Cleaning supplies play a major role in the success of a restoration project. Depending on the materials affected and the type of surface being treated, proper cleaning treatments and equipment will be carefully selected to match the need.
Failure to select the right type of cleaning chemicals or machinery to address soot and smoke ridden materials often results in wasted product, time and cash. For this reason, it is imperative that restorers choose the most efficient means of cleaning available to them for the interest of all parties involved.
The most important factor that restorers must keep in mind when attempting to remediate a facility is safety.
Safety comes in various forms, but it first begins with knowledge. Because remediation specialists have already received proper training, they are able to restore buildings and homes that have been affected by fire, both effectively and safely.
Two key safety considerations that remediation specialists must pay attention to is which cleaners will have the most effectual use on materials and surfaces to be restored, and what adverse effects can be expected when specific cleaning products or tools are used.
Ineffectual use of cleaning supplies not only wastes money and resources but can also pose serious risks to materials, the structure itself and everyone involved.
Bear in mind that restorers will act on what they believe is best given the situation and their findings following the inspection. Therefore, it is important that clients ensure that they follow any instructions given by remediators, especially in regards to safety, as fire and smoke affected environments, as well as the process of restoration, often yields a treasure trove of safety hazards.
PH in Relation to Cleaning Supplies
The pH level of cleaning supplies used in fire restoration is very important. Restorers know that acidic conditions created by fire and smoke events generally require the help of alkaline cleaners. There are times, however, when cleaners that are acidic in nature will be utilized, as will be explained later on.
PH determines solubility in water and is also a predictor of the aggressiveness of a cleaning product. PH stands for “parts per concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution of water” and is defined on a scale of 0-14 with 0 being the most acid and 14 the most basic.
Restorers will need to keep this information in mind when selecting appropriate cleaners to use on particular surfaces and materials, as base cleaners will work to neutralize acid.
Common Fire and Smoke Restorative Cleaners
There are many facets and types of cleaners and processes that restorers will use to remove residuals from smoke and fire. These include:
Hot Thermal Fogging
Foggers are commonly used to re-odorize structures and are especially effective because the fog they emit behaves in the same way as smoke.
The smoke generated by a fogging machine will naturally drift to cooler areas and hard to reach nooks and crevices. Thus, hot thermal foggers can be extremely effective at cleaning air and surfaces.
Nevertheless, when using a fogger, remediators may need to contact the police, fire department and alarm company, ahead of time. This is to eliminate any unnecessary trips by either of these departments to the structure of the home being fogged, as concerned neighbors and passersby often mistake the smoke generated from a fogger as being yet another fire emergency.
Dry sponges are an excellent way for remediators to buffer and scrub particular surfaces to promote an effectual clean by drawing out soot, smoke and other debris.
Not to be confused with the re-odorizing process, deodorizers can be broken into sub-categories and work to eliminate odors within a structure. Common deodorizers include:
Masking Agents: Masking agents work as temporary fixes and come in the form of oils, gels and solids. Since their masking qualities will eventually expire, this form of deodorizing can only be used until a permanent fix is acquired.
Sealers: Sometimes, even after restorers have put forth their best cleaning efforts, an odor or stain from a fire and smoke event may remain. If this is the case, a sealer may be applied to hide staining on surfaces and to keep odors at bay.
Acid: Though alkaline cleaning solutions are vital in the fire and smoke remediation process, restorers will sometimes need to defer to other means, such as acids, to get the job done. This is usually done on the premise of needing to clean a particular surface, such as tile grout or aluminum framing, but may also be employed when alkaline cleaners aren’t working.
Bleach: Bleach may be necessary to use for certain projects or in particular scenarios, but it is a chemical that is typically used sparingly as there are many precautions that must be taken with it to ensure the safety of materials, surfaces, occupants, owners and the remediation team.
General Purpose Cleaners: Hard washable surfaces are often restored using general-purpose cleaners. This approach is often ideal for gloss painted walls, door trim, windows, plastic, porcelain and more.
Degreasers or Alkaline Pre-Conditioners: Degreasers and alkaline pre-conditioners are often utilized to treat highly durable items, such as upholstery and other materials
Wood Restoring Cream: Restorers often clean wood with wood restoring cream and will typically apply the product to finished wood. Wood restoring cream is particularly useful for wood having polyurethane or lacquer finishing on it.
Leave the Cleaning to the Pros
All in all, remediation experts have everything needed to remove the unpleasant visible and invisible attributes of a home or building that has been negatively impacted by smoke and fire.
With foggers, sealants, alkaline solutions and more, you can trust your remediation team to do the best that they can to restore your property back to its initial state.
Remember, even if you have many of the aforementioned cleaning products on hand, it is important to realize that only the experts have the tools and training needed to ensure a job well done. Combining experience with expertise, your remediation technician will come equipped with the right cleaners to preserve and restore your fire-affected home, business or structure in the safest way possible.