27 Mar Acidic Soot Residue
Fire or smoke damage to property, regardless of the “size” of the fire, also requires an immediate response. Soot residue is highly acidic and can cause irreversible property damage if it is not treated as an emergency. Soot residue can cause the metal in doorknobs, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, etc., to pit or corrode. Glass in windows, mirrors, and cabinets can be etched by soot residue, causing them to look cloudy and soiled. Plastics, appliances, vinyl windows and fabrics can be discolored by soot residue.
Circulation during a fire is one of the most interesting aspects. “Heat” moves toward “cold.” As areas begin to increase in temperature, they seek out cooler rooms and spaces. Heat is moving toward lower temperatures and seeking atmospheric equilibrium. Even if the heating and air conditioning system is not operating, the smoke/soot will still travel through-out the structure. High vapor pressure will “force” the residues into areas often viewed as begin “sealed.” It has even been found on items inside of a freezer. As air circulates it carries PICs and odor-charged molecules. This accounts for the need to clean and deodorize areas that are some distance from the source of the fire. As particles combust they become charged. In areas of low circulation they can form what is called “soot tags.” Customers are under the impression that the smoke attached itself to spider webs they had prior to the fire. Quite the contrary—soot tags are new, unique chains of soot that gather in areas of low concentration.
Odors from a fire also vary. When products in a fire burn, the odors join the oxygen molecule in the air we breathe. Undoubtedly, PICs create odor, but in some in-stances, the odor is quite strong even when the PICs are hard to find. Consider for instance, the common “I left a turkey in the oven and went to the store” fire. When the occupants returned, the odor of the burnt turkey is everywhere but there is very little soot. Here is the problem: the 20 pound bird is now 3 pounds of ash! Even the clothes in the back closets contain odors indicating that protein fires are one of the most difficult to mitigate because of the pervasiveness of the odor. All odors have a source. The mitigation company must be persistent in seeking out all nooks and crannies to make sure that all smoke is removed and all surfaces deodorized.
Here at EMERG+NC Property Rescuers, we have extensive experience in this area and can inspect for these problems. We also have the training, experience, and equipment to perform the necessary actions to prevent additional damage from occurring.