Smoke/soot is the product of incomplete combustion. It is made visible through the presence of small particles of carbon. Smoke damage can affect your home in a number of ways.
The fire that causes smoke and soot is non-discriminatory in that it will burn anything which can be burned. Besides the residue that is created through a fire, when there is a structure that has a variety of different flammable materials such as particle board, wood, plastic laminate, vinyl, etc., the combination of these substances can produce very complex odors.
Three Categories of Smoke Residue and Odors
Smoke odors can normally be classified into three categories. These categories also need customized deodorization to restore them:
- Protein Odors – These are produced from burned meat, flesh and poultry.
The residue is identifiable by a brownish or yellowish color and has a greasy texture. Odor removal and deodorization usually entails a complete cleaning of the affected surfaces.
- Natural Substance Odors – Natural burned substances include paper, wood, jute, cork, feathers, and wool, anything that has a plant or an animal hair source. Identification is made through a gray/black residue that has a dry, powdery consistency.
- Synthetic Substance Odors – Synthetic (man-made) burned substances encompass burned plastics and textiles. Residues from these substances are black in color and smudge easily since they come from petroleum-based sources. Burned synthetic residue can create smoke webs visible where walls and corners meet the ceiling and in streamers handing from curtain rods. These smoke webs are called soot tags.
NOTE: Soot tags are often misidentified as “spider webs” which supposedly became visible because of the smoke/soot residue.
Five Factors That Influence Smoke
There are five factors that influence smoke damage and can affect the related surfaces:
- Heat – Warmed or heated air rises and migrates to cold areas such as outside walls and closets. Heat causes pores in surfaces to expand which then readily accepts the smoke residue and odor.
- Pressure – The energy created by the fire produces heat which enables the smoke to penetrate into the most minute cracks and crevices.
- Impingement – Burned objects can hit another surface with sufficient velocity so that it will impinge (or splatter) and remain on the surface. (Think of candle wax.)
- Magnetism – Smoke is attracted to metal surfaces such as plumbing pipes, nail heads and metal coat hangers.
- Ionization – Opposites attract so smoke webs may form on structural surfaces. Plastic bags on clothing from dry cleaners retain electrical charges which attract smoke. More smoke damage can be found on clothing inside plastic bags in a closet as opposed to unprotected clothing!!!
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