The Nose Knows
Here’s an interesting story of a contents manager who was faced with an interesting challenge!
There had been a chimney fire. The homeowner climbed up on his roof and extinguished the blaze by spraying a fire extinguisher down the chimney from above. It worked, but there was a large amount of smoke. When the homeowner opened his front door to go back in, the resulting draft sucked the smoke and soot back down the chimney and through the house.
The smoke billowed through a trophy room of mounted animal heads, coating everything in its path and saturating various items with strong smoke odors. The moose, elk, and deer trophies were fragile, so the contents manager decided not to use soot sponges as it may remove the hair from the taxidermy. Instead she used strong HEPA-filtered vacuums and a mild cleaning solution for the eyes and antlers.
In the kitchen, soot sponges were used first to determine whether there were smoke particles on the inside of the cabinets (if a sponge is passed gently over a smoke-laden cabinet or counter, it will come back with black smears or dark lines). Discovering no soot or ash on the surface of the cabinets nor on the inside, she opted not to clean out the insides of the cabinets and shelves, then went back for a final check of everything else.
What is the final check? The same one the homeowner would eventually use – the sniff test! The contents professional came within an inch of the taxidermy and sniffed along the fur- no smoke odor could be detected. The nose knows!
The manager mentioned that had there been any smoke or soot in the cupboards, she would have thrown out all the opened boxes of food and even those sealed boxes with thin cardboard containers or even thinner plastic bags where there would be too much risk of contamination. Of course nothing is discarded without talking things over with the owner and getting a “disposal authorization” form signed.
That is how we here at SERVPRO of Elizabeth City/Outer Banks perform: easy, simple, and well thought out.