Removing Smoke Odors From Your Home

removing smoke odors

One of the biggest challenges following a house fire is removing smoke odors from your home.  Even a small fire has byproducts that can continue to cause property damage and jeopardize the health of the inhabitants.  Here are some tips to help eliminate the smokysmell quickly and effectively.

Removing the Stench

The flames may be gone, but tiny smoke particles continue to stick to household surfaces and porous materials like carpeting, furniture and books.  How well the odor can be removed depends on the size of the fire, length of exposure and the types of burned materials.  Try the following DIY methods first to remove the smoke odor. If none of them work, it’s time to call in a professional.

Let Fresh Air In

Open all the doors and windows so the outside air can come into your home.  Place fans throughout your house to help push the smoke smell out of the house.  Fresh air will reduce the smell of smoke, but won’t get rid of it all.

Deep Clean Everything

To eliminate the stench completely, you will need to do a deep cleaning of the items and surfaces that were impacted by the smoke.  Remove all fabrics such as curtains, rugs, and furniture covers. Wash or dry clean them. Keep them out of the house until the smoke has cleared.

Smoke particles are especially hard to get out of carpeting and furniture. To absorb odors, sprinkle them with a generous amount of baking soda.  Let it sit overnight, and then vacuum it up.

Wash the windows, screens and shades.  Wipe down all of your solid surfaces including walls, floors and light fixtures with a mixture of dish soap, white vinegar and warm water.  If the DIY cleaning method falls short, you may need to purchase specialized cleaning products.

Make sure you clean the HVAC system. Smoke can get into the ductwork and ventilation system and linger in your home.  Change the heating and air conditioning filters and have your HVAC system inspected for damage..

Do a Repainting Job

If the paint on your walls retains the smoke odor, you’ll have to wash, dry and repaint them to remove the bad smell.  Use cleaning products that contain ammonia or glycol to wash the walls. Apply a primer designed to lock in odors. Repaint the walls with latex paint.

The Scoop on Odor Removers

Save your air fresheners, odor-eliminating sprays and oil diffusers until after the smoke is cleared.  These items only temporarily mask the smell, but don’t get rid of it.

Activated charcoal can reduce the smell of smoke.  Charcoal contains carbon molecules that chemically “trap” smells, clearing them from the air. Most home improvement centers offer a variety of activated charcoal products. Make sure the package reads, “smoke or odor eliminators.”

Smoke that is left to linger in a home can cause headaches, bad smells and even respiratory issues.  Be sure to clear the smoky smell as soon as possible, and consider calling in a professional to do the job.

Let Us Clean it Up

When it comes to water, flood, or fire and smoke damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke and more.  Contact us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.


Preventing Chimney Fires: How to Stay Safe

chimney fires

There is nothing better than cozying up to a warm fire on a cold winter’s night.  The sound of the crackling flames helps us to relax and takes the chill away.  However, as we enjoy the roaring blaze, danger may be lurking. A chimney can quickly catch fire and spread to the rest of our home, causing extensive damage.  Here are some facts you need to know to stay safe.

What Causes Chimney Fires

A dirty chimney is to blame for most chimney fires.  When you burn wood, the smoke contains unburned wood particles. As smoke rises up the chimney, it leaves condensation on the walls of the flue lining in the form of creosote, a black or brown substance.  Creosote builds up in your chimney each time you light a fire and is highly flammable.  It takes just a one-eighth-inch buildup of creosote to spark a fire.

Types of Chimney Fires

There are two types of chimney fires: the fast burn and the slow burn.  Signs of a fast-burning fire include loud popping noises or a low rumbling sound; large plumes of black smoke or sparks coming up through the chimney top; and an intense, hot smell.  If you have a slow-burning fire, it may not be visible. They often go undetected until a chimney inspection, but can still cause plenty of damage.

Signs of Chimney Fires

There are several tell-tale signs that your chimney has previously caught fire.  These include a “puffy” or “honey combed” creosote; a discolored or distorted rain cap; warped metal on the damper; evidence of smoke escaping through mortar joints of masonry or tile liners; cracked or collapsed flue tiles; tiles with large chunks missing; and a heat damaged TV antenna.

 How to Prevent Chimney Fires

  • The first line of defense against a chimney fire is to schedule an annual chimney inspection and cleaning.
  • Burn only dry, properly seasoned firewood. Wet or green wood is a major contributor to creosote production and buildup.
  • Make sure the chimney is properly lined and the liner is in good shape.
  • Have a quality chimney cap installed to keep outside debris out.
  • Make sure the chimney gets enough air. Keep the damper fully open while a fire is burning.

Chimney Maintenance Tips

It is crucial to keep your chimney in working order.  Here are some important safety tips.

The fireplace damper must function properly.   If it doesn’t fully close when the fireplace isn’t in use, outside drafts will get into your home and impact your electric bill.  The damper must always be able to stay open during a fire.

Waterproof the chimney.  Moisture and the elements can weaken the structural integrity of your chimney, cause mold and even damage the walls and floor by the fireplace. Add a water sealant to the outside of the chimney to waterproof it.

Do a regular sweeping.  A good rule of thumb is to clean the chimney after every 50 burns.

How often you have it cleaned will depend on how much you use it.

Get an annual inspection.   Problems won’t always be spotted with the naked eye. You need a professional to do a thorough chimney checkup once a year.

Gas Option

Gas log fireplaces burn much cleaner than wood burning ones.  They produce less harmful smoke and are extremely energy efficient.  Since a gas log fireplace burns up to 99% of the gas used, there’s less soot in your chimney, and less chance of a fire.

Let Us Clean it Up

When it comes to water, flood or fire damage,  Flood Department is here to help. We provide water damage repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses in  Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  For immediate assistance, call us at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.