Protecting Valuable Documents from Smoke Damage
Smoke is a threat for your health, but it also threatens everything it touches. If your home or business experiences a fire, valuable objects can suffer from smoke damage.
Smoke leaves behind harmful residue in the form of soot, dirt, and other chemicals that can pollute the atmosphere or harm items. This is especially true for precious paper documents.
Smoke damage can destroy items such as books, insurance papers and birth certificates.
This is a serious problem because it’s possible that you’ll need these documents later.
Insurance papers and birth certificates are some of the most important documents most people own. Smoke corrodes and damages important documents that you may need to deal with the aftermath of the fire.
Different Kinds of Smoke
It might surprise you to learn that smoke isn’t one size fits all. There are actually different types of smoke. It helps to know which type of smoke with which you’re dealing. This information could come in handy when you’re dealing with repairs.
Wet smoke comes from low heat fire. A low heat fire involves fire smoldering in several areas, some of which might go unnoticed. As the fire smolders unnoticed, it produces a type of smoke that feels like a sticky substance.
Once wet smoke gets on your belongings, it’s difficult to remove. If you try to wash it away using an incorrect technique or incorrect equipment, then the smoke will smear all over your belongings. As you can imagine, this would practically destroy your paper documents.
Dry smoke is the exact opposite of wet smoke. Dry smoke comes from high temperature fires that are fast burning.
You’ll probably have serious fire damage as well if you experience dry smoke. It’s simply because dry smoke comes from fires that rage out of control. The heat from the fire is extremely hot, so the atmosphere is different from that of a slow-burning fire that smolders.
Dry smoke leaves behind an odor that’s hard to eradicate. The scent sticks to everything – from furniture and books to curtains and clothes. The best way to remove the odor is to wash the items, but that’s doesn’t always work. Plus, you can’t run paper products through a washing machine.
The damage that smoke can inflict is far-reaching. You can end up paying a fortune just to have smoke damage restoration. That doesn’t even include the cost of cleaning everything else following the fire.
As for paper products, soot does a great deal of damage. Soot can affect your belongings even if there isn’t a large fire. Soot can come from a malfunctioning chimney or fireplace.
How Smoke Moves
Smoke normally drifts upwards. If the cause of the smoke is on the second floor, then the smoke will drift towards the attic. If the smoke originates in the basement, then it will travel to the upper floors.
Smoke also moves easily through vents and air ducts. When smoke gets into a vent or air duct, then it can travel all over the home.
One precaution is to keep paper documents away from vents and air ducts. If a fire does occur, then at least your documents will have some slight protection from smoke.
You can also keep your documents in a fireproof box. However, it’s still possible that smoke will penetrate the box and damage its contents.
Smoke can deal different kinds of damage to your important documents. Here are some of the damages you might face:
- Smoke can leave behind stains on exposed surfaces of books or documents. It leaves stains on paper edges, book covers and other surfaces.
- Smoke can leave permanent damage on your documents, books or other kinds of property.
- Smoke can damage books or covers made from poor material. Poor material can easily deteriorate when smoke strikes them.
- Older paper products are more susceptible to smoke damage because of the material that they use. Antique books often suffer greatly when exposed to smoke.
If a fire occurs, then you can’t do much to protect your paper items from smoke. Getting to safety is the main concern during a fire. However, you can do what you can to protect your items from daily smoke.
Keep the items in a smoke-free environment.
Make sure that no one smokes or cooks near your important documents. Second-hand smoke and smoke from cooking can damage items just as badly as smoke from a raging fire.
What Comes Next
As you can see, smoke is more detrimental than you probably thought. Thankfully, there are different ways to restore or protect your paper documents when smoke strikes. Here are some tips:
- Handle book covers and pages with care if they have book damage. If you’re rough, then you can cause more damage.
- You can use a clean dry sponge to clean the pages of books or documents that have smoke damage. Never use anything wet to clean the paper.
- You can clean book covers with a slightly damp sponge.
If the damage is extensive, then you might want to hire the services of a professional. You might do more damage if you clean the cover or pages incorrectly. To do a professional job, it takes more than a damp sponge. Professional services will use different techniques to remove the smoke and soot from your books or documents.
Professional services can also use deodorizing techniques to remove the odor of scent from your paper products.
As you can see, it’s possible to restore books and documents after they suffer smoke damage. If you can’t protect them, then at least you can whip them back into shape.