Whether your home has recently suffered fire damage or you keep a wood stove, soot damage in your home should not be ignored. Besides leading to unsightly discoloration and potentially permanent damage to your home and belongings, soot can also have long-lasting impacts on your health. Finding the source of the soot and fixing it is only the first step to make your home safe and appealing once more.
How Soot Forms
Soot is a very fine dust made up of carbon and other elements. It appears when organic materials like wood fail to burn completely. Instead of combusting into gas, carbon molecules linger in the air before eventually settling on walls, floors, and furniture. Appliances that burn organic matter, including everything from candles to furnaces to fireplaces, can produce soot.
What Causes Soot Damage
Sometimes, the source of your soot problem will be obvious, such as a recent fire. In other cases, more subtle sources such as a pellet stove may gradually emit soot for years before the problem becomes obvious. Most modern appliances produce soot in amounts safe for human consumption. When things go wrong, however, a faulty part or leak may dramatically increase your house and family's exposure.
Why Soot Can Be Dangerous
Soot not only damages the appearance of your home, but it can also be a hazard for you and your family. While carbon is generally harmless, other chemicals commonly found in soot are less safe for human exposure.
According to the National Cancer Institute, soot may contain known carcinogens like arsenic, cadmium, and chromium. While you are unlikely to develop cancer after limited exposure to soot, your risk increases over time.
Additionally, soot can irritate your respiratory system. One study conducted in 2007 found that soot was to blame for an estimated 300,000 asthma attacks per year. Inhaling particulate matter like soot has also been linked to cardiovascular disease. Overall, workers in 2007 took about 2 million sick days due to soot exposure.
How to Spot Soot Damage in Your Home
One way to check for soot damage in your home is to examine your wood furniture. Wood easily absorbs soot particles in the air, growing dingier and darker over time. If you notice that your wooden furniture is no longer as vibrant as it used to be, you may be dealing with soot damage. Unfinished wood is more likely to show soot damage than wood with a coat of stain, paint, or varnish.
This type of damage can be seen in other places, including on your walls. Soot is often slightly acidic. When it latches onto a surface, those acids begin to eat away and discolor vulnerable materials. You may notice your walls turning yellow, pitted holes in wooden furniture, and rusted metal as wider symptoms of soot damage.
When to Use a Professional Cleaning Service
Because each case of soot damage is unique, restoration must be completed on a case-by-case basis. In most situations, this involves removing any remaining soot from the affected rooms before restoring damaged walls, carpets, and furniture. Wood may need to be refinished, paint replaced, and objects like photographs or books repaired. Always handle soot responsibly, protecting your eyes and airways.
If your home suffered severe fire damage or has been gradually exposed to soot for decades, you should consider professional help with your restoration. Besides having access to more powerful cleaning supplies, expert technicians are trained to handle and work around soot safely.
If you are concerned about your family's health or are simply tired of looking at smudged walls and blackened furniture, give us a call at Appalachian Restoration and Cleaning to begin restoring your home.