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Tip: Cleaning Fireplace Burns

The fireplace is a central meeting area in a home, a place for the warmth and friendship of old and a center piece for conversation. Even though they require very little maintenance, if problems do occur, there is help.

Q: During the last bout of bad weather our electricity went out. With no heat or lights, we tried the fireplace, unaware of a blockage in the flue, and our house sustained smoke and soot damage. Do I have to replace my carpets, drapes and repaint the room?

A: Not always. Many companies have specific training and know the right materials to clean up after such a mess. We are able to “erase” the soot right off the walls and wallpaper without damage to the finish, and clean the carpets, furniture and window coverings.

Q: After the soot damage is removed, is there a way to remove the odor or is it something we must live with?

A: Deodorizing techniques will remove the odors from a space sometimes without altering the appearance of any surfaces. One method is use of an ozone generator which produces ozone gas to remove the smell permanently without harming furnishings. The use of high concentration of ozone should be done by a professional who understands the safety issues involved with such a procedure.

Another deodorizing method is a fogging machine which produces a hot, thick smoke with an odor destroying agent. Because this smoke is hot, it rises and fills the same nooks and spaces the original smoke entered. However, because this device leaves a film residue behind, a thorough cleaning should follow this procedure.

If scorching or burnt materials are left behind, the area should be sprayed with a soot sealer, repainted and then the above mentioned methods can be used to destroy odors.

Q: We had tenants in our home who took good care of it, but they cooked with a lot of spices. We have painted and scrubbed but we still have an odor. what can we do?

A: You didn’t mention if you had cleaned the carpeting yet. That is where I would start. Then, the methods and devices listed above will also work for removing cooking odors. Some materials in the home collect odors and are hard to locate. Acoustical ceiling material can be a source of odors, as can draperies and blinds. Also, don’t forget to change your furnace filter, as some odors become trapped in the heating/air conditioning system.

Q: An ember sparked from our fireplace and left melted areas on our carpet. Is there anything that can be done or must we replace the carpet?

A: Fireplace burns are relatively easy to repair. The lack of wear patterns around fireplaces usually makes it easy to insert new carpet from a remnant or closet. Some small areas the size of a dime can be tufted in with new yarns. These repairs generally aren’t very expensive and are well worth the investment.

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