Smoke damage is not good for your health, so finding it in your apartment is a sign to have your home thoroughly cleaned. Smoke damage happens when your apartment is damaged by the smoke instead of the fire, although it is possible to have smoke damage and fire damage.
Smoke is a combination of smoke and soot and is just as bad for your home as fire. It just affects it differently.
While flames will destroy everything in their path, smoke covers your items — including the valuable ones — in soot and smell. Smoke can be very greasy, making a layer on your fabric or furniture costly. You must replace most textiles after fire damage or smoke damage — it’s also tough to clean.
If you suspect smoke damage in your apartment, there are steps to take to ensure you salvage as much of your property as possible.
Today’s blog covers how to prove smoke damage, wash it off your walls, and tell if there’s been structural damage. Keep reading to learn what to do if your apartment has smoke damage.
Pay Attention to Structural Damage
If the fire is bad enough, that can cause structural damage. That’s why you shouldn’t enter your apartment until it’s been declared structurally safe. The soot from the smoke will only aggravate this since it contains acidic compounds that slowly destroy metals and wall cavities.
As tempting as it might be to run back to your home and see what you can salvage, it’s best to wait to ensure you don’t get injured.
Identify Smoke Damage On Your Walls
You might not know what smoke damage is at first glance. After all, if you’ve never seen it, you might not know what to look for. But once you’ve learned the signs, you’ll immediately notice smoke damage.
You’ll look for areas of your walls that look greasy or powdery. Gray, black, yellow, or brown spots on your walls all indicate smoke damage.
Prove Smoke Damage
While there are several methods you can use, a chemical sponge test is the best way to determine whether you have apartment smoke damage.
Simply wipe the chemical sponge over the area you suspect is damaged by smoke. If there’s residue on the chemical sponge, you have smoke damage that is generally very difficult to clean. Take photos of the evidence to show your insurance company!
File a Claim with Your Insurance Company
Your homeowner’s insurance will most likely cover the following:
- Smoke damage on your walls or other structural elements.
- Smoke damage to outside structures, such as fences and sheds.
- Smoke damage to your personal property, such as clothes or devices.
- Living expenses if your home isn’t safe to live in.
- Medical costs if you’re sick from inhaling smoke.
While you’ll most likely receive compensation for these situations, the amount will depend on your insurance policy since no two policies are identical.
You’ll have a deductible to pay before your insurance kicks in and a maximum amount your insurance will cover before it becomes an out-of-pocket expense. So, while you’ll have some out-of-pocket costs, having insurance will significantly reduce the total amount you pay.
You’ll need to file a claim for your insurance to cover the smoke damage. This claim involves taking photos of the damage with a high-quality camera and contacting your insurance agent. A claims adjuster will come to your apartment to assess the damage and determine how much money the insurance company will pay you for the damage.
Salvage What You Can. Toss What You Can’t
Before using your insurance money, you’ll want to salvage what you can. You won’t need to replace everything damaged by smoke, allowing you to save insurance money for what must be replaced. Generally speaking, you can salvage glass, metal, and hardwood floors.
Glass is strong and durable, and easy to clean. Use vinegar and baking soda to remove soot stains from the glass. Anything that doesn’t come off with a bit of scrubbing can be soaked in vinegar, which will also get rid of the smoke smell.
While metal might get stained, you can still clean it with vinegar and dish soap. To prevent rusting, lightly sand and paint the metal.
Hardwood floors are salvageable as long as there are no extreme charring or burn marks. You’re better off replacing the floors if the damage is that severe. But otherwise, oil soap, followed by sanding and refinishing the floors, should be enough to salvage them.
On the other hand, you’ll want to toss plastics, food, medicine, cosmetics, hygiene products, small electronics, and textiles, as it can be impossible to completely remove the soot from these items. Leftover soot is a major red flag, which can cause health problems.
Wash the Smoke Off Your Walls
Washing smoke off your walls is a great way to restore your apartment after there’s been fire damage.
If your walls are plaster, you’ll want to avoid water-based cleaning solutions, as this will cause the soot to settle into the wall instead of removing it. Instead, you’ll want to use a chemical sponge, paint thinner, or rubbing alcohol and a cloth.
If your walls are drywall, you’ll use a solution of one tablespoon of trisodium phosphate in one gallon of warm water. Be sure to wear gloves since trisodium phosphate is caustic. Wash one wall section at a time, rinsing the area well as you go.
Call Black Diamond Restoration Today
Dealing with apartment smoke damage is not fun for anyone. That’s why we recommend calling in the professionals to take the load off your shoulders. You’ve been through enough!
Black Diamond Restoration is here to restore your home. Whether you’re dealing with structural damage, ruined furniture, or floors that need cleaning, Black Diamond Restoration has the skills and expertise to get you back to normal as soon as possible.
We offer 24/7 emergency services and will work with your insurance company. Call us at 801.512.4194, or visit our website to learn more. Let Black Diamond Restoration restore your home today!