Fire Damage Cleanup 3

Fire Damage Clean up

The topic of this page will be where to start.

It is important to remember that when you are dealing with a professional restoration service there will be a lot of things happening at one time by several different crews, but if you intend to go it alone you will have to prioritize.

I am not a huge advocate of the go-it-alone approach unless the damage is very minimal. There are simply to many things that need to be happening at one time. I do however understand that in some cases there may not be a choice.

What First?

What first?

As I indicated in my first page of this series Safety and Security. Be certain that the structure is secure and that it cannot easily be entered by unwanted intruders.

Secure and protect your belongings. If you can, move possesions to an undamged part of the structure and use the guidlines I have given in my first page to temporarily protect them until they can be dealt with at a later time. If this is not possible then I recomend renting a portable storage unit if you have space or a conventional storage unit if you do not. While freezing water soaked content is easy in the winter it may not be so easy the rest of the year. If you are not able to freeze content to deal with at a later time you will need to spread it out and dry it using dehumidifiers and air movers.

Evaluate the damge of the structure and make a plan using the guidlines I have given in page two, of this series.

Done that

Now what?

If there is any carpeting in the building you are planning to try and save you will need to cover it with a sturdy painters plastic. Carpets are the last thing done and you will still need to be able to move about on them without creating further damage.

Debri Removal. Depending on the size of the project it is likely that you will need to rent a debri dumpster of some sort. Contact your normal garbage collection service to set this up. It is important to remove as much debri as you can so that you can start the process of drying the structure.


Drying the structure


To dry the structure you intend to salvage, you will need industrial air movers, dehumidifiers, a gasoline generator if the electric has been shut off, an anti microbial agent (like bleach or Micro-ban) and a garden pump sprayer. All of these items can be rented through your local equipment rental shops or purchased at minimal cost.

You will need to spray any surface that is wet with your anti microbial agent, Be careful if you have choosen to use bleach as it will damage some non color safe items.

As indicated in the diagram you will need to drill holes at the base and top of every wall you intend to salvage to allow air flow inside the wall. These holes will need to be about 3/4 inch in diameter and placed between each stud. You will need 1 air mover for each wall and 1 dehumidifier for each room.

The drying process could take several days and will need to be monitored frequently for mold and mildew growth. If you see the onset of mold or mildew wash or spray the area again with anti microbial agent.


After you have dried the structure you can begin demolition. As I outlined in

When starting any job like this please use all available safety equipment and precautions. Safety glasses, dust masks or respirators, heavy work gloves, safety shoes and clothing that will provide protection for your arms and legs. Also be sure your work area has plenty of ventilation. Do not use open flamed heating equipment as dust is extremely combustible.

Some demolition may require precise cutting of a small area of wall or ceiling. This is relatively easy with drywall but if your structure is old enough to have plaster it will not be so easy. When you cut away a portion of plaster or dry wall remember that you need some place to attach the replacement patch material to. For this reason you will need to enlarge the area to the next viable beam or stud. It is best to use hand tools such as drywall knives, hammers, and chisels on drywall but you may need a sawsall to cut the lathing strips behind plaster.

Remove domolition debri as you go. allowing it to build up makes for much more work laer and also creates a safety issue for workers.

Prepare to rebuild

The next step will be to scrape char off of any beam or stud you intend to save. Using a paint scrapper scrape any burnt area of wood until all the char is gone. again use safety glasses and a dust mask to do this. This is a dirty job and you will be completely covered in soot and ash until you are done but the majority of building codes will not permit you to affix new wood to old wood until this is done.

Remove all wall paper. There are special tools and chemicals that can be purchased at you local paint store for this but if you are looking to save some money the same job can be done with a paint scrapper, a spray bottle and a gallon of white vinegar. First score the paper with the scrapper (be careful not to cut into the wall), then spray vinegar onto a 4'x4' section allow to stand a few minutes the scrape paper from the wall.

Even though not everything in your house is damaged it will all require cleaning. Every wall, ceiling, window, door, and structure accessory will need to be cleaned To do this you will first need to go over everything with a chem sponge to remove soot and dust. Next you will need to wash everything with a degreaser and odor remover solution. Everything includes bathtub, stove, cabinets, walls ceilings floors, etc.

After everything has been cleaned the next step is to paint all areas that are being rebuilt with 2 coats of Bin or Killz.These are shellac based paint that will help to seal in the smoke odor. It is used like a primer coat. It can be rolled or brushed on but if you need to cover large areas it might be best to use a paint sprayer.

Bring on the carpenter

 I am not a carpenter so sadly this is where my advice will end. From this point on the job is like any other re-model. If you need to have assistance with this most local contractors are more than quallified to handle the job from here.

Sadly if you find yourself in need of the information I have provided in this series it is because you have suffered some kind of damage. I know that there are things that you may run into that I have not covered here, if that is the case please feel free to e-mail me through the contact button above

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Comments 4 comments

Ken 6 years ago

Hi Ohma,

My RV caught fire Easter morning and subsequently cased some fire, water and smoke damaged the top of my garage the contents. The restoration company convinced me I needed to get the contents out immediately for inventory and cleaning. I find out 4 weeks later that no cleaning has been done. What is a reasonable time to get the items clean before it's irreversible?

Thank you!

Ohma profile image

Ohma 6 years ago Author

Truthfully it depends on what kind of content we are talking about. I would love to be able to advise you better than that and will if you can provide more detailed information. Feel free to use the contact Ohma link below my profile to send me an e-mail.

waynet profile image

waynet 6 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

Hi there Ohma your hubs are well written, so no problems there, when you link it would be more beneficial to you to link to keyword phrases, ie: highlight them and click the chain icon and paste the relevant url in there, this helps more than just the full hubpage links like you have done here.

This is a good hub series and what a hub series should be, well done!

Ohma profile image

Ohma 6 years ago Author


Thank you for your observations. I will try and include some more relevant links to this.

Thank-you for being so helpful.

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