The contents professionals at Exclusively Contents, Inc. can tell you — smoke and soot “travel” and can quietly infiltrate under doors, through vents, down hallways and into rooms far removed from the original fire. Painted surfaces, furniture, bedding, clothing, countertops, carpeting, electronics – virtually every surface of any kind can be affected.
After getting a good, solid plan based on the initial photo-inventory, the professionals will remove burned source materials in order to reduce the chance of cross-contamination and to reduce the initial odors – watch for this process, it sets the Exclusively Contents apart from the amateurs.
Some valets use dehumidifiers to reduce the moisture in the air because when ash mixes with moisture it produces acids that can ruin electronics, pit chrome, and other soft metals, and even permanently stain both hard and soft surfaces.
In fact, to preserve refrigerator door handles, bathroom fixtures, metal lamps, etc., it is common to see trained contents workers applying a moisture barrier product such as WD-40 or petroleum jelly on such metals to protect them until the soot and ash threat is contained.
They are also known for cleaning plastic, oil-based painted surfaces and PVC furniture and windows with a mild alkali detergent to neutralize the acidic soot that may not be readily seen with the naked eye, but is quite capable of discoloring such surfaces (especially if there is moisture from fire hoses still permeating the air).
Contents managers will often invite homeowners to have input in the decision as to which items of small worth can be discarded, donated or need to be cleaned and restored. Many adjusters have commented on the usefulness of such a strategy because it tends to minimize arguments about the worth of various items and moves the whole process forward.
Some of us have even received compliments from agents, who have experienced positive interactions with clients, who appreciated the opportunity to be a part of the contents restoration decision making process.
And keep in mind that the contents project manager has performed a complete walk through and photo inventory with the client in order to discover the extent of the damage to the contents in each room. The insured has pointed out specific items that are of great monetary or intrinsic value and has helped to shape the scope of work and the initial estimate (which is likely to save the adjusters and agents some headaches as the job proceeds – not to mention saving dollars for the carrier).
Of course there are dozens of other things the Exclusively Contents do during a smoke damage remediation assignment, but helping to create building blocks of security and positive feelings on the part of the insured, an exemplary bottom line or the adjuster, and an ideal opportunity for a policy renewal for the agent on the case are always part of their final goals.