After The Fire, Smoke Leaves Its Mark

Smoke from a house fire can cause as much damage as the fire itself. Soot, foul odors and ash residue can be everywhere, even in parts of the house that were not damaged. The longer this residue remains in your home, the harder it is to get rid of. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can fix the problem yourself; cleaning up after a fire is always best left to professionals.

Calling A Pro Is The Only Way To Go

After a fire has been extinguished, you might think the damage has been contained. This is not the case. Smoke can cause serious and ongoing damage in a home even though you can’t see it. Until and unless the home is professionally treated, it will never return to its former state. Restoring a building after a fire is not complicated, but it does require special equipment, proper cleaning methods and significant manpower.

What Kind Of Damage Is Caused By Smoke?

Fire byproducts such as odors, soot, smoke and ash residue cause ongoing corrosion, etching and discoloration the longer they remain untreated. Ash residue quickly discolors plastic, fiberglass and appliance finishes. As the days pass, metal surfaces tarnish and corrode. Wood surfaces deteriorate. Carpeting, walls, rugs, draperies, upholstery, curtains and clothing become discolored. Glass surfaces and windows can suffer such severe etching that they must be replaced.

The Sooner The Job Is Done, The Less Damage There Will Be

Smoke damage restoration companies have the resources and the know-how to treat smoke damage, but only when they are called to the scene immediately. The longer you wait, the more damage there will be, and the more expensive and difficult the restoration process will become. A professional restoration company can also help you to secure your property and will work with your insurance agent to help you get a speedy settlement.

A professional restoration team can assess the degree of smoke damage and give you an estimate of the work to be done. This process must be completed without causing the ash residue to spread throughout the home. The team will then clean up the ash residue and inventory the damages. Household goods and personal possessions are removed for cleaning and restoration.

Using industrial-strength water extractors, fans, dehumidifiers and other powerful equipment, your team can remove the water and moisture used to extinguish the fire. Meanwhile, disinfectants and other chemicals are used to treat odors, prevent mold and mildew, purify the air and sanitize your home’s interior. Upholstery, draperies, carpeting and clothing may require dry cleaning and additional deodorizing.

The smoke damage professionals at Paul Davis believe in eco-friendly solutions for fire, smoke, ash and soot damage. We have been helping homeowners to recover from fire and smoke damage for almost 50 years. To learn more, visit our website today.

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Breathe Easy After a Fire

Fire damage includes more than burn marks and destroyed structures. Some of the most persistent effects of fire may be invisible to the naked eye, but that doesn’t mean they escape notice.

Smoke causes foul odors that hang around like unwanted house guests after a party. These smells will be there long after the fire department has come and gone, and the longer they remain in residence, the harder they are to evict. Even worse, some research indicates that prolonged exposure to the fine particles released by smoke may cause negative health effects. Here are some of the ways smart property owners deal with smoke damage so that they can enjoy their spaces as usual.

Eliminating Odor Emitters

You might notice that different parts of your home seem to have been hit harder than others. The intensity of leftover smoky smells depends on numerous factors, including the type of material affected, room size, fire size and what kinds of material actually burned up to release the smoke.

Items that are porous, like upholstery and clothing, tend to capture more of the particles we associate with odors. When furniture like couches becomes thoroughly inundated with dust and smoke byproducts, it can perpetuate odors much longer than some solid-surfaced materials might. Getting rid of these secondary stink sources is an important step in clearing the air after a fire, and some may need to be replaced or reupholstered.

Building materials like wood and tile are also porous. These items, however, can usually be cleaned with special polishes and agents specifically designed to eliminate smoke. In some cases, remediation involves the prolonged use of ozone machines, which emit ozone gas to permanently destroy odor molecules.

Cleaning HVAC Systems

What humans perceive as odors are actually tiny particles, like gases. Because this matter is so fine, it can easily get trapped up in HVAC ducts, fans and other habitability components. For instance, AC filters, which are even more porous than those pesky couch cushions, are prime candidates for lingering odor sources.

Effective post-blaze odor mitigation includes thorough duct cleaning, filter replacement and general HVAC maintenance. Trying to make the rest of your building odor-free without also cleaning the vent systems that connect your rooms to each other is a waste of time, as the stink will return as soon as you turn the fans back on.

Dealing with smoky odors is just as big of a job as quenching the flames that release them. To learn more about restoring your property following a fire, check out the rest of the Paul Davis blog, or contact us online today.

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Chimney Cleaning for Fire Safety

It’s not fireplace season yet, but soon enough you’ll be ready to fire up the chimney and enjoy the beautiful glow and smell of fresh burning firewood with your family. Before you light up the first log, you need a thorough chimney cleaning to prevent possible home fire hazards, especially if you have prior damage from water, fire or smoke. Chimney cleaning can be complicated business, so don’t take any chances by trying to do it yourself. Do yourself a favor and schedule an inspection by a professional before the temperature drops so that you can start using your fireplace as soon as winter sets in.

How Often Should You Have Your Chimney Checked?

Fireplaces and chimneys become hot commodities during the winter, but they need special attention during the rest of the year to keep them working safely. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, chimneys should be inspected once a year at minimum to ensure structural soundness and to remove any deposits or obstructions. Any necessary chimney cleaning, repairs and restoration should be performed before using your fireplace for the first time during the cold season. Even if you don’t regularly use your chimney, you should still have it inspected for animal nesting or deterioration.

Why Should You Schedule An Annual Chimney Cleaning?

In addition to routine maintenance by a professional, you should regularly sweep your fireplace as soon as you notice sooty buildup. Acidic soot deposits can drastically shorten the lifespan of your chimney and serve as fuel in the event of a home fire. Chimneys in areas that are prone to a lot of snow and ice such as Indiana need special attention because cracks can form in the mortar as water freezes and expands. Wear and tear from water and smoke can add up over the course of a year, and it can affect the durability and efficiency of your unit. Structural repairs can take time, so you should have your chimney inspected and cleaned during the warm months before you’re tempted to light up your fireplace.

Paul Davis Provides Restoration Services in Indiana

Don’t wait for disaster to ignite. However, you can’t always prepare for unexpected disasters. If your home has suffered fire damage, contact Paul Davis today for restoration and reconstruction services.

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Does Air Duct Cleaning Remove Smoke Odor?

A household fire leaves plenty of damage that you can see, but the invisible effects can be equally destructive. The lingering smell of smoke that permeates your home after a fire is far more than a mere nuisance. If you can smell smoke, dangerous chemicals and particulate matter may be getting into your lungs, and that’s not healthy. Small children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung disease are at particularly high risk of developing serious health effects from secondhand smoke exposure, so restoring air quality is critical for your family’s safety and well-being. Cleaning your air ducts is an important step.

How Duct Cleaning Fights Smoke Odors

Your ventilation system is designed to move air around your home, and it probably does its job well. Unfortunately, this means that when a fire occurs, smoke is distributed throughout your home just as efficiently. As it passes through your HVAC system, smoke leaves behind contaminates that cling to the inside surfaces of your duct work and get trapped in debris or dust that’s already there. Any fresh air entering the system becomes contaminated and picks up the odor of the smoky residue. A professional air duct cleaning removes the debris. An odor oxidizer can then be applied to break down any remaining chemicals that cause smoke odors. Although it can be very effective, duct cleaning usually isn’t enough. After contaminated air has been distributed throughout a home, soot and smoke residue settles onto fabrics and other materials. Additional cleaning and restoration is often necessary to remove odors emitted from textiles, stationary objects and room surfaces.

Combatting Smoke Odor in Textiles

To completely restore your home’s air quality, it’s necessary to carefully remove soot and odors from carpet, upholstery, clothing and other textile items. Fire restoration professionals often use a deodorizing ozone generator to break up smoke at a molecular level. It may be necessary to temporarily relocate all affected items to an ozone room or tent for treatment. Refurbishing household textiles and other items after a fire is a job best left to professionals; using the wrong chemical agent or deodorizing process could permanently damage your belongings. Professionals also know how to perform restoration tasks in the right order, which is especially important when water or structural damage has also occurred.

When Smoke Odor Lingers, We Can Help

Making your home safe and healthy while preserving the integrity of your belongings requires experience, professional expertise and the right equipment. At Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling, we have all three. Fire and smoke damage restoration is one of our core services; we’ve been minimizing fire victims’ monetary and emotional losses for more than 40 years. To learn more or to get help immediately, contact us today.

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Fire Aftermath: Will Insurance Cover Smoke Damage?

Even a small fire may yield considerable amounts of smoke. This results in unsightly stains and strong odors. Prolonged exposure could seriously harm your health. Soot is difficult to remove, so professional cleaning often proves necessary. Fortunately, insurance companies pay for cleaning and repairs in most situations.


If you rent a house or apartment, your landlord probably insures the building. The insurance company will pay for repairs to items and structures that the landlord owns. It may cover walls, ceilings, carpets and appliances. However, you’ll be responsible for replacing or fixing all personal possessions.

People with renters insurance usually qualify for compensation when smoke damages their belongings. It covers furniture, electronics, clothing, rugs and similar items. The insurer may also reimburse you for restaurant meals and a motel room if you can’t safely stay in your home.


Nearly all Indiana home insurance policies cover smoke damage. Mobile home insurance usually pays for restoration services as well. However, many insurers subtract deductibles which may be as high as several hundred dollars. This means that you may have to pay for a portion of the costs of professional cleaning and repairs.

Most home insurance policies don’t cover soot removal in unoccupied dwellings. Depending on the specific company, a house is considered vacant after all residents leave for one or two months. So, homeowners need to notify their insurers and pay for vacant home coverage. Insurance companies require special policies because unoccupied buildings are more likely to suffer damage.


Business owners with property insurance normally qualify for compensation when smoke damage occurs. These policies pay for repairs to furniture, uniforms, equipment, supplies, and other assets. If you own a building, the insurer will also cover structural components like ceilings and walls.

Many Indiana business owners rent their stores or offices. In this situation, the landlord’s insurer is responsible for fixing most damage to the building. A business operator still needs to insure his or her equipment. If a landlord fails to repair a commercial building, tenants generally have the right to cancel their leases and move elsewhere.


Most home, renters and business policies exclude certain kinds of smoke damage. Many insurers reject such claims when industrial facilities or agricultural smudging produce soot. There’s a chance this could happen if you live near an orchard or factory. Furthermore, these policies typically don’t cover damage triggered by arson.

After a fire occurs, remember to board up any broken windows and document all related expenses. File an insurance claim as soon as possible for the best results. The smoke damage remediation experts at Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling can help. We thoroughly remove all traces of soot and work with insurers to maximize compensation. To learn more about our services, visit our website today.

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Fire Restoration: How Paul Davis Restores Buildings After Fires

House fires can start in an instant. All it takes is an unattended pot catching fire on the stove, poor interior wiring, malfunctioning electrical equipment or a candle that’s accidentally knocked over.

Thanks in part to modern fire safety technological advancements, less than 2 percent of residential fires result in injuries, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. But in most instances, there may still be significant damage to your home or business. This can include your walls and carpet or various items such as clothing, furniture and electronics.

Even if the actual flames were not significant, smoke can near-ruin almost any item.

“Portions of the property that were not touched by the fire could still be affected by smoke damage,” said Rebecca Serratos, emergency services manager of Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana. “The severity of the smoke damage depends on what burned in the fire, how long it burned, the distance from the source of the fire, and many other factors.”

That’s why, after any fire, you’ll want to contact a fire restoration specialist immediately to begin the process of rehabilitating your home.

First Steps

After you contact a restoration specialist such as Paul Davis, the first thing you’ll be advised to do is to make sure your home is protected from outside elements. For instance, your roof or a hole in an exterior wall may need to be boarded up.

Just be careful to not do anything that might interfere with an ongoing fire investigation. Depending on the extent of the fire damage, you will likely need permission from the fire department to re-enter your home. Ask the department at this time what you can, should or shouldn’t do in your home, such as boarding up windows, and follow their instructions.

It may also be helpful to take both interior and exterior photos of your home to document the damage. From there, a restoration expert will arrive on site as soon as possible.

“When arriving on site, the first thing a restoration expert will do is evaluate the need for emergency services including additional temporary repairs, removal of personal property, and mitigating fire and/or water damage in the property,” Serratos said. “In regards to the home itself and all personal property, the salvageability is determined by the severity of the fire damage and the cost of restoration versus replacement.”

The Restoration Process

Some items are more affected by fire and smoke than others. When it comes to the amount of damage caused, the the origin of the fire matters.

“Fires where natural materials burn are the easiest to clean,” Serratos said. “Most fires are a mix of natural and synthetic materials, such as plastics. These can be more difficult because the soot is oily and smears easily. The most difficult type of smoke damage to remediate is from a protein fire. Protein fires have a strong odor, and they leave behind residues that are challenging to remove.”

Additionally, porous items are more difficult to restore because they more readily absorb smoke and undesirable odors. But even in cases of extreme smoke damage, not all is lost.

“With proper cleaning and deodorization, some items can be salvaged,” Serratos said.

Most items will be restored carefully with various cleaning solutions.

In the end, some items will be damaged beyond repair, but it’s important that property owners do not attempt to determine which of their belongings fall into this category. Leave that to a professional.

“Property owners should refrain from touching items and disposing of personal property until they have spoken with the adjuster and received directions for how to report non-salvageable items to the insurance company,” Serratos said. “I would also recommend that property owners consult with a restoration professional before trying to do any cleaning on their own. If the cleaning is not done properly, it can create more damage.”

In Need of a Fire Restoration Specialist?

The aftermath of a house or building fire is a stressful time. Emergency Services experts like Rebecca Serratos of Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana will be there for you after a fire to your home or business, helping to restore your property and your life back to normal.

For more information, call 260-436-7510 or visit

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Fire Safety and Prevention Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Fire Safety and Prevention Tips for Homeowners

In recent years, fires spreading across Australia and the western United States have received a significant amount of news coverage, as they should.

These wildfires have been devastating, but for those of us here in Indiana, our fire risk is within our homes. The good news is that you can have a direct impact on preventing a house fire by adhering to safety tips and taking proper precautions.


In most homes, cooking is an everyday occurrence, but using the stove and oven — whether electrical or gas — is one of the main causes of house fires.

This can happen for a multitude of reasons, from forgetting to turn off the burners all the way to leaving food cooking in the oven while you’re out of the house. Burners also get turned on by mistake more often than one might think, which is why it’s important to keep flammable materials (think paper towels and napkins) away from the stove at all times.

“I've even heard of fires starting because a pet turns on a stove and there's something flammable on or near the stove that starts a fire,” Rebecca Serratos, the Emergency Services Administrator at Paul Davis Restoration of Northeast Indiana, said. “If you have like pets and young ones that could touch those dials, it might be a good idea to just take those off or use some kind of a safety device to make sure that they can't be turned on unintentionally.”

Another common cause for house fires is when grease accumulates inside the oven or on the stove. Even when dry, grease can catch fire and cause a significant problem. That’s why you should clean your stovetop and oven regularly.


Even outside of the kitchen, there are a number of home appliances that can cause house fires.

The two most problematic household appliances are your dryer and a space heater. That doesn’t mean you should avoid using either, but you should take the proper precautions and adhere to preventative maintenance tips when using them. 

“It's important after every load in the dryer to make sure you're cleaning out that lint trap. If lint accumulates in there, that could start a fire,” Serratos said. “Having your dryer vent cleaned is something that you can do yourself with supplies found at a hardware store. There are also companies, including Paul Davis, that will come out and clean that vent. That's recommended annually.”

Space heaters, on the other hand, can cause fires when left unattended, on for too long or near flammable materials, such as a blanket, papers or chemicals.

When using a space heater, it’s important to monitor them carefully to prevent a fire. Never leave a space heater on in an empty room, even if there’s an auto-shutoff feature.

Lastly, appliances such as hair straighteners and curling irons should be turned off and unplugged when they’re not in use.


Faulty and exposed wires can spark and cause fires in your home, which often happens because of poor installation.

“There's definitely a lot of things out of your control,” Serratos said. “The thing about electrical is you don't know that there's an issue until you have a problem most of the time, but if you are doing anything with your circuit breaker, like you're adding circuits or if you decide to add some recessed lighting, get a qualified electrician to assist with that. It's not the greatest DIY project.”

Other wiring issues can come from extension cords and Christmas lights.

Old and worn out extension cords may have exposed wires that can malfunction and overheat, which is why it’s important to check them before use, especially if you have pets that could chew on them or if they were left outside or in the garage. You’ll also want to make sure you uncoil all extension cords to prevent them from overheating and melting the protective plastic.

Christmas tree lights should never be left on overnight or when no one is home in case there’s an issue or a pet chews on the cords. It’s also important to adhere to the recommended number of strands you’re allowed to link together.


If a fire does start in your home, the first thing you’ll want to do is get out of your home in the safest way possible and then call 911 immediately. When exiting your home, stay low to the ground to avoid inhaling smoke and other toxic fumes. Touch all doorknobs with the back of your hands to make sure they’re not too hot to grab.

It’s also recommended that you and your family sleep with your doors shut. In the event of a fire, a closed door can help keep smoke and toxic fumes away while you sleep and give you and your family more time to escape.

Smoke detectors are also lifesavers, which is why it’s important to check that they’re in good working condition on a regular basis. Change the batteries at the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time every year.


Experience fire damage? Paul Davis can help restore your home after a fire. Call 888-473-7669 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If your home is damaged by fire, it’s critical to contact a company that specializes in the fire and smoke restoration process as soon as possible to prevent additional damage. Your local Paul Davis is available 24/7 to help minimize the cost of fire and smoke damage to your home.

Paul Davis can also help commercial businesses plan for fire safety and prevention, including going over safety precautions and preparing strategies to get everyone out of the building safely.

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Full-Service Emergency Restoration

Experiencing a fire or weather disaster is traumatic, and the aftermath can transform even the calmest of lives into stressful chaos. Water, fire and smoke damage is often overwhelming, and structural instability or collapse may lead you to believe that your home or place of business is hopelessly lost. In most cases, this isn’t true. Experienced restoration specialist Paul Davis can quickly assess damages and put even worst case scenarios on a smart and sound path to recovery by restoring normal living conditions, managing secondary problems and helping you find your way through the confusing recovery process. Here are the steps Paul Davis takes to ensure the best possible outcome.

Paul Davis Full-Service Emergency Restoration

1. Emergency Board-Up and Structural Stabilization

As soon as you and your family are safe, stabilizing your property is an essential task. Paul Davis understands the importance of promptly boarding up windows and providing structural stabilization to prevent further destruction caused by hidden damage to framing and walls.

2. Water Damage Control

Whether it’s due to broken pipes, storm damage or fire extinguishing efforts, water infiltration can quickly deteriorate building materials and create conditions favorable to dangerous mold and mildew growth. Addressing water damage quickly can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repair costs. Paul Davis uses industrial-grade water extractors, air movers, dehumidifiers and other professional equipment to efficiently remove water from rooms and damp materials. To prevent mold and mildew disasters, disinfectants and antimicrobial products are used to sanitize affected areas.

3. Smoke and Fire Damage Restoration

Paul Davis uses environmentally friendly methods to conduct fire and smoke damage restoration processes such as soot removal, odor elimination and air purification. All affected items including furniture and personal possessions are removed and carefully inventoried for cleaning and restoration.

4. Reconstruction Services 

Unfortunately, if severe damage has occurred, some areas of an affected building may need to be reconstructed. Paul Davis is fully qualified to conduct reconstruction and meets all state licensing and insurance requirements. A variety of reconstruction services are available for home and commercial projects.

5. Assistance With Insurance Claims

Filing insurance claims can be confusing for the average person, especially when extensive property damage has occurred. In the midst of dealing with the fallout of a disaster, the last thing you need is to be overwhelmed by a complicated claims process or unfamiliar terminology. Paul Davis will help you with the insurance claims process so that you can focus on getting other aspects of your life back to normal.

When Disaster Strikes, Paul Davis Is Here to Help

Disasters happen, but having the right people in your recovery plan greatly reduces the negative impact they have on your life and your future. Don’t let a fire, weather catastrophe or other chaotic event disrupt your peace of mind. Contact Paul Davis for a consultation today.

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How Third-Hand Smoke Affects Your House and Your Health

If you or someone you know is a lifelong smoker, you’re familiar with the smell of third-hand smoke. The stale odor hits you the moment you walk into a smoker’s home. Almost everyone is aware of the dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke, but many people aren’t aware that the unpleasant smell that lingers in a smoker’s home long after the smoke itself has cleared may be just as bad for your health.

What Is Third-Hand Smoke?

After smoke leaves the cigarette and the smoker’s lungs, it dissipates into the air. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that it has disappeared from the environment. It settles onto objects and surfaces and becomes what is known as third-hand smoke. Over time, a sticky, noxious layer made up of nicotine residue and various toxins forms on carpets, walls, furniture, toys, kitchen appliances and everything else in the household. At this point, chemicals contained in third-hand smoke are mixing with dust and reacting with other environmental substances such as ozone and nitrous acid to create secondary pollutants. The toxic mix becomes part of the air you breathe. If you can smell third-hand smoke, it’s capable of entering your lungs when you breathe and leaving residue on your skin after contact.

How Does Third-Hand Smoke Affect Health?

Although research concerning the negative effects of third-hand smoke is relatively recent, scientists have already uncovered disturbing evidence. Most experts agree that third-hand smoke is especially dangerous to infants and young children. When exposed, children may have smaller body mass and weaker immune and respiratory systems. Some studies have even linked exposure to sudden infant death syndrome. Studies conducted on mice found that third-hand smoke is associated with liver and lung damage, poor healing and hyperactivity. In adults, third-hand smoke is known to cause respiratory problems and changes that lead to type II diabetes regardless of body weight. Most alarming is the evidence found by Berkeley Lab showing that third-hand smoke causes damage to human DNA, which is associated with uncontrolled cell growth and cancer.

Smoker’s Restoration: Get Rid of Those Toxins

If you’re a smoker or former smoker concerned about the effects of third-hand smoke, don’t despair. Or, if you’ve moved into a home where the previous occupant was a smoker, you can still restore your air quality with a little time and effort. If you only have light contamination, cleaning non-porous surfaces, washing draperies and linens, repainting affected walls and removing contaminated upholstery can help. If a high level of third-hand smoke is present, consulting a smoke damage restoration professional is the best way to ensure complete removal without causing further exposure to toxins during the cleaning process.

Clear the Air With Help From Paul Davis

At Paul Davis, we help put homes and lives back together through reconstruction and remediation of fire and smoke damage, water damage and other disaster-related problems, but we know that it doesn’t take a catastrophe to compromise your health. Whether your home has suffered fire damage, or it’s contaminated by third-hand cigarette smoke, we can reduce your health risks by eliminating harmful impurities at their source. Contact Paul Davis today to learn how we can help.

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Leave Smoke Cleanup to the Professionals

The hazards of home fires do not end when the last flames have been extinguished. Unaddressed smoke damage can make your home uninhabitable, and fire hoses can leave behind water damage that gives growth to mold. Consequently, restoration and reconstruction after a fire is heavy duty work that requires a team of professionals. As much as you want to get back into your home quickly, you need to make sure it’s safe first, and the best way to do that is to call a restoration service right away.

Aside from the obvious odor, unattended ash and smoke damage can lead to corrosion and discoloration of your home’s interior. Metals can tarnish, glass can become etched and most wood and vinyl surfaces will need replacing or refinishing. Carpet, clothing and upholstery that you may think weren’t affected by the fire could be covered in acidic chemicals. These problems only get worse and more expensive to fix over time, which is why it’s so important to call in an experienced cleaning crew as soon as possible.

Trained fire restoration experts begin by surveying and containing the damage done. Layers of ash left on surfaces can harden into a lacquer-like coating, which needs to be carefully removed. Residue from ashes can easily spread throughout a building to affect rooms untouched by flames, so cleaners must use extra caution during this process. After locating the source of odors and neutralizing them with special detergents, cleaners can identify which materials in the home may be salvaged. Professionals recognized by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification have undergone many hours of training and coursework, so look for the IICRC seal of approval when choosing your restoration service.

If you have recently experienced a home fire, then we know this is a very difficult time for you. Over the past four decades, Paul Davis has helped hundreds of homeowners clean up after disasters. Our licensed professionals have the expertise and empathy homeowners need in times of crisis. Whether it’s water damage or fire damage you’re dealing with, Paul Davis can make your home habitable again for generations to come. Contact us today to get started.

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Preventing Kitchen Fires When Cooking

When it comes to fires, the most at-risk area of your home is the kitchen. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 49 percent of all house fires involve cooking equipment.

That’s why, for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, the NFPA announced that the theme is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.

“Cooking continues to be a major contributor to the home fire problem,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy, said in a press release. “The good news is that the vast majority of these fires are highly preventable. This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign works to better educate the public about where potential cooking hazards exist and basic but critical ways to prevent them.”

The restoration and prevention specialists at Paul Davis of Northern Indiana agree with this sentiment, including Steve Leffers, an associate at Paul Davis who is certified in fire and smoke restoration.

“I've been at Paul Davis for 27 years,” he said, “and I would say that's got to be the most common origin.”

Fire Safety Concerns in the Kitchen

While fires can occur anywhere in your home for a variety of reasons, most fires in the kitchen ignite due to user error. That is, most start because the stove or oven is left unattended.

“In kitchen-related fires, a lot of them are attributed to cooking situations and negligence,” Leffers said.

Leffers once was called to fire damage at a home where a man took his dog for a long walk in the midst of frying eggs on a skillet. While that may be an extreme example, any time you leave cooking food unattended, you could be at risk for a fire.

Occasionally, electronic appliances such as an oven, microwave or toaster oven can malfunction and cause a fire, but that’s much less common.

How to Help Prevent Kitchen Fires

First and foremost, whenever you’re cooking, never leave your stove or oven unattended. It may seem innocent to watch television for a few minutes in the other room while a pan is heating up, but a flame can spark at any moment.

It’s also important to make sure flammable cooking items, such as food utensils, packaging, oven mitts, etc. are kept several feet away from a stove top. Also, never use cooking spray when a pan is already over an open flame.

If you’ve consumed alcohol or feel tired, using an oven or stove may be ill-advised.

Lastly, it’s recommended that you have at least one fire extinguisher on hand in the kitchen.

Be Wary of Grease Fires

When dealing with kitchen fires, it’s important to be especially careful when cooking grease-heavy items or using lots of oil, because grease fires are extremely dangerous.

“They can be extraordinary, especially around Thanksgiving,” Leffers said. “That's when we get most of those because somebody is trying to do a deep-fried turkey.”

The issue is that grease fires cannot be put out with water. In fact, water will only intensify the flames.

Instead, grease fires must be smothered and starved of oxygen. Typically, the best and most convenient items to use are a pan lid or cooking sheet. Then turn off the oven and/or stove. Salt or baking soda can be used to smother small grease fires but be wary of using other items, as their chemical makeup may intensify the fire.

As a last resort, grab your fire extinguisher. If that doesn’t work, dial 911 and exit your home immediately.

In Need of a Fire Restoration Expert?

The aftermath of a house or building fire is a stressful time. Restoration specialists like Steve Leffers at Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana will be there for you after a fire. Their experts at dealing with insurance companies and know exactly what to do to restore your home back to its previous state.

For more information, call us at 260-436-7510.

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Top 14 Tips for Preventing House Fires

Living through a house fire isn’t something you want to mark off your list of memorable life experiences. Even small home fires can progress quickly, and the damage from flames, smoke and toxic gases can destroy everything you own and threaten the lives of everyone in your household. For everyone involved, avoiding fire damage is much better than repairing the destruction it wreaks. The following tips can help you reduce your risk of experiencing a house fire. To make your home a safer place, share them with all of your household members.

Essential Home Fire Prevention Tips

  1. Install smoke alarms on each level of your home. Test them every month to ensure that they’re working properly and their batteries are still good.
  1. Develop a fire escape plan with your family, and conduct a fire drill at least twice a year.
  1. Place space heaters at least three feet away from walls and any flammable materials. Always supervise children and pets when heaters are in operation.
  1. If you store gasoline or other flammable liquids, be sure that they’re out of reach and in a childproof container.
  1. Avoid plugging multiple electric appliances into the same electrical outlet.
  1. Never leave a hot oven or stove top unattended. Remain in the kitchen while stove burners, ovens and other cooking appliances are in operation.
  1. Keep dish towels, wooden or plastic utensils and any other flammable items away from your stove top.
  1. Don’t wear long sleeves or loose clothing while cooking.
  1. Keep a working fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
  1. Never leave lit candles or fireplaces unattended. Remain awake while they’re in use, and keep pets and children away from them.
  1. Have all electrical repairs and installations completed by a qualified electrician.
  1. If electrical outlets become warm or discolored or you notice a burning smell, cut off power to the area. Seek advice from emergency services immediately.
  1. Never smoke in bed or leave lit cigarettes unattended.
  1. If a fire occurs, get out of the house immediately. Call for help, and don’t reenter your home until it’s safe to do so.

If It’s Too Late to Prevent Fire, Call Paul Davis

Unfortunately, no prevention plan is foolproof. Thousands of homes suffer fire, smoke and soot damage every year. At Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling, fire damage restoration is one of our specialties. We’ve helped homeowners salvage their possessions and reclaim their lives after home fires for more than 40 years. Our prompt and comprehensive services include soot clean-up, odor removal, water extraction, mold prevention, reconstruction, assistance with insurance claims and much more, and it all comes with the expertise and understanding you need during a major disaster. If you’ve recently experienced a home fire, visit us online to learn how we can help.

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Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke

The importance of timely restoration for fire damage

Unfortunately, fire damage and smoke damage go hand in hand

It’s natural for people to be initially more concerned about the physical damage that’s caused by a fire, but it’s also important to pay close attention to any smoke damage that your property sustains. In fact, the national average for fire damage costs is $10,560, and a significant portion of this figure can be caused by soot and smoke.

What Type of Damage Does Smoke and Soot Cause?

Smoke can get trapped inside your ducts and walls, and in some cases its odor will linger for quite a while. This is one of the most important reasons to consult with a professional when it comes to taking care of smoke damage. To make matters worse, if left untreated, the odor can permeate your whole house and get into your personal belongings.

Soot damage is often even more insidious than smoke because it’s oily and will stain your draperies, carpet, and other household items. Soot will also accumulate on your walls, and it typically takes a special chemical mixture in order to remove all of it. Keep in mind that soot must be completely removed from all of the items that you’re attempting to save before you have them deodorized or cleaned. Failure to take this step will make it virtually impossible for your items to become completely clean.

What If There’s Only a Minor Fire?

Some people believe that a minor fire that doesn’t cause any structural damage will leave them in the clear for issues with smoke and soot, but this isn’t necessarily the case. The reality is that even a fire that’s confined to one room can still cause smoke damage to spread into other areas of the house. This is also critical when you consider the fact that your insurance company isn’t likely to assist you if you find smoke damage after you’ve already settled your claim.

If you’ve sustained fire and smoke damage in your Northeast Indiana home, we’re here to help. Don’t wait! Get professional assistance handling fire, smoke, and other kinds of damage from Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling. Call today or fill out the contact form on our website to get started.

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Your 5-Step Recovery Plan for Severe Smoke Damage

After a house fire, you want life to go back to normal as quickly as possible. Before you can return to your daily routine, you need to assess the damage and clean up the mess. Damage from smoke alone may include soot stains, charring, bubbling, blistering, and unpleasant odors. Follow these steps to remove damage from your home and return it to its former state.

Get Started Right Away

The longer you wait to start cleaning up, the harder it will be to correct smoke damage. As soon as you get the all clear from the fire department that it’s safe to re-enter your home, get in there and start opening windows to ventilate. Take a look at the damage as you go from room to room so you understand what the cleaning process is going to involve.

Use the Right Equipment

To address smoke damage, you’ll need rubber gloves, a face mask, protective eyewear, cleaning cloths, and an outfit you don’t mind getting dirty. You should also have a vacuum cleaner, deodorizing spray, dish detergent, and a trisodium phosphate cleaner on hand. TSP can be found at your local hardware store.

Clear Out the Soot

Soot accumulates in more than just the places you can see. To thoroughly clean, you need to:

• Change the filters in your furnace and air conditioner

• Wash the walls with a mixture of TSP and warm water

• Individually clean copper and brass items

• Vacuum loose soot by holding the hose slightly above the surface to avoid driving dirt into rugs and upholstery

Items that are extensively damaged may need to be thrown away if they can’t be professionally cleaned.

Do the Laundry

Gather up all the clothing, bedding, and other loose linens that have been exposed to smoke and soak them overnight in a mixture of one cup dish detergent and one gallon warm water. Pop them in the washing machine the next day. Alternatively, you can take linens to a professional cleaner.

Call a Professional

If you encounter troublesome stains or smells, let someone else come in and clean up for you. Furniture will likely need a professional treatment, as will carpets and some other fabrics. You have enough to deal with in the aftermath of a fire without having to worry about dealing with smoke damage. Contact us at Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling to take care of this dirty problem. Our professional staff is fully prepared to handle cleanup, restoration and reconstruction to return your home to its former beauty. With Paul Davis on the job, you can relax knowing that your home is in good hands.

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