Recent Fire Damage Posts

Winter is the most Common Season for House Fires

2/11/2019 (Permalink)

House fires occur during the coldest months out of the year, Winter, than in any other season. While you are enjoying being warm and cozy this winter season, please also be vigilant and smart about Fire Safety. The reason being is that heating equipment is responsible for 1 in every 7 reported home fires and 1 in every 5 home fire deaths. And although wood burning stoves give off that nice amber glow and the space heater emits warmth, be sure to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from any heat source like fireplaces, wood stoves, radiators or space heaters.

Many homeowners have invested in generators for those winter blizzards that threaten us to lose power. Generators are great at giving us light, keeping us warm and refrigerating our perishable food. However it is so important to keep portable generators outside, away from windows, and as far away as possible from your home. Carbon Monoxide detectors are just as important as your smoke detectors. Test your carbon monoxide alarms at least once a month. To avoid electrical fires, plug only 1 heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time. Always have a qualified professional clean and inspect your chimney and vents every year! And any remaining ashes that have been cooled should always be stored in tightly covered metal container, and kept outside at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby buildings.

By following these simple rules will help keep your loved ones and home safe and warm during the coldest days of the year.

Home Fire Sprinklers can Dramatically Reduce Heat, Flames, and Smoke

2/11/2019 (Permalink)

When properly installed and maintained, fire sprinklers help save lives.

Fire sprinklers have been around for more than a century, protecting commercial and industrial properties and public buildings. What many people don't realize is that the same life-saving technology is also available for homes, where roughly 80 percent of all civilian fire deaths occur.

The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Sprinkler Initiative outlines proven, effective ways that home fire sprinkler advocates can communicate the impact of sprinklers to their decision makers. NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative highlights key research underscoring how fire sprinklers can reduce the risk of death or injury from fire. According to NFPA's "U.S. Experience with Sprinklers" report: 

  • the civilian death rate was 81 percent lower in homes with fire sprinklers than in homes without them
  • the average firefighter injury rate was nearly 80 percent lower when fire sprinklers were present during fires
  • when sprinklers were present, fires were kept to the room of origin 97 percent of the time
  • the home fire death rate was 90 percent lower when fire sprinklers and hardwired smoke alarms were present. By comparison, this death rate is only 18 percent lower when battery-powered smoke alarms are present but automatic extinguishing systems weren't

Smoke Alarms Saves Lives.

2/11/2019 (Permalink)

Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. 
  • Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound. 
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

Preventing Dryer Fires

12/20/2018 (Permalink)

Very few people realize the danger of clothes dryer fires. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame, but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting. Lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide conditions ripe for a fire. Lint is a highly combustible material, which, interestingly enough, is one of the ingredients in a recipe for home-made fire starters. A number of dryer vent problems contribute to this.

Here are several important steps you can take to keep this from happening to you

Clean your lint screen.Always clean your lint screen right before you push the start button for EVERY LOAD! Even if there is just a small amount of lint on the screen, clean it anyway. This is a good habit to get into.

Check your vent hose.Make sure your vent hose is in good shape. If you have the white plastic vent hose, replace it now! It is not safe and has been outlawed. Use the aluminum type vent hose and make sure the length is as short as possible and not crushed or kinked.

Clean your vent line regularly.It's very important that the vent line (from the wall behind the dryer to the outside flap) is not restricted or clogged up with lint. This greatly increases your chance of a dryer fire. If you are unable to clean out this line yourself, call a professional. Many Chimney Sweep companies offer this service.

Keep the area around the dryer clean.In the event that your dryer does have a lint fire, don't give it more fuel to destroy your home. Make sure there are no articles of clothing, boxes, cleaning supplies, or anything else behind or around the dryer. You should also keep things off the top of the dryer.


Clean the lint out of the inside of the dryer regularly.Your dryer needs to be opened up and vacuumed out periodically. Most dryers today are not easily accessible for the homeowner. Unless you know how to take your dryer apart and put it back together, you'll need a technician to do this. Any time you have your dryer repaired, ask the technician to vacuum it out for you. He should be doing this anyway as part of the service.

Make sure your gas line is in good shape.If you have a gas dryer you should check your gas line. If it looks old or questionable, you should replace it. Make sure when you push your dryer back into position, you don't kink the line.

How To Prevent An Attic Fire

12/20/2018 (Permalink)

Did you know that more than 40% of attic fires are the result of electrical malfunctions?

So how do we help prevent an attic fire? Here are three things firefighters suggest you hire have a professional to do:

  1. Have your chimney inspected by a professional who will check the interior and exterior of the chimney, including the part running through the attic
  2. Check the wiring in your attic, preferably by an electrician, looking for signs of damage, cracked insulation (wire sheathing), and exposed or disconnected wires
  3. Look for signs of burning and charring in the insulation and wood

A common mistake is that everybody typically plugs in their space heaters to help supplement their heat. And then, they'll put them on a long extension cord so that they are able to reach areas with less heat. So, the longer the extension cord is, the more ampage it will draw on the circuit.

Another common fire hazard is that homeowners choose voltage incandescent light bulbs in ceiling fixtures that is a higher voltage than required is also afire hazard. That heat that is trapped within the light fixture goes straight up into the attic and in the wires and essentially cook the wires, starting a fire.

Holiday Safety

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

According to the National Fire Protection Agency U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 200 Christmas tree related home fires during the holiday season. In total, the average annual property damage is over $14 million dollars!  While such fires are uncommon they are more likely to result in civilian death. A death occurs in 3% of reported Christmas tree fires. By comparison a fatality occurs in only ½% of all other reported home fires. The reason for this discrepancy, Christmas tree fires usually star overnight when trees are left lit. Remember to turn your tree lights off before going to bed and if your tree is natural make sure to water it regularly and dispose of it shortly after the holidays.   

We at SERVPRO Norwood / West Roxbury wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

Holiday Fire Hazards

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

The more holiday lights the better, right?  Weather we are talking about strands of our favorite Christmas lights or holiday scented candles, one quarter of reported Christmas tree fires the result of electrical problems or heat sources too close to the tree (according to the NFPA). Be sure not to overload outlets with multiple strands of lights and make sure that the electrical wiring is up to current electrical code standards. Also, check the wiring to ensure that there are no frays or loose connections.

If candles are the way you light up your holidays then follow these two important safety tips. Do not leave candles lit when going to bed or if no one is home. Additionally, keep them a safe distance from anything flammable.  

We at SERVPRO Norwood / West Roxbury wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season!

How To Prevent A Dryer Fire

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

Very few people realize the danger of clothes dryer fires. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame, but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting. Lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide conditions ripe for a fire. Lint is a highly combustible material, which, interestingly enough, is one of the ingredients in a recipe for home-made fire starters. A number of dryer vent problems contribute to this.

Here are several important steps you can take to keep this from happening to you

Clean your lint screen.Always clean your lint screen right before you push the start button for EVERY LOAD! Even if there is just a small amount of lint on the screen, clean it anyway. This is a good habit to get into.

Check your vent hose.Make sure your vent hose is in good shape. If you have the white plastic vent hose, replace it now! It is not safe and has been outlawed. Use the aluminum type vent hose and make sure the length is as short as possible and not crushed or kinked.

Clean your vent line regularly.It's very important that the vent line (from the wall behind the dryer to the outside flap) is not restricted or clogged up with lint. This greatly increases your chance of a dryer fire. If you are unable to clean out this line yourself, call a professional. Many Chimney Sweep companies offer this service.

Keep the area around the dryer clean.In the event that your dryer does have a lint fire, don't give it more fuel to destroy your home. Make sure there are no articles of clothing, boxes, cleaning supplies, or anything else behind or around the dryer. You should also keep things off the top of the dryer.


Clean the lint out of the inside of the dryer regularly.
Your dryer needs to be opened up and vacuumed out periodically. Most dryers today are not easily accessible for the homeowner. Unless you know how to take your dryer apart and put it back together, you'll need a technician to do this. Any time you have your dryer repaired, ask the technician to vacuum it out for you. He should be doing this anyway as part of the service.

Make sure your gas line is in good shape.If you have a gas dryer you should check your gas line. If it looks old or questionable, you should replace it. Make sure when you push your dryer back into position, you don't kink the line.

How To Prevent A Dryer Fire

12/11/2018 (Permalink)

Very few people realize the danger of clothes dryer fires. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame, but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting. Lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide conditions ripe for a fire. Lint is a highly combustible material, which, interestingly enough, is one of the ingredients in a recipe for home-made fire starters. A number of dryer vent problems contribute to this.

Here are several important steps you can take to keep this from happening to you

Clean your lint screen.Always clean your lint screen right before you push the start button for EVERY LOAD! Even if there is just a small amount of lint on the screen, clean it anyway. This is a good habit to get into.

Check your vent hose.Make sure your vent hose is in good shape. If you have the white plastic vent hose, replace it now! It is not safe and has been outlawed. Use the aluminum type vent hose and make sure the length is as short as possible and not crushed or kinked.

Clean your vent line regularly.It's very important that the vent line (from the wall behind the dryer to the outside flap) is not restricted or clogged up with lint. This greatly increases your chance of a dryer fire. If you are unable to clean out this line yourself, call a professional. Many Chimney Sweep companies offer this service.

Keep the area around the dryer clean.In the event that your dryer does have a lint fire, don't give it more fuel to destroy your home. Make sure there are no articles of clothing, boxes, cleaning supplies, or anything else behind or around the dryer. You should also keep things off the top of the dryer.


Clean the lint out of the inside of the dryer regularly.
Your dryer needs to be opened up and vacuumed out periodically. Most dryers today are not easily accessible for the homeowner. Unless you know how to take your dryer apart and put it back together, you'll need a technician to do this. Any time you have your dryer repaired, ask the technician to vacuum it out for you. He should be doing this anyway as part of the service.

Make sure your gas line is in good shape. If you have a gas dryer you should check your gas line. If it looks old or questionable, you should replace it. Make sure when you push your dryer back into position, you don't kink the line.

Chemicals Released During Fires

10/12/2018 (Permalink)

Some of the biggest issues associated with fire damage do not come directly from the flames. The heat and water vapor from combustion can cause severe damage. There is also the smoke and soot from the fire that can cause lasting problems to your home. They contain toxic chemicals and also have a smell that lasts.

Plastics and other synthetic materials can leave behind harmful chemicals that are dangerous to inhale. Wood smoke is usually the largest contributor to smoke in the building. It contains methane, carbon monoxide, benzene, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, formic acid, acetic acid, and traces of heavy metals. This combination of chemicals is quite hazardous and can cause major problems for anyone who inhales or comes in contact with the smoke or residue left behind. The smoke and soot can cover almost every surface in the house even in places that were not directly adjacent to the fire, traveling either through air vents or wall cavities.

Removing smoke and sot requires the proper machinery and expertise. Here at SERVPRO of Norwood/West Roxbury we have all of the machinery and expertise you would need. Our certified professionals have been working with people in need of help for years.

It may seem like life will never be the same following a disastrous fire. With the help of our technicians we can get you back on track. Let us make it "Like it never even happened."

Holiday Fire Hazard - Tree

12/13/2017 (Permalink)

Christmas Trees are a festive sign of the holiday season. They can also be a fire hazard. Cut trees need to be properly watered. Even then, eventually it will dry out. Most tree fires happen after Christmas, once the tree has dried out. Often they start overnight when trees are left lit. 

Put the tree out promptly for proper disposal or recycling after the holidays to reduce the risk for fire. Leaving it up much past Christmas or New Year’s increases the risk of a fire.

Never place any tree near a heat source such as a fireplace, furnace or space heater.

Unplug lights when leaving the house or going to sleep. Be especially careful if using lights that heat up — and don’t put them near heat sources, curtains or other flammable materials. 

Holiday Fire Hazard - Electrical

12/13/2017 (Permalink)

The more holiday lights the better, right? Well, that may not always be the case around your home. Safety must take the priority over dazzling, when it comes to stringing up lights or other electrical decorations. Electrical safety is especially important in older homes. Why? Most likely the electrical wiring and/or circuit breaker are not up to today's codes. Is the electrical in your home to code?

Make sure you buy holiday lights that have been tested for safety by an independent laboratory -check for a label.

Follow directions for safety,

  • Don’t hang indoor lights outside – or vice versa
  • Don’t plug too many items into an electrical socket.
  • Don’t string together more than 3 strands of lights, Gaffrey said.
  • Don’t connect LED lights and non-LED light strands.

Damaged holiday lights

Besides untangling your light sets, inspect them to make sure they are in good condition. This means checking for exposed wires or shattered bulbs and sockets since they pose a fire hazard.

In most cases, light sets should be replaced unless it is just a bulb that needs changing. Sometimes pets can chew on wires, so you may need to inspect often. If you need to buy new lights, LED lights tend to be cooler and significantly reduce the risk of fire. LED lights are also shatterproof and shock resistant.

Odor Remediation - Background

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

Odor remediation projects tend to be complex. Odors may be real or imaginary. Furthermore, interpretation of odor as good versus bad varies from client to client. As such every remediation project presents a unique set of challenges to our technicians. Over the coming weeks I would like to provide insight into some of these challenges and how to properly neutralize odor.  To begin with we need to better understand how we as humans process odor, what odor is, why odor remains, and finally environmental conditions that may enhance our reception of odor.

Humans depend on their nose as the best “instrument” for detecting odor. Odors result from airborne chemicals, gases, or tiny particles. As we breathe, these substances are absorbed by the mucous membranes in our nose and mouth. Receptors in the nose send a message to the brain, where the odor sensation is interpreted. Each individual reacts to odors differently in detecting whether odors are present and how intense they are. Interestingly there are two types of odors — real and imagined.  

  • Real odor is the sensation of smell caused by a real substance. Odor molecules interact with olfactory nerve cells in the nose. The olfactory nerves send a message to the brain that is interpreted by the olfactory lobe.
  • Imaginary or psychological odor is what people think they smell. They are stimulated by a given set of circumstances and strong impressions formed from similar circumstances before. Some people think they smell something because of the circumstances, not because of an odor actually being present. Imaginary odors are sometimes called heightened awareness odors, because circumstances have made the individual more aware of odor than he or she normally would be, and thus more likely to smell something that no one else smells.

Moreover, the term odor describes both good and bad smells. Whether an odor smells good or bad is in the mind of the individual. Some odors — such as putrefying flesh — are considered unpleasant by almost everyone. Other odors — such as gasoline or paint fumes— may be considered good odors by some people, but extremely offensive by others. The interpretation of whether a smell is good or bad differs from one individual to the next.

Odor particles are tiny. Tiny objects are measured in microns, and odor particles range in size from .1 (one tenth) of a micron to about four (4) microns. To put these sizes in perspective take a look at the period at the end of this sentence. That period is about 150 microns in size or 38 times bigger than the largest possible odor particle!  The extremely small size of odor particles allows them to penetrate surfaces easily. It is this penetration into building materials and furniture which result in odors remaining in our environments. This is also what makes the odor neutralization process at times challenging.    

Factors which Help Odors Penetrate 

  • Surface Porosity – The porous nature of building material varies – Hardwoods are less porous than soft wood. The types of paint used will change the porous nature of building materials. Flat paint does little to protect against odor penetration while paints with a high gloss finish may make a surface impervious to odor and moisture penetration. Items like carpet, drapes, and upholstery are all excellent vessels for odor retention.  
  • Heat - Heat causes porous surfaces to expand, allowing odors to penetrate even deeper. When heat is removed, the surfaces cool, contract, and trap the odor particles. This is why odors resulting from a fire are so pungent and challenging to neutralize.
  • Heavy concentrations of residue - The more concentrated the residue from substances causing the odor, the greater the surface area of materials that it can impact. 
  • Exposure time - The longer a surface is exposed to odor particles, the greater the number of odor particles that will penetrate porous surfaces. The greater the number of odor particles that penetrate porous surface areas the stronger the odors are likely to be.

Environmental factors also influence our reception of odors. Odor molecules are very volatile; they vaporize easily. High humidity levels help dissolve and carry odor vapors to the nose. This makes odors in humid air seem stronger than those in dry air. Weather conditions thus impact how evident odors are to people; odors become more detectable by the nose as the humidity increases. Our technicians alert our clients about these potential environmental impacts. It is quite possible, even months later, for odors to reappear during times of increased humidity or temperature. That is not so say that the odor neutralization process was incomplete, but rather the environmental conditions have changed and become more conducive to odor reception. In some cases additional neutralization may be necessary.    

Next week I will share methods and basic deodorization procedures required to ensure proper neutralization of odor particles.

Odor Remediation - Deodorization Procedures

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

Successful deodorization requires neutralization all odor particles. Deodorization is an integral part of restoration and requires professionals trained in all facets of restoration and odor neutralization procedures. Deodorization would be simple if all odors came from one source and one deodorization method could eliminate all of them. Unfortunately, all odors do not come from one source. Restoration professionals deal with some unique odor problems— things you have never heard of or dealt with before. The odor control technician needs to employ multiple methods of deodorization to deal with the many, various odors.

There are four basic deodorization procedures which must be followed.

  1. Remove the source of the odor.  
  2. Clean surfaces with odor-causing residues on them.
  3. Recreate the conditions that caused odor penetration.
  4. Seal surfaces exposed to malodors.

Remove the Odor Source

Simply attempting to deodorize the source with a masking agent will help to cover up any unwanted odors, however, that is all masking agents will do. For example, if the source of odor is a dead animal in a crawl space, you would not think of leaving the animal in place and trying to deodorize by spraying, fogging, or cleaning. In the same way, in a building that is damaged by a fire, you should remove charred structural materials before deodorizing. Debris that is contaminated with smoke residues can continue to give off smoke odors or soils if not removed. The universal first step in deodorization is to identify the source of the odor and remove the source. Taking this initial step will help lessen the amount of odor in the building. Other procedures will be needed, of course, to get rid of all the odors.

Clean Surfaces

Clean surfaces that have odor-causing residues on them. Small particles of odor-producing residue will continue to generate odors if not cleaned effectively. For example, in a grease fire you may need to clean significant concentrations of residue from the stove, countertops, vent hood, vent filter, cabinets, walls, ceilings, etc., to stop odor problems. Check all rooms— not just the kitchen —

to see how far odors have penetrated. Sometimes the entire structure and its contents may need to be cleaned to remove smoke odors.

Recreate the Conditions

No, we are not attempting to "recreate" the conditions that caused the unwanted odor. What we are referring to is the importance of how the neutralizing agent is applied. In other words, to be effective, deodorizers must be applied to the affected surface in a manner similar to the way the odor-causing substances penetrated that surface. For example, if smoke created the problem, a deodorizing “smoke” or fog will be most effective in following odors to their source. If urine contaminated an area, then “flood” affected areas with deodorizers (sanitizers, neutralizers, and digesters).

Also, odors can be distributed in more than one way. For example, decaying flesh produces fumes and gases, which are distributed on air currents to surfaces not in direct contact with the source. This situation may require multiple methods of deodorization. Directly saturate any areas that were physically contacted by the source. Fog other areas to seek out odor vapors that have penetrated surfaces.

Seal Surfaces

The final step of the deodorization process is to properly seal the surfaces that have been exposed to malodors. This step is not required in all circumstances, but may be called for in severe situations. If odor removal would be too expensive or impractical, sealing might eliminate the problem. Two common sealing situations are painting walls and sealing inaccessible duct surfaces in air handling systems.

Next I will touch on the many types of neutralizing agents and the different effects each have on malodors.

Odor Neutralization Agents And Techniques

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

As we have discussed previously there are many kinds and types of malodors. As such, there are many types of neutralizing agents and techniques to use to counteract malodors – each of which affect malodors in different ways.

Here is a list of various deodorants and deodorizing actions;

  • Masking agents
  • Pairing agents
  • Filtration agents
  • Disinfectants and sanitizers
  • Enzymes
  • Air purification
  • Oxidation

Masking Agents

Masking agents are not a primary deodorizer for a real odor situation because they do not eliminate odors. Instead, masking agents cover malodors with a more pleasant odor. Usually masking agents are packed in a time-release form, such as beads, wicks, gels, blocks, or solid cakes, so they generate pleasant-smelling vapors for long periods of time. This slow release of deodorant vapors makes masking agents a good weapon against imaginary odors.

Pairing Agents

Pairing agents are chemicals that combine with (or pair with) odor particles. Most deodorants used for fire restoration contain both masking agents and pairing agents. Two different types of pairing agents affect odor particles in different ways:

  • Humectant — A highly absorptive material that combines with airborne odor particles and causes them to precipitate onto surfaces where they can be cleaned up. Wet fogging uses this process.
  • Counteractant — A neutralizer that combines chemically with odor particles and changes the chemical properties of the odor molecule or destroys odor-causing bacteria. Thermal fogging works in this manner.

Filtration Agents

Filtration agents collect odors in one of two ways - Absorption or Adsorption.

  • Absorption agents primarily absorb moisture and odors into the deodorizing agent. This absorbing action occurs when baking soda is placed in a refrigerator to pick up odors. One type of absorption agent is a powder composed of highly absorptive compounds, inert fillers, and perfume. These powders are not very effective because they mostly absorb humidity and oils and do not attack the real odor problem. They are sprinkled on carpets, but can build up in carpets and damage fibers.
  • Adsorption agents work by capturing odor gases from the air and holding them on the surface of the agent. These processes are used to filter odor gases from air passing by or through the filtration agent. Activated charcoal is a type of adsorption agent often used in air filtration systems.

Disinfectants and Sanitizers

Growing bacteria and fungi create odors by producing gases. Disinfecting or killing these odor- causing organisms is a form of deodorization. Some chemicals are classified as disinfectants or sanitizers. In the restoration industry these terms have specific technical meanings:

  • Disinfectants are stronger than sanitizers.
  • The suffix – "stat" means “to control or limit.” A fungistat controls the growth of fungi such as molds.
  • The suffix – "cide" means “to kill.” A fungicide stops the growth of fungi, killing the organism.

Some common disinfectants are pine oil, alcohol, bleach, phenolic disinfectants, and quaternary ammonia solutions. These agents are usually combined with a pleasant fragrance. The disinfectants kill the odor causing bacteria and fungi and the fragrance handles the psychological odors.

Enzyme Digesters

Enzyme digesters work effectively on organic or protein materials. Unlike chemical deodorizers, enzymes break down organic odor molecules into substances without odor. The enzyme deodorizer breaks down odor molecules into carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and water soluble by-products, and these substances dissipate rapidly into the air. The odor is “eradicated.” Enzymes also break down insoluble protein molecules into simple, soluble substances, which can be absorbed by the bacteria and digested.

Air Purification

Purifying the air is a means of removing odors from indoor air.

  •  Electronic filters use an electrically charged grid to kill airborne microorganisms as they pass through the filter.
  •  Air scrubbers pull air through charcoal filters, capturing odors onto a filter and recirculating the filtered air back into the indoor environment.
  •  Ventilation fans exchange indoor and outdoor air, exhausting odors outside and drawing fresh air indoors from outside.

Oxidation

Oxidation occurs when a substance combines with oxygen. Ozone generators produce ozone gas (O3), which permanently destroys odor through an oxidation process. Ozone gas is an unstable oxygen molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. When this unstable molecule comes in contact with an odor particle, the extra oxygen atom combines with the odor particle and oxidizes it. There are, unfortunately, safety concerns to consider prior to performing any oxidation procedure. Like most “chemical” products, ozone can be hazardous, but if used properly this method of deodorization is as safe as other available methods. Safety precautions must be taken when deodorizing with ozone. Use activated oxygen only in unoccupied areas. Ozone is toxic when high concentrations are inhaled, so remove all people and pets from the areas to be ozoned. Ozone Warning signs should be placed at all entries prior to performing activated oxygen procedures. Only certified technicians should enter the oxidized area until it has been determined to be safe by the technician. 

Next I will share with you the various types of equipment our technicians have at their disposal.

Odor Neutralization Equipment

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

Effective deodorization often requires a combination of multiple deodorization techniques. The same deodorizing product or the same deodorizing process will not solve all odor problems. Some odors will require fogging, some direct spraying, some activated oxygen, etc. The deodorization technician uses a variety of equipment, depending on the odor situation.  

Highlighted below are the various equipment at our technician’s disposal along with a brief description of how and why our technicians would use them.

Pressure Sprayer / Electric Sprayer

Hand pump-up sprayers or powered sprayers can dispense chemicals at about 50 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure. They are used to spray applications directly onto surfaces being deodorized. The most common applications for direct spraying in smoke deodorization are on heavily charred structural components or on fabrics and carpets. Since direct spraying wets the surface being treated, only use this method in situations where discoloration is unlikely or of no consequence.

Ventilation Box Fan

Ventilation box fans generate airflow of great velocity, from 3,000 to 5,000 cubic feet of air per minute (cfm). Moving large volumes of air is useful for ventilating odors, fumes, and vapors from a structure.  Box fans perform various deodorizing functions. When odors are heavy in a structure, a restorer may use the box fans to flush as much of the odors from the building as possible. After this initial ventilation, the restorer will use other methods to deal with remaining odors. Box fans are commonly used to ventilate a structure after thermal fogging. The air in a structure which has been thermal fogged for deodorization should be exchanged to ensure all vapors and residues of the deodorizing product are removed. Air is exchanged by ventilating indoor air to the outside and drawing outside air into the structure. The box fans help exchange outdoor air for indoor air.

Fogging Equipment

Fogging is a common deodorization process. A deodorizing product is dispensed as extremely small particles in a mist. The fogging process produces particles small enough to penetrate surfaces where odor particles are giving off odor. There are two distinctly different fogging procedures – Dry and Wet Fogging.

Dry Fogging — the Thermal Fogger

Thermal foggers vaporize solvent-based or petroleum-based deodorizers, generating a “smoke” or fog consisting of very small particles. The droplets generated by the thermal fogger range in size from as small as one-half micron to larger particles up to 25 microns, approximating the size of odor molecules. The droplets make a smoke, physically similar to the smoke produced in a fire, enabling the deodorizer to interact more effectively with odor-causing residues. Thermal fogging products are a blend of strong fragrances, odor counteractants, and solvents. They counteract odor-causing residues and eliminate odors rather than just masking them.

Wet Fogging — the ULV Fogger

ULV stands for Ultra Low Volume. The ULV fogger atomizes liquid deodorizing agents, primarily water-based agents, producing a fine mist. These foggers generate deodorant particles of approximately 10 to 60 microns in size, small enough to penetrate into most areas where odor-causing residues accumulate. The ULV fogger dispenses water-based deodorizing products and so is referred to as “wet” fogging and would be used to neutralize “wet” malodors like pet urine.

Oxidation Equipment

Sometimes odor molecules are eliminated by combining them with oxygen molecules. Oxidizing is the process of a substance combining with oxygen. There are two distinctly different oxidizing machines at our technicians’ disposal – An Ozone generator and a Photocatalytic oxidizer.

Ozone Machine

The ozone machine generates ozone, or unstable oxygen molecules (containing three oxygen atoms). Ozone is also known as activated oxygen because it chemically reacts with odor-causing molecules to oxidize residues (become combined chemically with the extra oxygen molecules) and remove the odors. The portable ozone machine eliminates a variety of odors caused by animals, cigarette smoke, mold and mildew, or fire and water damages. Ozone can be toxic to. All people, pets, and live plants should vacate the environment during ozoning. {NOTE: I will share ozone safety procedures in my next blog, “Safety during Deodorization Procedures”}

Photocatalytic Oxidizer

This machine is called a photocatalytic oxidizer. Inside the machine is an Ultraviolet (UV) bulb coated with titanium dioxide. The machine produces Hydroxyl Radicals. A radical is a group of atoms, and a Hydroxyl Radical is a group with an oxygen atom and hydrogen atom (the symbol is *OH).

The photocatalytic oxidizer machine oxidizes odors like ozone, but the process is safer for occupied structures. Deodorizing with the photocatalytic oxidizer does not fill a room like ozone machines do. Deodorization takes place inside the machine.

Air Scrubber

An air scrubber can remove airborne particles, as well as odors and gases, from the air. The device draws dirty indoor air into the machine, then pulls the air through a series of filters, capturing particles, gases, and odors on the filters, and then exhausts clean air back into the environment. The machine holds different types of filters:

  • HEPA filters capture tiny, extremely small particles—as small as .3 microns. 
  • The activated carbon and potassium permanganate filter removes a wide range of gases and odors by attracting odor molecules to the filter through adsorption.

Injection

Neutralizing agents are injected into a material using a syringe and a needle or a pump and needle. The injection technique is used when the affected area is small or the surface area is delicate. Also, when the surface material cannot be removed for proper application of neutralizing agents the injection technique may be utilized. An example of when the injection method might be considered is when the procedure of detaching carpet from the tack strip and rolling the carpet back is not practical.

In many deodorizing situations our technicians use multiple procedures to produce the desired results. Combining multiple techniques can produce effective deodorization, but you do not always need to use multiple techniques.  As previously mentioned the universal first step of any odor situation is to remove the source causing the odor. The second basic step is to clean the area of residues. After completing these first steps, our technician may find that the malodor has been properly neutralized and that no additional steps need to be performed. Regardless of the severity of the situation, our clients may rest assured that all necessary steps, and only those steps that are necessary, will be taken to ensure proper malodor neutralization.

Next I touch on important odor remediation safety equipment and procedures.