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How to Secure Your Home During Fire Damage Restoration

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Following a house fire, you’ll be eager to start your fire damage restoration immediately. But even the most skillful, resourceful, and dedicated fire damage restoration company can’t get your house back into shape overnight.

After the fire, and while restoration work is ongoing, you’ll need to take steps to secure your home and valuables against a number of threats:

  • Further damage from smoke residue and other harmful or damaging chemicals left in your home after the fire
  • Water damage from rain entering through a damaged roof, broken windows, or failed walls
  • Active damage and theft by vandals and looters who see a fire-damaged home as an easy target

With these tips, you can help secure your home against additional damage, vandalism, and looting.

Step One: Determine the Extent of the Damage

Before securing your home, you’ll need to answer these two questions to determine how severe the damage is:

Can We Stay in the House?

If the fire caused structural damage to the home, there is a significant amount of hazardous byproduct from the fire, or the damage is spread throughout every room, you may not be able to stay in the house while repairs are ongoing.

The fire marshal or local building inspector is ultimately responsible for determining whether or not a structure can remain occupied following a fire, and the experts with your fire damage restoration company can provide additional insight into this question.

Is the Exterior of the House Secure?

Whether or not you can stay in the house during restoration, you need to assess if the home’s exterior is secure as quickly as possible. You should walk around the house and determine:

  • Are all doors and windows and their frames and molding intact? Even if a door or window is fine, if the structure has suffered any fire damage, that door or window may no longer provide adequate security.
  • Are the exterior walls intact? Are there any places where fire has burned through an exterior wall, or has the exterior wall gotten hot enough to shed, melt, break, or discolor the home’s siding? Note that in some places, once an exterior wall has been breached, the house is automatically considered uninhabitable.
  • Is the roof intact? If an inspector or marshal has not confirmed that the roof structure is safe, do not attempt to get onto the roof to inspect. Instead, check as much of the roof as you can from the ground. If you know someone who owns a photo-capable drone, now’s the time to call them – you can keep two feet safely on the ground while the drone flies over and photographs the roof for inspection.

If the answer to all those questions is “yes,” then the home’s exterior is probably secure, and you can focus your attention on the inside of the house – you can skip ahead to Step Three of this article.

If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then you’ll need to take steps to secure the exterior of your home against weather and unwanted intruders.

Step Two: Secure the Exterior

If there’s any roof damage, that will need to be addressed first.

Only attempt to repair a roof if the roof structure has been inspected and found safe. Walking or working on a roof weakened by fire damage can cause a catastrophic collapse, leading to severe injury and possibly death.

To cover up any breaches in your home’s roof, use a heavy-duty plastic tarp, available at any hardware or home improvement store. Spread the tarp over the hole, and use two lengths of 2×4 – one at the top and one at the bottom – to secure the tarp in place. Use exterior construction-grade screws to screw through the 2×4 into the roof decking.

Once the roof is properly covered, you can secure any damaged doors or windows. Use at least ½” thick exterior-grade plywood to cover any damaged windows and doors. Don’t use engineered sheet stock like OSB, MDF, or other fiber, particle, or composite panels – these will begin to swell and delaminate after the first rain.

Use clamps that attach to the inside or screw the plywood to the window/door frame from inside the house so potential intruders can’t just unscrew the plywood and walk in.

If there is any exterior wall damage, use the same type of plywood to cover these holes or weak spots.

Step Three: Secure Your Belongings

Now that your home is secure, you can secure any surviving belongings.

If any of your items, furnishings, etc., have visible smoke or soot damage, do not attempt to clean them yourself. Regular cleaning can worsen the effects of smoke and soot and could permanently damage otherwise-recoverable items. Leave these items to your fire damage restoration experts.

If you’re remaining in the home during restoration, now is the time to remove any personal items, furnishings, and other items from the affected areas of the home. If only a few things need to be moved, you can store them in a different location in your house.

If you have to move out, or if there’s too much to store in your house, consider finding a friend with some storage space or renting a storage unit to secure these items while work continues.

If there are valuables in your home that you need to secure during restoration, you may want to contact your bank and inquire about a safe-deposit box. These secure containers are kept in the bank’s vault and are accessible only by you or your designees. They come in various sizes and are a great way to give yourself peace of mind while your home is undergoing restoration.

Don’t Attempt Fire Damage Restoration Yourself. Call Aftercare Restoration Today!

Our professional team offers thorough damage repair services, including HVAC smoke damage restoration and returning your home to pre-loss conditions. Start the smoke damage restoration process today:

Call 24/7 AfterCare Restoration 215.515.1000

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A Deep Dive into the Fire Restoration Process

The Benefits of Choosing an Experienced Fire Restoration Company

Ditch These Three Fire Restoration Myths for Good!

Aftercare Restoration is a local, veteran-owned emergency damage restoration company offering 24/7 fire restoration services, including fire board-up, demo, structural cleaning, odor removal, and complete rebuild and reconstruction service. We’re committed to earning your trust and ensuring 100% customer satisfaction.

Because of our expertise and reputation for 5-star customer service, AfterCare Restoration is the leader in fire damage restoration and smoke soot damage restoration in Lehigh, Bucks, and Montgomery Counties. AfterCare Restoration is a certified firm by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), the leading training agency in the disaster restoration industry.

Our team of IICRC-certified technicians is trained with the best methods and technology to clean up any size of fire damage and restore your property. We abide by the most stringent industry standards, meaning you can trust our team to do the job right the first time!

Call 24/7 AfterCare Restoration 215.515.1000

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