damage you can visibly see on the surface. Smoke and soot contain high levels of acidity that can harm almost any material, making smoke damage repair a time-sensitive process. Find out how smoke damage can impact your business, especially if it isn't cleaned up quickly and thoroughly, with tips from ServiceMaster Restore®.
Smoke damage timeline
Minutes after a fire breaks out in your commercial building, soot begins to destroy your property. That's why it's crucial to call in restoration experts as soon as the fire is extinguished. The longer you wait, the more loss your business may have.
Follow this timeline to determine what happens to your business items when smoke has a chance to permeate the building:
- Minutes: Soot and smoke can leave a yellow stain on your walls and items made with plastic, marble and other porous materials.
- Hours: The acidity content in soot could cause metal objects, grout and other materials to become permanently tarnished or stained.
- Days: By this time, your walls may be permanently yellow. Metals can corrode or rust. Wooden furniture may be destroyed. Flooring, upholstery, cubicles and other items made with fabric will have to be replaced.
- Weeks: When soot damage has a chance to permeate through your materials, it can cause permanent corrosion and even release toxic fumes into the air. Office supplies, office furniture and electronic equipment exposed to smoke damage may need to be thrown out and replaced.
What to do after the fire is out
Once the fire has been put out and everyone in the building is safe and accounted for, it’s time to begin the clean-up and restoration process. First and foremost, file a smoke damage insurance claim with your company’s insurance provider. Confirm with your agent if there are any filing deadlines to ensure you get everything submitted on time.
After filing a claim, call a restoration company like ServiceMaster Restore for commercial smoke damage and soot removal services. By acting fast, restoration experts can mitigate severe losses that your company may face. When they arrive on scene, you can expect our trained technicians to provide the following services:
- Evaluate all of your furniture and equipment to assess whether damage is reversible.
- Work with you to create a comprehensive remediation plan.
- Thoroughly clean each of your items and surfaces.
- Use specialized equipment and chemicals to eliminate the smell of smoke.
- Seal surfaces to prevent the risk of recontamination.
How to reduce smoke odors in your building
Following a fire, there are a few steps you can take before the restoration experts get there to minimize costly damage to your business. Once officials say it's safe to enter your building, you can attempt to reduce the smell of smoke odors in your business by doing the following tasks:
- Open all doors and windows to air out the building, if the temperature is above 60 degrees.
- Replace the air filters on your furnace if it uses forced air.
- Tape cheesecloth over returns and supply registers to capture loose soot floating in the air.
While you’re completing these tasks, keep in mind that there are some things you should avoid doing to prevent additional damage. While you attempt to reduce smoke odors in your building, do not do the following tasks:
- Do not touch anything in the building with your bare hands. Oils from your skin can permeate through materials like upholstery, walls and woodwork, leading to extensive damage.
- Do not attempt to wash yellowed or damaged walls. The wrong cleaning technique could compound soot residue, so it’s best to leave the clean-up to the professionals.
Although dealing with a disaster can be stressful, know that you’re not alone. With over 65 years in the cleaning and restoration industry, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore are committed to being at your side every step of the way. Our commercial fire and smoke damage removal services include expert processes for electronics restoration, document and data recovery, smoke and odor removal and more to completely restore your company back to its pre-loss conditions. We’ll even guide you through every step of our process to ensure you can get back to business as usual right away.