Wildfire Soot Claims

A growing concern in the insurance sector is soot and smoke damage claims due to wildfires. Some of these fires can affect properties hundreds of miles downwind, causing the potential number of claims to be astronomical. Besides the known risks for respiratory and other health problems, smoke, soot, and char can cause physical damage ranging from settled ash to property damage.

Depending on the type and amount of soot, the remediation can range from simple cleaning to professional cleaning and even replacement of soft goods (fabrics and carpeting) and/or electronic appliances.

San Diego wildfires in Rancho Bernardo, Bonsall, Vista, Oceanside, Poway, Carlsbad, San Marcos and as far south as Chula Vista have caused concerns on behalf of The San Diegan Community. Please do not allow fly-by-night contractors cash in on your misfortune. Trust the professionals. Get pre-and-post-remediation site assessments to develop a scope of work and ensure the effectiveness of restoration!

 

What is Soot?

Smoke is a complex mixture of toxic gases and particles, which are generated from the various materials that burn during a fire. A typical structure fire may generate literally tens of thousands of toxic chemicals and gasses as a variety of materials and products are burned. Soot is the carbonaceous deposits remaining after incomplete combustion. Soot is typically black or gray, whereas ash is typically white or light gray. Soot can contain traces of the fuel that caused it, allowing the identification of the source. Soot and the combustion byproducts associated with it can be harmful.

 

Why Test for Soot?

Following a structure fire, there are several contaminants that may be present on the remaining materials and in the breathable air that can cause cancer or lingering odors in your home. Dependent upon what types of materials have been burned, several different types of combustion by-products may be present in the soot in your livable space. The presence of soot on the remaining materials of your home may cause discoloration of materials/paints due to the acidic properties as well as causing heavy elements of soot to settle in porous construction products resulting in smoke-like odors that can last up to years!

Rarefied Air Environmental will follow the industry standards in developing a scope of work that will assist in a remediation project. We will provide a scope of work based upon the findings of surface samples and visual assessments. The scope of work can be given independently to a contractor so as to also ensure that not too much or too little of restoration is performed.

Several other forms of testing are recommended following fire restoration including Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), heavy metals, mercury, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), etc. However, soot surface sampling is now currently regarded as the standard following fire restoration activities. Just as in asbestos, lead or mold, soot testing is a tool used to assess the effectiveness of remediation recently performed. Any reputable contractor would recommend that post-remediation-sampling occur to ensure the home is returned to pre-loss conditions.