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The restoration experts share everything you need to know about smoke damage in your home. 

Are you recovering from a fire in your home?

Because the fire is out, it doesn’t mean the damage is done.

A surprising amount of damage from fire isn’t caused by the fire itself but by the smoke residue.

To make matters worse, soot and smoke damage can worsen even after the flames are out.

This blog examines how smoke damage impacts your home and how to deal with it.


Understanding smoke

Smoke can affect areas untouched by flames, spreading to unaffected rooms and causing further damage.

A lot of the harm from smoke is down to the fact that it brings high temperatures from the fire, but that is not the only reason the smoke is harmful – there is also the acidic content to consider.

According to a study from Michigan State University, between the heat and the corrosive properties, smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death for indoor fires and one of the biggest obstacles to getting your home and your life back in order following a fire.

Soot

Furthermore, where there is smoke, there’s usually soot.

Soot is another by-product of fires.

It is a powder-like or greasy substance comprised primarily of carbon.

Soot presents many health hazards, and prolonged exposure carries a risk of cancer, including skin cancer and cancer of the oesophagus, lungs, and bladder.

It’s one of the reasons that diesel exhaust is dangerous, and it’s responsible for over a quarter of hazardous air pollution on Earth.

Long story short, you don’t want soot in your home.

Smoke and soot can affect your home’s structure and belongings alike.

It’s different from the harm that fire causes, and fixing it can be one of the most lasting and strenuous aspects of fire damage clean-up.


How does smoke affect your home?

Acids

Smoke often contains several different acids.

The makeup may vary depending on the fire that caused it, but you can usually count on acids related to carbon and sulphur.

However, scientists are still making discoveries about what smoke is made of.

As recently as 2011, researchers discovered a kind of acid in smoke that they hadn’t previously known about. And even smoke that isn’t acidic can still cause harm.

Corrosion and metal damage

One glaring effect that smoke can have is on the metal in your home.

Depending on the kind of smoke and type of metal, effects can range from tarnishing to outright corrosion.

Smoke can affect many parts of your home, from small details like doorknobs and kitchen fittings to the structural elements and pipes.

Corroded pipes, in particular, are dangerous due to being at risk of leaking and causing further damage from water.

Porous material damage

Smoke also causes permanent discolouration of porous materials often used in home construction.

This includes plastics and marble that may be used in countertops or tiles – all of which can start to occur in just minutes.

Likewise, hardwood floors are porous, giving smoke plenty of hiding spots.

In some cases, good mopping and deodorising can work. But many times, the floor needs to be refinished or even replaced.

Even if your floors and walls aren’t porous, they may still be at risk.

Smoke odour and permanent stains can set in on walls and synthetic carpets.

Acidic residues left behind may eat away at wall coverings like paint or wallpaper.

DIY: Reducing damage

You can do a little to reduce the harm on your own.

To start, rub any affected metal surfaces with olive oil or vegetable oil and leave it there.

This isn’t a long-term solution, but it will slow or prevent pitting and discolouration until professionals can arrive for a professional cleaning.


Items commonly damaged by smoke:

Carpets and rugs

Carpets and rugs made of synthetics may be permanently stained in a matter of days.

Cleaning is often possible if the carpets aren’t damaged by heat, water, or any chemical agents used to fight the fire.

But the cleaning must be done before the damage becomes permanent.

Curtains and upholstery

Curtains and upholstery can similarly become yellow.

Cleaning fabrics often requires special tools like alkaline cleaners since trying to vacuum these things can spread soot instead of cleaning them.

It’s best to call in experts who know how to clean smoke damage

Furniture

Smoke can harm your furniture, whether made of porous wood or corrodible metal.

Like upholstery, the other parts of your furniture are at risk if you use the wrong cleaning agent.

It’s easy to damage varnishes, paints, and wood stains when trying to clean smoke damage, just as it’s easy to rust metal.

Clothing

Soot can be stuck in clothing, like other fabrics around the home.

Like those other fabrics, they may require special cleaning techniques and solutions, and time is still of the essence before staining becomes permanent.

Tossing clothing into the washing machine may cause a smoke odour to set, and it may not get the sooty oil out of your clothing.

Chemicals left behind in soot can cause skin irritation, making it all the more important to get them cleaned thoroughly, promptly, and professionally.

Some dry cleaners will handle smoke-damaged clothes, but not all do.

Appliances

The corrosive effects of smoke extend to the inside and outside of your appliances.

Smoke odour can permeate the interior of your fridge and other appliances, and the caustic effects of smoke residue can damage the electrical systems.

Plastic

Plastic is highly porous, so it collects more soot than anything else in your home.

Plastics will start discolouring in minutes.

If possible, wipe them down with an alkaline cleaning solution.

Most things should wait for professionals, but if you can act on your plastic, do so quickly.

Porcelain

Porcelain, like bathroom fixtures, can discolour within hours if not cleaned.

Wipe residue away to prevent etching.

You may also want to wash it with soap.

Both measures can buy you some time before the professionals come in.


How to clean smoke damage

Depending on the material, you have anywhere from minutes to days to begin smoke damage restoration.

Generally, the sooner you can deal with it, the better.

But there is a list of priorities.

Some materials are more resistant to soot than others, and time is precious when cleaning up after a fire.

The best thing is to call in the experts, but in the meantime, here are some tips:

Within minutes

  • Wash as much porous material as you can.
  • Clean porous floorings like tile, marble, wood, plastic and PVC.

Damage to these materials becomes irreversible very quickly.

  • For plastics, use an alkaline cleaner.

Within hours

  • Wipe any metal down with cooking oil to buy yourself some time for a more thorough cleaning.

The oil will act as a barrier, helping prevent further damage and rust.

  • Wood furniture may begin to lose its finish, so clean it as much as possible.
  • For finished wood, an all-purpose cleaner can help you stave off damage until the pros arrive.
  • Porcelain fixtures start staining during this time, so wipe them down and clean them with soap if possible.

Within days

You’ll start seeing permanent discolouration of fabrics like clothing, upholstery, curtains, and carpeting.

You may also start seeing discolouration on your walls, as well.

It may be tempting to vacuum these things, but most household vacuum cleaners aren’t powerful enough.

Instead of cleaning soot, they’ll transfer it to the next thing you try to vacuum.

Don’t try to wash papered or painted walls on your own, clean carpet, or touch anything sooty with your bare skin.

Instead, wear rubber gloves to prevent the oil transfer from your skin, setting the soot.

Cleaning certain things without the correct equipment can worsen the problem, and exposing your skin to soot can be a health hazard, spreading soot to other parts of your home.

As soon as possible, call restoration professionals.

Clean-up and restoration experts like ServiceMaster Restore have the right equipment, machinery and protective clothing to save as much as possible as fast as possible.


How to restore smoke damage

The salvageability of an item will depend on what it is and how quickly it is cleaned.

Many plastics and metals will likely need to be replaced.

However, a trained professional can quickly evaluate what is salvageable and what is a waste of time to restore.

Bringing in a pro isn’t just about getting the proper equipment to save your belongings.

It’s about having someone there who knows how smoke affects things and how quickly.

It is about someone who can look at the tile floor and know if it can be saved or if that time is better spent trying to save your metal appliances.

It’s about having enough hands to do both, if possible.

The fact is that getting smoke damage restoration experts into your house as soon as possible is the best way to save as much of your home as possible.


Contact ServiceMaster Restore

Fortunately, there are experts from ServiceMaster Restore available to you 24/7 on our emergency hotline, 0845 762 6828.

As leading cleaning and disaster restoration experts for over 60 years, our technicians are here to help you in whatever crisis you may be facing.

When dealing with smoke damage, there is a lot to take in.

This information may be overwhelming, but it is what we do.

For smoke damage restoration and support during a crisis, find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business today.

Meet the new owner of the brand-new ServiceMaster Restore franchise business in Bath and Bristol.

ServiceMaster Restore is a nationwide disaster restoration franchise which has operated in the UK since 1959.

The brand’s latest franchisee, Edgar Thoemmes, comes from a small business background, having set up three businesses over the last 15 years and built them to a high standard.

His latest venture, a ServiceMaster Restore franchise covering Bath and Bristol, uses his wealth of experience to oversee a less typical operation: disaster restoration.

The work of disaster restoration professionals can take many shapes.

But it’s safe to say it’s not your average day job, as it can involve cleaning and restoring properties after disasters like fire and flooding, biohazards and trauma scenes.

It is also safe to say that sometimes, we can all be guilty of harbouring some morbid curiosity around this line of work.

So much so that it has even inspired ‘The Cleaner’, a recent BBC TV show starring Greg Davies.

But what makes someone start work as a disaster restoration professional? And what does their work mean for the general public?

We sat down with Edgar and his new General Manager, Adrian Matusik, to discuss their new business and the value of their services to the local community.


Their roles

As General Manager, Adrian will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of ServiceMaster Restore Bath and Bristol, with Edgar driving the business and its expansion from a strategic point of view.

“Altogether, we bring more than 75 years of experience across different fields, which we all specialise in,” says Adrian.


Background

Adrian has been led to ServiceMaster Restore through his interest in construction.

“I’m fascinated by construction,” he says.

“How things were built 1000 years ago, a hundred years ago, and how we are going about it today.”

Naturally, Adrian’s background includes 15 years in construction management.

He began as an on-site labourer before progressing through management to become a Senior Site Manager and won multiple awards for his attention to detail and site management skills.

He says this gave him plenty of valuable expertise, which he can use in his new role.

“Construction management is all about problem-solving and being efficient and honest. My construction background will give me a wealth of knowledge to restore the product to the highest standards and ensure the customer is happy.”

“[I’m] looking to build out a team that can scale quickly, so it’s vital that we get that team in place from day one,” Edgar adds.

Therefore, he began hiring early, with Adrian being the perfect first recruit.

“[Adrian has] got so much experience [and] expertise in his area and the right attitude and hands-on approach [to] the work [and] supporting customers,” says Edgar.


What can you expect from ServiceMaster Restore?

ServiceMaster Restore is a disaster recovery and specialist cleaning company with the experience and latest equipment to handle difficult and potentially grizzly situations quickly and with understanding and compassion.

Whether it’s:

  • Leak Detection
  • Trauma cleaning
  • Fire and smoke
  • Flood and water
  • Leak detection
  • Graffiti and Vandalism
  • Mould removal and inspection

ServiceMaster Restore will help restore property damage or trauma in the first 24 hours.

“Our goal is to offer a complete end-to-end disaster recovery solution for property managers, brokers, [and] facilities managers,” Edgar says.

Because of his background, Adrian is well prepared to serve clients in the Bath and Bristol region thanks to his keen eye for detail and excellent customer skills.

“The customer is there to be helped, and we are there to help. I would like us to be associated with a positive approach,” he says.

“From the day we meet the customer, they can always count on us to ensure that they are fully taken care of and that the property is restored to the highest finish possible.”

He says he is excited to begin supporting people in the local area and delivering satisfaction to them in their time of need.

“Seeing other people in the franchise that are delivering excellent quality and seeing happy faces on customers is really exciting,” he says.

“I think it’s priceless. You’re helping people with something terrible that happened to them, and it’s like Christmas has come early for them. It’s something that has no price tag.”


Contact Us

If you need professional, compassionate and fast-acting disaster restoration services in the Bristol and Bath region and would benefit from the services and support from local experts backed by over 60 years of industry experience, contact the team at ServiceMaster Restore today on 0117 205 3507 or find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business to learn more about our coverage nationwide.

How we ensured optimal business continuity in 24 hours after substantial fire damage with ServiceMaster Restore+.  

ServiceMaster Restore in Rotherham and Barnsley recently supported a company headquarters after a severe arson attack on the property resulted in significant fire damage to the ground floor.

The property, a substantial, stone-built, double-fronted detached two-storey office building, had to halt, disrupting and hurting their operation.

This is a major issue for businesses after significant damage, as they cannot get running again in much time (if at all!)

According to the London Fire Brigade, nearly 60% of businesses never recover after a fire.

Thanks to ServiceMaster Restore Plus, which streamlines the claims processes through our network of approved and accredited professionals, we restored the business to a safe working environment in twenty-four hours!

Here’s how…


What was the damage?

Fire Damage

The arson attack heavily damaged the left side of the building, necessitating an evaluation of Beyond Economic Repair (BER) contents.

Widespread Debris and Water Damage

The front and ground floor were covered in debris, with approximately 1 inch of water mixed with fire-damaged debris.

Electrical Safety Concerns

Power was cut off by the fire brigade when assisting with the fire.


How ServiceMaster Restore Responded with a same-day callout

  1. Following the emergency callout facilitated by ServiceMaster Restore Plus, the team conducted an immediate assessment.
  2. They then efficiently removed excess water from the right-hand side of the ground floor office area and deployed drying equipment, ensuring optimal levels were maintained.
  3. They then conducted a comprehensive electrical safety test and established a temporary power supply to support drying.
  4. Following this, they cleared extensive debris inside and outside the building and performed a BER assessment of the damaged contents.
  5. To restore the floor and interior, they removed water-damaged commercial vinyl flooring.
  6. Plans were made to overboard the subfloor for restoration and to conduct decor works on skirting boards and walls.
  7. Finally, they implemented ozone generation for deodorisation and thoroughly cleaned the entire property.

The result

When the business was in danger of significant disruption and permanent damage, our swift and effective response mitigated further damage, and the business could continue trading with minimal downtime.

The interventions allowed the client to plan for a return to their offices with minimal impact on their business operations.


Want to optimise business continuity after a disaster?

Through our network of trained and accredited professionals and our swift response through Restore Plus, ServiceMaster Restore’s capability to manage complex commercial property restoration efficiently ensures the continuity of business operations following catastrophic events.

If you require professional restoration services and want to minimise disruption to your business while ensuring unparalleled restoration results, find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business today to see how we can help you in a crisis.

How to have a safe bonfire night.

It’s vital to know Bonfire Night safety tips before enjoying the celebrations.

Read on for some helpful Bonfire Night safety tips to keep you, your family and friends safe this Bonfire Night.

Did you know that thousands of out-of-control bonfires are attended by the Fire Brigade each year?

Help to keep the Fire Brigade accessible for fires that can’t be prevented by following these simple Bonfire Night safety tips:

Bonfire Safety Tips

  • Check there is no wildlife and no pets where you build your bonfire.
  • Build your bonfire clear away from buildings, sheds, fences and hedges.
  • Don’t light your bonfire with flammable liquids.
  • Don’t burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, batteries or foam-filled furniture.
  • Always have clear access to plenty of water in case you need to use it (buckets/hose pipe)
  • Never leave a bonfire unattended, and ensure it is damped out when finished.

To avoid smoke getting into your home, remember to close windows and keep doors closed.

Any clothing worn for the bonfire should ideally be washed quickly to avoid the smell entering your home.

Need smoke or fire and smoke restoration?

If you are unfortunate enough to be impacted by a spreading bonfire, call emergency services immediately.

For the aftermath and restoration, our fire and smoke damage restoration experts at ServiceMaster Restore can help.

For 24/7 professional fire and smoke restoration services, call 0845 762 6828

How to have a safe and happy BBQ this summer with ServiceMaster Restore.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, you’ve probably considered firing up the barbecue if you haven’t already.

After all, nothing says summer like the smell of burgers, steaks, and hot dogs fresh off the grill.

Until something starts burning, that is.

While barbecue grills can cook up large amounts of delicious food, they are also a fire hazard.

But don’t worry! There are easy ways to prevent injury and keep your home safe.

Keep your property out of harm’s way the next time you smoke, sizzle or sauté outside by following a few simple BBQ safety tips from ServiceMaster Restore.

Practice Good Grilling Habits

Whatever kind of barbecue you use, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk of fire or injury.

Here are some grilling safety tips to follow:

  • Set your barbecue away from structures and overhangs, including your main building, shed, garage, trees and other potentially flammable objects.
  • Never use your grill inside, in a tent, or under an outdoor awning. Doing so can pose a fire hazard and cause carbon monoxide poisoning using a gas barbecue.
  • Light any gas or charcoal BBQs using long-length lighters or long matches to avoid getting burned. Keep all ignition sources out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave an actively burning BBQ unattended.
  • Let the grill fully cool before you cover or store it.
  • Clean your barbecue thoroughly and often to reduce flammable build-up inside.

Be Aware of Proper Charcoal Barbecue Safety

Many swear by the taste of food cooked on a classic charcoal barbecue.

This method may be popular, but it also poses unique fire risks.

Keep these safety tips in mind if you own or use a charcoal barbecue:

  • Only add enough charcoal to cover the bottom of the barbecue. Don’t pile too much inside since it could cause ashes and sparks to become airborne, possibly catching nearby objects or your home on fire.
  • Store extra charcoal in a secure place away from other potential fire hazards, preferably in an airtight metal container.
  • Only use starter fluid designed for charcoal. Apply it to cold coals only, and don’t add extra once the BBQ is lit. Otherwise, the flames could get too high, resulting in possible burns or an unconfined fire.
  • Empty your used ashes only when they have cooled. Never store or dispose of them in a bin or leave them on the decking. Even when cooled, ashes can still cause a fire. Dump them on garden soil in a metal receptacle for proper disposal.

Use your Gas BBQ Wisely

Gas barbecue grills are convenient, easy to use, and require less refuelling than charcoal grills.

But they are also susceptible to fire risks. Remember these safety tips if you own a gas BBQ:

  • Open the lid before lighting the barbecue. This allows oxygen to escape and reduces the risk of fire or explosion.
  • Check the gas line and tank fittings regularly for leaks. You can do this by brushing soapy water around these areas. If you see bubbles emerge, there could be a leak somewhere. Replace damaged and leaking parts and make any other repairs before using the barbecue.
  • If you have spare gas cylinders, never store them under a stairway. Place them upright and outside, away from furniture or structures, to minimise fire risks.
  • Turn off your barbecue using the controls first, then close off the gas line at the tank to ensure gas can escape safely.

In need of fire damage restoration?

If the worst should happen and you experience a fire during the warmer months, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restore are always available to help.

We hope you never need to make that call. But if you do, we’ll be there to help with the recovery.

Find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore today or call 0845 762 6828 to see how we can help you in the aftermath.

How and why to keep your smoke alarm in good condition.

Fire alarms are vital tools for homes and businesses alike.

However, as with most technology, smoke alarms are subject to technical faults and other issues.

And given the importance of their function, they must be maintained and checked regularly.

At ServiceMaster Restore, we promise to restore your premises as close to their original condition as possible following disasters like fire.

In cases of emergency, we will be there, but these are worst-case scenarios.

To avoid disaster altogether, we’ve put together some tips on smoke alarm maintenance.

Why check your smoke alarm?

Your smoke alarm can be affected by various factors that impact its ability to alert you to potential danger.

These include:

  • Age and installation
  • Dust and dirt build-up
  • Vandalism or tampering
  • Exposures to temperature, humidity and voltage

These factors can influence your smoke alarm at any time, so regularly testing its effectiveness is essential for your home or business.

An improperly functioning smoke can be a danger to…

  1. Your safety

Perhaps the most evident reason to check your smoke alarm regularly is for the safety it provides.

Smoke alarms are designed to detect smoke before humans are likely able to.

This protects you from the threats of fire and smoke, like smoke inhalation, and ensures you can reach a safe location as quickly as possible.

Additionally, for commercial properties, most alarm systems allow emergency responders to pinpoint the location of the fire.

This allows them to maximise their safety while having a strategic approach to extinguishing the threat.

  1. Legality

For landlords and commercial properties, there are legal requirements and legislation around smoke alarm ownership.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on 1 October 2022.

From that date, all relevant landlords have been required to:

  1. Ensure at least one smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of their homes where a room is used as living accommodation.

This has been a legal requirement in the private rented sector since 2015.

  1. Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).
  2. Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once it is found that they are faulty.

Fines of up to £5’000 can be enforced if a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.

For more information, the UK Government website provides information about the requirements, to whom they apply, and how they are enforced,

  1. Protection of contents

For commercial properties, the setup and operations of businesses often require heavy investments into the site, from real estate, design, furniture and electronics, to supplies and inventory.

Proper installation and maintenance of smoke alarms help safeguard these assets from damage.

Regular maintenance of smoke detectors and fire alarm systems by certified, qualified fire safety professionals can serve to protect the people at home or work and the buildings themselves.

How to ensure your smoke alarm is in good condition

Keeping your smoke alarm in working condition is an ongoing and vital process and can be done by following some easy steps:

  • Test your smoke alarms regularly (at least monthly) by pressing the test button on each smoke alarm to ensure it’s working.
  • Replace batteries regularly – Smoke alarms should have a fresh battery installed yearly or as soon as the low-battery warning chirps.
  • Install smoke alarms in the right places – There should be a smoke alarm on every landing of every floor and in the kitchen.
  • Keep smoke alarms clean – Dust and debris can interfere with smoke alarm sensors, so vacuum your smoke alarms regularly.
  • Replace smoke alarms when necessary – Smoke alarms should be replaced every decade or sooner if damaged or ill-functioning.

In need of professional fire and smoke restoration?

Smoke alarms are in place in homes and commercial properties to try and minimise the likelihood of an incident.

But, should the worst happen and your property and its contents fall victim to fire and smoke damage, we will be there in the aftermath.

Fortunately, there are experts from ServiceMaster Restore available to you 24/7 on our emergency hotline, 0845 762 6828.

With 60 years of experience as leading experts in disaster restoration, our technicians are here to help you.

When dealing with fire and smoke damage, you might not know what to do next, but we do.

To use our smoke and fire restoration services, find your nearest ServiceMaster Restore business today.