Many homeowners and business owners simply paint over charred walls after a fire. But this is a mistake, as chemicals released by fire and smoke can linger until the damaged materials are removed. If you’re buying a home or moving into a new office building, you’ll want to look for the signs of past smoke damage.
Understanding the effects that smoke damage can have on building materials and your health will help you see why it’s important not to delay scheduling the necessary smoke damage removal services.
How to Recognize Smoke Damage
Unless you were occupying a residence or business when the fire occurred, it could be difficult to identify the presence of smoke damage. While paint or tiles conceal smoke damage, you can still look for a few telltale signs.
Some common indications of smoke damage include:
- Thick, yellowish discoloration behind outlet covers and lighting fixtures
- Smoky or musty odors
- A sticky coating on plumbing pipes and electrical wiring
While searching for smoke damage, you’ll need to look closely. The previous owner or occupant might have hidden the damage from you, likely for aesthetic reasons. They might not even be aware of the hazards it can cause.
Know the Effects of Smoke Damage
Smoke damage can affect your physical health and the appearance of your home or office. Here are a few dangers associated with living or working in a smoke-damaged environment.
1. Respiratory Problems
Even if you didn’t inhale smoke during the fire, the smoke-damaged surfaces in your home or office could still affect your lung function, especially if you suffer from asthma or another pre-existing respiratory condition.
The chemicals in smoke residue can also adversely affect air quality in the home or office. Open windows, HVAC systems, and electric fans can stir up these particles and circulate them in the air.
2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
While just about everyone knows that smoking cigarettes can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), not many people realize that exposure to smoke damage can have the same results, only faster.
The more soot particles you inhale in areas with smoke damage, the higher your risk of developing COPD. People with this condition, in turn, have a higher risk of developing more serious conditions like lung disease and lung cancer.
3. External Physical Effects
Smoke damage can lead to dry eyes and inflammation of the outer layer of the skin. If you’re experiencing skin problems or eye irritation, look for signs of smoke damage in your home or office. Hiring a smoke damage removal service can help you alleviate these symptoms.
4. Electrical Wiring Damage
Even if a section of wiring doesn’t appear damaged, extreme heat may have caused the insulated wires to melt or fuse together. It’s a good idea to test the electrical system in your home or office to determine whether you’ll need to replace wiring segments.
5. Plumbing Pipe Damage
Heat can also adversely affect your plumbing. Plastic pipes, for example, may melt and become warped, eventually leading to leaks and water damage.
Damage to metal pipes is more difficult to spot. The metal will expand with heat exposure and contract as the temperature drops. Rapid expansion and contraction can warp joints and loosen seals, creating leaks.
6. Structural Damage
The chemicals released through smoke can degrade the wood structure of your home or office building. The smoke might have weakened them considerably even if the joists, beams, and other areas weren’t affected by the fire. Structurally unsound framing can lead to major problems if the smoke-damaged materials aren’t replaced.
An experienced team specializing in smoke damage removal will be able to identify where smoke and soot have damaged the structure of the building and take corrective action right away.
Prepare for the Unexpected
While you can’t predict when a fire will break out, you can be ready to restore your home or business by knowing what you’ll do if one occurs.
Draft a detailed response plan on your device or email account and ensure you have access to it in an emergency. Your response plan should include the names and numbers of businesses that provide restoration services so you can act quickly to make your space safe to inhabit once again.