Tag: soot damage

It’s Personal…

What’s More Personal Than a Person’s Home?


We all hope that we’ll never need the services of a professional restoration company. The reality is that you or someone you know will have a situation that requires them. Why should Whalen Restoration Services be the first choice for Cape Cod, MA property owners? Most people want to work with an established company that has a great reputation. They want the company to be licensed and insured, the workers to be experienced and trained, and the best tools available to be used with up-to-date techniques. There isn’t a restoration company that won’t claim to have all of these positive attributes. Our special difference: Whether the project involves a residential property or a commercial property, our President, Bill Whalen, is tuned in to the needs of the owner.

Bill ensures that all of us at Whalen Restoration Services realize that there is nothing more personal than someone’s home. If put in the same situation we would want to be back in our own homes as soon as possible, and we work diligently to be sure that our clients are. Business owners have additional concerns, specifically the expense of being unable to operate the business while the restoration is ongoing. We helped one restaurant owner who had a fire just before a major holiday, and another restaurant owner whose building was hit by a car at the height of the summer season. Anyone who is familiar with Cape Cod knows that being closed during those times would be devastating for business! We also saved business for a hotel where, had we not responded in the fashion that we did, a wedding would have been forfeited. Our timely restorations also saved the insurance companies significantly in all of these cases. Bill’s empathy and understanding for the business owner contributes immensely to the successful completion of their restoration projects.

Many of us here at Whalen Restoration Services have homes and families of our own, so we completely understand that it is personal to have us in yours. This business is even family owned and operated. These are huge reasons why we’re committed to restoring every residential and commercial property to its pre-loss condition in a timely fashion with quality and courtesy.

Want to learn more about Bill and our office staff? Read on!

Safely Enjoy Your Fireplace or Wood Stove

Every year over 35% of residential fires are caused by heating sources. Many of them are due to creosote buildup in fireplace chimneys and stovepipes. Having a fireplace or a wood burning stove adds charm to a home and can be a great heating element, but they come with a lot of responsibility. You need to keep them clean, know what to burn and what not to burn in them, know how to burn those materials and how to store them. It takes every piece of that knowledge to make sure you’re protecting your home and its company while they’re in use.


Keeping wood stoves and fireplaces safe starts with a yearly inspection and chimney sweep. Make sure the specialist you hire is certified to perform their services. It’s always good to do a little research on how long they’ve been in business, any unresolved complaints that may be filed against them, and by following up with some of their current references. Don’t forget to also ask about their business liability insurance.

The next part of keeping stoves and fireplaces in great shape is then using them properly. To help keep the creosote from building up inside your fireplace chimney keep the glass doors open while the fire is burning, but don’t forget to keep them closed when the fire is out. Have a screen cover in front the fireplace to protect the surroundings from sparks and stray embers. You may even want to slightly crack a nearby window while using it to keep good air flow. When it comes to avoiding creosote buildup with wood stoves keep air inlets open and make sure not to restrict the air supply. Whether fireplace or stove, place a nonflammable rug in front so that if a spark does escape it doesn’t damage your floor.

Knowing how to build and tend to a fire is crucial for safety and maintenance. Build your fires small with seasoned hardwoods for fireplaces and seasoned wood pellets for pellet stoves. Never use trash, plastic or any cardboard as burning materials. Fires should be built on a grate for support and towards the rear of the fireplace. First place in the kindling and logs and then open the damper. Before you light your fire, an easy way to make sure the smoke will properly escape up the chimney is by quickly blowing out a lit match and watching where the smoke travels. Never start a fire with flammable liquids, and only use your fireplace tools to handle burning logs.

Fireplace and wood stove safety doesn’t end inside of the home. Protecting the exterior of your home involves proper storage of your burning materials, proper disposal of ashes and landscape maintenance. Place your firewood rack 30’ from your house. Keep the ventilation areas clear by trimming any branches around the flues, vents and/or the chimney. You can put a mesh screen to cover the chimney and it will protect the roof from any stray sparks. Vent pipes should be at least 3’ beyond your roof line. Did you know it can take up to three days for fire ashes to completely cool? When finally ready to remove them make sure you open the damper and a window so that rustled ash will be sent up the chimney with the negative air pressure, and then keep the removed ashes contained in a metal container at least 10’ from any structure.

Last but most importantly, test your smoke detectors on every floor monthly and don’t forget to change the batteries once a year. Need help with friendly reminders on that? Follow any of our social media accounts and we’ll post when it’s time.

So when your system is clean, the area maintenance is done, you have the correct burning materials properly stored, and all other safety measures are in place you’re good to go. It may sound like a bit of work but it is all completely necessary to protect your home from suffering a fire damage, smoke and soot damage. The best part you can then reap the rewards of all your efforts and cozy up to a nice toasty fire on one of these chilly nights. ‘Tis the season and I hear it’s going to be a cold week. Enjoy!

Why post fire cleaning is not a DIY

The danger of a fire lingers even after the firefighters are done extinguishing the flames. Removing the danger takes a high experience level and heavy manpower to be completed effectively and within the sensitive time frame. Although you may be a five star housekeeper and clean with the best of them, this is not a task a homeowner should tackle on their own.


The soot, ash and smoke that remains after the firefighters extinguish the flames can cause extensive permanent damage if not properly handled. Within hours of a fire metal starts to tarnish and appliances begin to yellow. Within a few days of a fire metal starts to corrode, glass becomes etched, and wood furnishings may require replacement. The longer the mess remains the more time the acidic ash has to cause more destruction. A simple wipe down and vacuum won’t save you from soot stains and odor retention that can last for years.

It’s best to start looking into finding a reputable company that you can rely on now, before the fire and soot, rather than scrambling to find someone trustworthy in the limited amount of time you’ll have until you must begin services to keep the damage from getting any worse. Your quick response to call them in can be the line between having to replace a few things, and having to replace almost everything. When choosing a professional, make sure to check their accreditation’s to ensure they have the proper training. Without it, you weigh the risk of incorrect methods of cleaning making things much worse. Certifications help to confirm that the provider has the education to support their experience.

So what are these professionals going to about the soot, ash and smoke damaged areas? Protect, clean, and deodorize. Hoping that they were called to action immediately, technicians will work to identify salvageable items and areas from damaged ones. Containment’s may need to be constructed to protect any unaffected areas. Severely damaged materials will be removed. A deep thorough soot cleaning will be done to remove the soot from every nook and cranny. Odor sources caused by smoke damage will be specially treated with a neutralizing formula and then sealed.

Cleanable contents may be taken back to the company’s shop for a thorough scrubbing. You’ll want a detailed inventory of all un-salvageable items for insurance purposes. Here’s where that home inventory list comes in handy! (Try knowyourstuff.org if you haven’t started one yet!) After all items and areas are cleaned and treated, any necessary repairs can then commence, and you can begin to replace any lost items.

There’s a little more about fire damage cleaning on our website.

You may also be interested in what to do if you’ve had a fire, and all about soot!

The Restoration of Cleveland’s West Side Market

Inside Cleveland's West Side Historical Marketplace
Inside Cleveland’s West Side Historical Marketplace

On January 30th, 2013, just after Cleveland’s West Side Market celebrated its 100th anniversary, a fire broke out totaling 2 of the 164 vendor stalls and spreading damaging soot throughout the massive structure. This beautiful public marketplace is operated by the City of Cleveland. It was built by the same architects that built the Cleveland Museum of Art, Benjamin Hubbel and W. Dominic Benes. Rising above all the glory stands the 134 feet tall clock tower. The local community depends on the diverse variety of goods that the market offers. News of the total loss of paper products and all food items from the fire was an absolute tragedy.

A local restoration company called RestorX MD had the winning bid and began working around the clock to restore the building. The restoration company reported soot up to an inch thick on top of the overhead lights. The first step for the technicians was to dry clean the dusty soot from any and all surfaces where it collected. This was the most important step taken during the restoration. Had they began cleaning the soot with a liquid cleaning agent, the soot would have actually been set and all of the stainless steel damaged.

After the dry cleaning and a quick soak in a specially formulated cleaning solution, the power washing began with high pressure hot water. Although the building had existing drains, more drainage was required to keep up with the amount of water being used for washing. RestorX MD used the truck mounts from their carpet cleaning division to extract the soot ridden water and haul it away.

Within the soot cleaning process there is always the step of fine detailing. After a fire, no soot can be left behind. Even the smallest amount settled in the cracks between the glass and it’s stainless casing will later cause problems with the steel and persistently harbor a strong odor. Everything must be disassembled, thoroughly cleaned, and reassembled. This is by far the most tedious part of the fire restoration process.

With every restoration, there is a beauty that can be found after the tragedy with the completion of the project. In the case of Cleveland’s Historic Market, vendors restocked by February 18th for the reopening and they were able to resume service in an absolutely pristine building. All of the grime that built up over the 100 years that the building existed had been washed away with all of the soot. Finally, visitors and employees alike were able to again marvel at the beauty of the massive ceramic ceilings and distinct tile details. Thanks to the quick turnaround of an efficient restoration company, the community was able to continue their dependence on the beautiful market, hoping to do so for another 100 years.

Photo courtesy of Landscape Voice