What Items Can be Salvaged After a Fire? And What Should You Throw Away? 

One might think fire and smoke damage can destroy everything it comes in contact with, but it is not all unsalvageable. 

The safety of yourself and your family should be your first concern. However, after everyone is out of harm’s way, you are sure to start thinking about the fire damage to your home and the items in it. Hopefully, some you’ll be able to save — and others will, unfortunately, have a one-way ticket to the garbage bin.

This article will explore what items are considered salvageable and which ones need to be thrown away. 

Make Sure Your Home is Insured

First things first, if you are a homeowner, you should have insurance on the home (dwelling coverage) and the contents in the home (personal property coverage). This is because a fire can do very little damage or destroy your entire house. 

What Items Need to be Thrown Away?

Let’s start with the items that are most likely going to be needed to be thrown away.

Some items in your home may have irreversible damage from smoke, soot, and even water (from the fire being put out). Such things include clothing, carpet, upholstery, and curtains. Pretty much anything that is made out of fabric. These tend to soak up all the nastiness from smoke and soot. 

Smoke and soot can cause extensive damage to the property in your home, such as furniture, upholstery, curtains, carpet, and appliances. 

Common Types of Property Damage

Here is a list of the most common types of damage that you can find in a home: 

Fire – The flames inside or outside the house will damage everything it touches. This is not only confined to the structure of the building itself but also items in the home or yard that will be affected and damaged — such as clothing, furniture, yard tools, toys, wall decorations, and appliances. 

Smoke Damage – Particles that travel through the air inside the home and around the property caused by smoke and soot can damage any number of your personal belongings. Some of these items can be cleaned and rescued from damage. 

There are DIY ways to do this, but leaving the heavy lifting stuff to professionals is always recommended. In addition, there may also be health hazards involved in the cleanup, so it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

Another thing to be aware of is that soot and smoke can seep into your electrical devices’ porous areas, like stereo equipment, phones, and home theater systems. 

Water Damage – How does one put out a fire? That’s right, with water. Once a fire is put out with heaping amounts of water, your home will likely experience water damage. You can find this in the structure of your home and drywall, and it can also affect any personal items you have that are made out of wood, such as coffee tables, kitchen tables, chairs, cabinets, etc. 

A professional restoration company is excellent for this type of work. They are especially best for damage cleanup caused by the water used by firefighters. This may also require the use of industrial fans. Household fans simply provide little help to the drying process. This is especially important when it comes to drying carpets. If not adequately dried, it becomes a breeding ground for mold growth.  

Another thing to think about is that firefighters sometimes use foam to put out flames. This foam contains chemicals that will require a professional to remove any residue caused by the foam. 

Mold – Remember when we talked about the possibility of mold growth on the carpet if not adequately dried? Well, where there is mold, there is water. So, carpets are not the only ones threatened by this fungus. You can expect it anywhere there is water damage. You must completely dry out these areas to avoid mold shacking up in your home. 

Who Decides What is Salvageable or Non-salvageable?

That is pretty easy when it comes to the items that are most likely non-salvageable. For example, items made out of fabrics and clothes, such as curtains, and upholstery, may need to be thrown away. This may only be the case if the flames touched the items directly. Then they will be a total loss. 

However, if they were not directly in contact with the fire, items may need a professional to clean them to remove the soot and smoke residue, making them salvageable. 

Other things that will be non-salvageable once affected by fire damage and require fire damage cleanup include perishable food, cosmetics, medications, etc. 

Can Salvaging Personal Property After a Fire Affect Your Fire Claim? 

Every homeowner should have insurance coverage for their home. If a fire attacks your home and you do not have homeowners insurance, you’ll lose everything. There are categories for items in your home that an insurance company will assess to decide whether it is considered salvageable or not. This will differ widely depending on who your insurance company is. 

There are two types of home insurance types: 

  • The first type will cover replacement and repairs to damaged homes.
  • The second type will protect detached property, like garages, barns, sheds, and fences. 

Other things to consider: 

  • Books on shelves may be charred on the outside but perfectly intact and readable on the inside. Be sure to vacuum the covers before you crack open the book to remove any charred bits. 
  • Photo album covers may have melted together, but what’s inside matters. It is recommended to take them to a conservator for advice. 
  • High heat can make metal, glass, and ceramic brittle, so handle them with extra care. 
  • Fabrics might look like they are intact but may fall apart if they aren’t handled with care.
  • When moving your belongings, use supports (plastic, boards, sheets) underneath, and you’ll be able to move them more easily and safely. 

If your home has been a fire victim and you want the best professional help, look no further. Western Disaster Clean Up has trained professionals that can get the job done quickly and safely. Contact us today to find out more! 

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