Fire or water damage cleanup is a dreadful experience. Acting quickly, homeowners can minimize further damage and salvage furniture, pots and pans and other belongings. It’s not a do-it-yourself project. While a homeowner may feel confident in making repairs, most don’t have the technical knowledge about fire and water damage. Future damage and issues could occur later.

Contacting the Insurance Agent

When there is a fire or water damage, the homeowner should contact the insurance agent. Water and fire damage will speed up the deterioration of floors, walls, ceilings, and carpets. The potential for additional damage decreases when the insurance company gets involved.

Professional fire and water damage restoration companies are experts in assessing the damage. Professionals not only see the obvious damage, they can visualize potential problems too.

Airborne Toxins

Fire damage causes soot and lingering airborne toxins that homeowners may be unaware of. Airborne toxins may cause breathing issues. Toxins and soot can erode and discolor furniture, clothing, plumbing fixtures, and appliance surfaces. Knowing which cleaners, lubricants and polishes to use can rescue most items.

Drywall, Insulation and Floorboards

While one or two rooms have fire damage, insulation and drywall in other parts of the home may have suffered water damage from fire hoses. When drywall and insulation becomes saturated, it’s not salvageable. Its structural integrity weakens and becomes susceptible to mildew and mold. Remove all wet material and allow the wood frame to dry out. Check the wood floor for warping and burn marks. Replace damaged floorboards.


Salvaging carpets is a difficult decision. If the water damage is minimal, shampoo carpets. It’s necessary to check the underlying carpet padding for moisture. If moisture is present, remove the padding and dispose of it. Carpet inspection should occur within 48 hours of the water or fire damage. If the inspection occurs later, water-based adhesives that hold the carpet together can deteriorate.

Kitchen Appliances and Accessories

Most kitchen accessories like pans, pot, and utensils are salvageable by washing them in hot soapy water. Rinsing and polishing the kitchen utensils removes all traces of soot and toxins. Washing the refrigerator and dishwasher interior will remove airborne toxins and mold and mildew growth. Hot water and a mild cleaning solution will remove all toxins and food will avoid contamination. It must be a thorough cleaning, not just wiping the interiors with a damp washcloth.


Save leather chairs and sofas by wiping them down with a damp cloth and then a soft, dry cloth. Keep leather furniture out of direct sunlight when it is drying out. Restore leather pliability and sheen with a leather cleaner. It will pull out soot that may have embedded into the leather. Cloth sofas and chairs may be salvageable by having them shampooed by the restoration firm.

Commercial furniture steam cleaners are experts at chair and sofa cleaning and restoration. It will remove soot, toxins and mold and mildew. Wipe down all coffee and end tables. Soot will attach itself to lamps and light shades will attract mildew. A thorough cleaning will eliminate these problems.

Insurance companies will cover most of the cost for residential fire and water damage. A residential home is a major investment. Don’t take a chance and lessen the value of the home by doing the repairs yourself or hiring friends who say they will do the repair and restoration. There are lots of fire and water damage restoration companies to select from. Hire a professional firm and have it done right.