Many homeowners are not aware of the dangers and expenses that are associated with soot damage. It’s a lot more common than you think! Soot is defined as a “black substance formed by combustion or separated from fuel during combustion, rising in fine particles, and adhering to the sides of the chimney or pipe conveying the smoke”. Soot is not only caused by fires but can also collect when your furnace has a “puff back”. When soot is present in your property, it is extremely important to contact a restoration company right away once you see any sort of soot or smoke damage to protect your property and your health.
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What Is Soot?
Soot is made up of multiple materials such as foams, fabrics, paint, plastics, wool, wood, coal, oils, or other synthetic fibers. The particles are extremely small, even smaller than sand granules! Soot forms when these materials aren’t completely combusted during a fire or when your furnace, water heater, or boiler puffs back.
What Are the Types of Soot?
- Dry Soot
- This type of soot is very oxygen-rich which means it occurs when there is a very hot fire. It is composed of natural materials and cause more damage to surfaces than other kinds of soot. The smell is not very harsh. It is very difficult to clean as the particles are minuscule and can hide within porous surfaces and cracks.
- Wet Soot
- This occurs when low heat fires are oxygen-starved. It has high moisture content and can be composed of plastics, rubbers, and oils. It has a very strong smell and can be smeared very easily. You can tell if you have wet soot if you run your finger across a soot-covered surface and it smears. If it doesn’t, it is dry soot.
- Oily Soot
- Oily soot comes from puff backs and can attach to every surface. A puff back is a small explosion inside the burner chamber of your furnace when there is excess fuel that ignites. This causes smoke and soot to shoot into your home. If your gas or oil furnace is not properly maintained, you are at risk of this expensive and dangerous puff back to occur.
- Protein Soot
- When cooking, protein soot can occur and is virtually invisible to the naked eye. Kitchen fires may cause this and since it is difficult to see, the pungent smell can be a good sign that you have protein soot on your property. This kind of soot can discolor your paint and be very expensive to clean.
How Does Soot Damage Occur?
The most apparent cause of soot damage to your property would be a fire. Unfortunately, fires don’t just cause fire damage but it will also cause smoke damage, soot damage, water damage, and potentially mold damage. Soot damage can also occur due to: poorly ventilated fireplaces, defective furnaces, smoking indoors, cooking, and use of candles. It is critical to keep your chimney and your stove’s ventilation hood cleaned and up to date as they can cause your home to be damaged by soot.
How Is Soot Damage Dangerous?
Soot is not always visible to the naked eye; however, it can cause numerous adverse health issues. Tiny particles of soot can be inhaled into the lungs. These particles are toxic and can cause many respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, COPD, and other severe respiratory illnesses that can hinder your activities of daily living.
Exposure to soot can also cause cancer and carbon monoxide poisoning. Soot can contain ammonia, tar, hydrogen chloride, sulfide, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, ketones, carboxylic acids, and hundreds of other chemicals that can cause deadly illnesses. It is vital to have your property cleaned to ensure the health and safety of your family and friends.
How Is Soot Damage Cleaned?
- Air scrubbers with HEPA filters are placed in the building and ducted to the exterior to purify the air.
- Chemical sponges are used to test building materials to see if soot is present. Insurance companies do not use these sponges. Soot is not always present to the naked eye.
- Thermal fogging is performed to clean the air and is an effective smoke odor remover because it recreates the fire-related properties of heat and pressurization. Porous materials pick up thermally activated deodorant droplets in the same manner in which they picked up the smoke odors, closely duplicating what occurs during a fire.
- We use multiple cleaning products/deodorizers to clean hard surface items.
- Proper containment is set up.
- When soot affects your clothing or electronics, we partner with CRDN to make sure it is thoroughly cleaned. If it cannot be cleaned, we recommend that it be discarded and replaced.
- Rhode Island Restoration, our sister company, is extremely meticulous when cleaning your property after you’ve experienced soot damage as any particles left behind can cause abhorrent health issues.
What Can Soot Damage on Your Property?
Soot can damage your dwelling:
- The entire house must be properly cleaned: walls, ceilings, floors.
- Walls and ceilings must be painted in order to properly seal the affected areas.
- Any porous building materials e. carpets, ceiling tiles, insulation, etc. that are affected must be replaced.
- Porous personal items such as rugs, couches, sofas, mattresses, pillows, etc. must be professionally cleaned or replaced.
- Hard surface personal property must be cleaned.
- Soot is corrosive in nature and can permanently damage.
- Soot can seep into electronics and cause them to short circuit.
What Do I Do After Soot Damage?
It is important to call a professional soot damage restoration company as soon as possible as soot is corrosive and will cause the items and surfaces it accumulates on to deteriorate over time. Soot cannot be safely cleaned on your own, leave it to the professionals at our sister company, Rhode Island Restoration, to get the job done! Soot damage in can become very expensive to deal with so it is very important to submit a claim to your insurance company in order to get the damages covered.
Already had the damage cleaned? Call the best public adjusters for soot damage, Performance Adjusting at 401-724-9111 to get the most money for your fire, smoke, or soot damage insurance claim!
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