What Every Homeowner Should Know About Fire Damage and Mitigation

WRITTEN BY: Amelia Ciffone

UPDATED: MAY 12, 2022 | 3 MIN READ

Any household fire can be very traumatizing to a homeowner, and even a small stovetop fire can easily cause thousands of dollars of damage to the house itself. A large home fire can be downright devastating, and may require a homeowner to move out of the house while it’s being repaired or rebuilt!

After a fire is extinguished and you can assess the damage, you don’t want to make the mistake of handling cleanup and repairs on your own! If you’re a homeowner, note a few important tips to keep in mind when it comes to fire damage mitigation and restoration work.

Call Your Insurance Company!

Once your family is safe and the fire is extinguished, don’t wait too long to call or email your insurance agent and notify them that you’ve suffered a house fire. While some small claims are better to handle on your own without your insurance company, a major house fire is not one of them. Most insurance agencies require their policyholders to report any type of loss as soon as reasonably possible, even if you are not yet able to start filling out paperwork. They may also have a clean-up specialist they work with, which can save you headaches and disputes later on.

Your insurance agent will need you to eventually fill out lots of forms for your claim, and you should consider getting a binder, folder, or some type of bin for keeping all that paperwork together. Print out a copy of your email to the insurance agent, if possible, or jot down the day and time you called; keep that email or note with the rest of your paperwork so you have proof of having notified your agent in a timely fashion.

Why You Need Fire Damage Cleanup

If your fire is large enough to require help from the fire department, you shouldn’t try to clean it up on your own. Note a few reasons why you always want to call a fire damage cleanup service instead:

  • Ash, smoke, and fumes from the fire may leave a toxic, carcinogenic residue on the things in your home. A professional service can clean your home, walls,  and belongings safely without risking your health.
  • Singed carpets, walls, and other building materials can result in layers of soot and ash that a household vacuum cleaner cannot remove. These residues get ground into carpeting or remain airborne days after the fire is extinguished, eventually settling in other areas of the home. A fire damage cleanup company will have the proper equipment to safely extract all such debris.
  • Water used to extinguish a blaze can seep under your home’s carpets and get absorbed by its padding. Without proper extraction, that trapped dampness can lead to eventual mold and mildew under your carpeting.
  • Burning carpet embers, electrical wires, and other materials create hazardous fumes that are damaging to your sinuses, and that can cause headaches, watery eyes, and other physical symptoms! A professional, thorough fire cleanup service removes those fumes so you can breathe freely.
  • Even after fumes in the home are extracted, smoky and burning smells can still linger for days. A professional odor neutralizing service after cleanup will remove those smells and ensure your house smells fresh and clean once again.

Why You Need Fire Restoration and Rebuilding

If a fire has damaged building materials and surfaces in your home, you need professional fire restoration and rebuilding work, even if you’re handy with power tools and everyday home repairs! Before you consider tearing out singed materials and trying to repair your fire-damaged home, note why professional fire restoration is a better option:

  • Fire restoration experts are skilled at noting if electrical wiring, insulation, and other materials in hard-to-see spaces are damaged due to heat and flames. 
  • Singed or water-softened wood studs need replacing and not bracing. This is especially true for load-bearing studs and beams! A homeowner might not recognize the extent of the damage to many wood parts of their home’s overall framework and structure, leaving their home vulnerable to shifting and settling over time.
  • A fire restoration contractor ensures that a home or other structure is rebuilt according to current, local building codes.
  • Extensive repairs require professional know-how; for example, plumbing pipes are placed at a slight angle rather than completely level, for proper water flow. Even minor mistakes in rebuilding damaged areas of your home can result in future plumbing problems, electrical shorts, and other serious issues.

Do You Need Mold Remediation After a Fire?

Homeowners may not associate mold growth with a fire, but remember that it often takes copious amounts of water to extinguish even the smallest blaze. Drywall, wood studs, carpet and carpet padding, and other materials of the home absorb this water almost immediately so that even with the best extraction services, mold might form eventually.

A fire damage restoration and mold remediation expert can note your overall risk of eventual mold growth in the home. This might be based on the size and location of the fire, how much water was used, how quickly you called for professional cleanup services, and other factors. A mold remediation expert can also note the overall humidity levels in your home, which can also indicate the risk of mold growth.

Check Your Current Insurance Coverage

Your homeowner’s insurance policy should cover most if not all fire damage cleanup and repair work, and it might also cover mold remediation services. Many fire damage cleanup companies will even work with your insurance company, filling out and submitting the needed paperwork so that you’re reimbursed in a timely fashion.

If you’re not familiar with this coverage in your homeowner’s insurance policy, it might be good to familiarize yourself with its terms and conditions. You can then note if you want to increase your coverage, lower your deductible, or otherwise make changes to ensure you can easily afford to restore and rebuild your home after a fire.