How Smoke Can Damage the Contents of Your House

by | Nov 14, 2021 | Fire Damage, Fire Damage Repairs | 0 comments

Did you know that wooden furniture, floors, and painted walls can become permanently stained if not attended in the first couple of hours after some exposure? Damage from smoke can easily go unnoticed and can impact your health and the contents of your home.

Even a small property fire can lead to significant smoke damages. Smoke and soot are the prime components of fire that can make life difficult for the concerned property owner.

The heat from the fire opens up the pores on the surface of the exposed contents, and soot gets deposited in these pores. A conglomerate of soot, water, and humidity can make the damage very aggressive. Hence, cleaning-up smoke and soot after a fire should be a priority.

Smoke constitutes of different chemical types and microscopic pollutants. The acidic nature of smoke causes it to react differently to different surfaces with which it comes in contact. So, smoke impacts each content type of your home differently.

Metal surfaces

The different acids in smoke can aggressively reactive with the metal-based on its composition. The impact could range from tarnishing to outright corrosion. While the doorknob may suffer discoloration, the metal pipes and kitchen fittings can suffer corrosion with time.

People usually overlook the corrosion of the pipes and fittings in the water supply system due to smoke, and in the long run, this can lead to water damage, which leads to mold and mildew growth.

Electrical and electronic equipment

Electrical and electronic equipment, including washing machines, refrigerators, and power supplies, are affected equally by smoke.

The soot and smoke particles can find their way through to the system’s interior and attach to different critical components. One potential result is overheating this equipment, which can lead to high electricity bills, and the worst-case scenario is another fire incident. Additionally, heat from the fire can also melt the wires within the appliances, making them a ticking bomb. Fast action is required to ensure that these contents are addressed and can be serviced back to a reusable state.

Electrical gear, power distribution, and generation equipment have to be serviced only by trained techs to prevent damages and ensure proper testing standards and recertification methods are practiced before they are cleared to be reused.

Wooden contents

Drywall, wooden floors, and furniture in your house can sustain damages with ease. Wooden materials are porous, and this makes them readily absorb smoke particles and soot. The result is a tarred black surface. This is why we recommend wooden furniture and flooring to be attended to within hours to a couple of days of damage as it will sustain permanent stain if left unattended for longer periods. Using a cleaning agent is not always the suitable method to restore your smoke-affected furniture. Using the wrong cleaning agent can cause permanent damage such as stains, discoloration.


Smoke-affected clothing should be cleaned professionally and promptly. Soot that gets entrapped in the pores of the clothing fiber is difficult to remove and, with time, can turn into permanent stains.

Trying to remove the soot using a washing machine hardly works, and ironically this helps the smoke odor to set.

Improperly cleaned smoke-affected materials are still contaminated with leftover chemical components that can cause skin irritation and rashes in the long run.

Dry cleaners handling smoke-affected clothing use special cleaning reagents and techniques to clean the item thoroughly.

Plastic surfaces

Plastic surfaces are highly porous and suffer extensive damages from smoke. The heat from the fire can melt the plastic leading to the release of chemical air pollutants. On the flip side, smoke-affected plastic can sustain discoloration within minutes. Wiping plastic surfaces with an alkaline cleaning solution is a smart move to prevent further damages.

Smoke damage is usually invisible to the naked eye, and some pertinent consequences might present themselves only after days or weeks after the incident. Hiring a fire damage restoration specialist is always the smart move as they run high-end testing to determine the severity of the damage sustained by different contents in your home. Some tests conducted based on the different materials and smoke origin types are:

  • Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC);
  • FT-IR for materials chemistry (plastics only);
  • Thermo-gravimetric Analyzer (TGA) with smoke cell and gaseous FT-IR attachments; and
  • Oxygen bomb calorimeter

In addition to this, restoration specialists use industry-level tools, including HVAC dehumidifiers, ozone air purifiers, to alleviate the concerns of smoke odor and pollutants lingering indoors.

Smoke is made up of several different chemical types and microscopic pollutants. These chemicals react differently to different surfaces that they come in contact with, and the acidic nature of smoke causes it to react more quickly than other chemicals. If you have ever been in a fire or had smoke damage to your home, you know that everything from woodwork to furniture can be irreparably damaged by the smoke alone. For these items to be cleaned appropriately, they must first be dried out before being re-treated with a new coat of paint or varnish; this is where a professional fire damage restoration specialist can come in handy.


Submit a Comment