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The Different Types of Smoke Damage

The Serious Health Hazards of Smoke Damage

The downsides of smoke damage can continue long after the flames extinguish. Smoke can damage and discolor pretty much any material in your home, including:

  • Metal, glass, & marble
  • Floors, counters, & ceilings
  • Furnishings & fabrics
  • Porous materials
  • Wood, linoleum, & plaster
  • And much more

More importantly, lingering smoke can pose significant health hazards, exposing you and your loved ones to microscopic particles that can inflict lung damage. These adverse effects are due to combustion creating chemical irritants (Ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and chlorine) that harm skin/mucous membranes and cause the respiratory tract to swell or collapse.

Persistent inhalation of smoke can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as:

  • Wheezing, chest pain, & shortness of breath
  • Stinging eyes, runny nose, & scratchy throat
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes & discoloration (due to oxygen deprivation or carbon monoxide exposure)
  • Decreased alertness, confusion, & fainting
  • Coughing, hoarseness, & asthma attacks

The symptoms can lead to and/or exacerbate numerous diseases, including:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis

Identifying Smoke & Soot Damage

After a fire, it is wise to identify the type of smoke damage to avoid further property damage and health hazards. Soot & smoke residue contains several different kinds of corrosive acids. These acids can become absorbed into clothing, furniture, and household items, where they will continue to irritate your skin, discolor/etch household items/surfaces, and harm your health.

The three primary kinds of smoke damage include dry, wet, and oily smoke. All three can lead to long-term consequences for your health and home. They also require different mitigation approaches.

The Aftereffects of Dry Smoke

Dry smoke results from hot, fast-burning materials such as paper, wood, and cotton. It often leaves behind a powdery residue that is less sticky and easier to clean than the residue of wet or oily smoke. The downside of dry smoke is its powdery residue can easily nestle within cracks and porous materials where it is hard to reach and clean. It is also very abrasive – scratching marble and glass, staining fabrics/semi-porous surfaces, and causing acidic etching.

The Causes & Consequences of Wet Smoke

Wet smoke is usually a byproduct of smoldering fires, which leaves many materials partially unburned due to the low heat. These unburned materials can thicken the air with a smelly burning odor and sticky soot/black smoke. This smoke will smear surfaces with a hard-to-clean residue.

The Heightened Dangers of Oily Smoke

Oily smoke is primarily caused by fires started by a fuel source, such as petroleum. This smoke damage is commonplace with commercial properties that use flammable fuels, such as car mechanics, auto garages, and printing companies. Luckily, oily smoke is quite rare with home fires because fuel smoke can cause various adverse health effects (nausea, vomiting, confusion, nose and throat irritation, dizziness, etc.). Nevertheless, residential properties with a furnace can also be at risk. Even without a fire, a home furnace can expel dense smoke and soot residue in a puff-back. This residue is harsh-smelling, sticky, toxic, and very difficult to clean.

The Unique Problems Of Protein Smoke

Protein smoke is a more common type of oily smoke residue caused by cooking-related fires. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and often leaves an odorous yet largely invisible residue. When protein-rich organic matter (i.e., animal fat) catches fire, the food will decompose into a mist that can spread across surfaces and penetrate porous tiles and grout. It can also seep into fabrics, rugs, clothing, and carpets – leaving a stinky and sticky residue.

Handle Smoke Damage the Right Way: Hire a Professional

We highly recommend calling in a smoke damage expert – regardless of the type of smoke damage you experience. Quickly addressing the damage is essential when salvaging treasured goods and safeguarding your health. When left untreated, smoke damage can cause continual damage to your health and home.

Fortunately, ServiceMaster of Colorado Springs is ready to help restore your home by removing, cleaning, or replacing any items or infrastructure affected by smoke damage. We will determine what is salvageable and then proceed with smoke damage mitigation and cleanup services.

Our specialized cleaners utilize best-in-class tools and techniques to break up and remove smoke residue on hard and porous surfaces. We are here to help you recover, repair, and restore your home by removing the stealthy, destructive residue of smoke and soot effectively.

Don’t hesitate another second if you are dealing with smoke damage! Contact ServiceMaster of Colorado Springs online or give us a call at (719) 356-3189!