When to Hire a Professional for Smoke Damage


Professional Smoke Damage Elimination

When deciding whether or not to hire a professional for smoke damage, you may ask yourself how smoking damages your house.  This article will help you assess if you can take care of the damage on your own or if you will have to call in a pro.  If you can handle it on your own, we will give you all the tips and tricks you will need.

  • How does smoking damage your house?
  • What are the signs of smoke damage?
  • When should I hire a professional after a kitchen fire?
  • Why should you clean your ducts after a fire or smoking in the house?
  • What to use to clean your ducts
  • How to Remove Odors from your Home Yourself
  • How to Stay Safe while Removing Smoke Damage
  • Conclusion

How does smoking damage your house?

Smoke particles are as small as 0.1 microns.  To put that into perspective, a piece of hair is as wide as 700 smoke particles.  This means smoke will penetrate your walls, light fixtures, HVAC, vents, carpet, ceiling, wood, plastic, etc.  Anything and everything that is porous can be damaged by smoke.  In addition to causing a long-term smoke smell, it stains. Smoke residue and buildup will continue to emit particles for years if not properly treated.  Smoke is corrosive so it will damage your property over time.

What are the signs of smoke damage?

Smoke damage is caused by anything that produces smoke, even if it is just cigarettes. If the smell doesn’t give it away, you can look for other signs of smoke damage.  Wall discoloration is one of the most common signs.  Pictures and paintings will reveal an imprint of the original wall color when removed.  Soot tags are another sign of fire or smoke damage.  Soot tags are chains of soot that cling together that look just like black spider webs.  Cigarette smoking indoors really damages your house. Lastly, check out the HVAC filter for discoloration or smoke residue.  You can assess a property for smoke damage by looking for these signs.

When should I hire a professional after a fire?

Smoke is one of the trickiest smells to deodorize and will likely require professional help.  A fire is a terrible combination of bad odor and long-lasting property damage.  The heat of a fire causes the smoke to penetrate deep within your house.  To get rid of the smell completely, you must eliminate all the smoke particles. Trickier smoke odors will have to be combated with either an ozone generator, hydroxyl generator, or thermal fogger. All of which helps to recreate the conditions that allowed the smoke to penetrate deeply. This is another way how smoke damages your house. Additionally, ozone and hydroxyl treatments work on a molecular level to combat odor. If the smell is mild, and there aren’t signs of property damage, you can probably get away with doing it yourself.  However, we recommend consulting a professional since smoke is a corrosive carcinogen.  

Why should you clean your ducts after a fire or smoking in the house?

When your HVAC is running, it pulls in air and redistributes it throughout your house after heating or cooling it.  This means that during a fire, your HVAC is sucking in smoke and pumping it through your vents.  Your filter will absorb most of the smoke particles, but not all. The rest will run through your vents and out into your home.  The smoke particles will cling to the vents and continue to cause a smell until properly cleaned. This is another way smoking damages your house. Cigarette smoke will pass through your vents and cling to your ductwork.

What to use to clean your ducts

The most common cleaning method is to clean with roto-brushes.  However, these are impossible to completely sanitize.  Find a company that uses a rubber whip system, which can effectively be sanitized. This system is designed to be especially thorough.  It is used to clean ducts in houses after mold remediation or devastating fire.  We use the rubber whip system so our customers avoid cross-contamination.

How to remove odors from your home yourself

Odors are best removed with a combination of methods.  First, you must eliminate the source of the odor.  Next, thoroughly clean the area and apply deodorizers. There are many combination cleaning agents sold at grocery stores you can use.  Air out the area by creating a breeze in your house by opening the windows and doors and turning on your fans.  Afterward, spray a nice aroma to mask the smell.

How to stay safe while removing smoke damage

Smoke removal requires proper protective gear.  Smoke and soot are cancer-causing carcinogens.  Exposure causes both long-term and acute health issues. For example, chimney sweeps had a high cancer rate before they figured out the detrimental effects soot has on one’s health.  So be sure to always wear respiratory protection that is made for smoke and soot.  Since it is such a tiny particle, you must make sure that your respiratory protection is powerful enough to filter it out.  Additionally, you will need to protect your skin.  You can do this by wearing disposable coveralls, gloves, and boots.  We know how smoke damages your house, but it can also damage your health. Don’t forget eye protection!  Keep your face shielded.  You should keep exposure to an absolute minimum. 


Now that we’ve discussed how smoking can damage your house, you may want to reconsider allowing it indoors. Most smoke damage will need to be handled by professionals due to the size of the smoke particle and its cancer-causing effects.  If you decide to try to remove the damage on your own, be sure to wear the right gear to protect yourself.  Reach out to us if you still have questions.