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How to Clean Soot Off Brick

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Unfortunately, even after extinguishing the flames, you’re not out of the woods entirely.

Yes, the imminent danger of fire is gone, but soot, not to mention smoke damage, and ash can impose severe complications on your property and your health if not properly removed.

So how can you remove soot from brick walls or fireplaces?

This article will answer any concerns about soot: from what it is to the different kinds, and our recommendations about clean-up.

What is soot, and is it dangerous?

Soot is a black or brown powder composed of tiny carbon particles created when fuel, such as coal, oil, or wood, is burned.

The small particles can cause health problems if you breathe them in as they contain many acids, chemicals, metals, soils, and dust.

Soot can also damage your clothes, furniture, and carpets.

One extremely pesky thing about soot is that it can contaminate your property even if a fire doesn’t occur.

For example, using candles excessively can result in a build-up of soot, in addition to fireplaces and furnaces, if frequently used and not adequately ventilated.

What’s more, large masses of soot – like in a chimney – can re-ignite!

So, although the amount of soot the average home accumulates is less in many cases, it is still a hazard worth eliminating.

The three types of soot

Oily soot

Oily soot results from the combustion of lubricating oils, hydraulic fluids, or motor oils.

It is black and sticky, difficult to remove, and smudges easily.

Wet soot

Wet soot comes from low and slow-burning fires, which are oxygen-starved.

As a result of the lower burning temperature, liquid contaminants remain in the particles.

This type of soot omits the most pungent odours, as water molecules in the air hold the scent.

Wet soot is a sticky residue and will smear on surfaces causing discolouration, so, for this reason, we do not recommend attempting to clean wet soot by vacuuming or dry wiping.

Dry soot

Dry soot comes from high and fast-burning fires over 500 degrees.

This soot is grey and a crumbly powder that thankfully doesn’t smear, making it the easiest to clean up.

Since dry soot is easier to clean, it can be removed with a HEPA vacuum and dry-cleaning methods.

Soot and brick are not a good pair

When attempting to clean soot from bricks by yourself, it’s important to note that household cleaners and a dust mask are insufficient to clean soot effectively.

So, even if you are a professional DIYer, it is in your best interest (for your home and your safety) to call in a licensed fire restoration company with the requisite knowledge and equipment to get the job done.

Bricks are soot magnets.

There are two types of bricks, sealed and unsealed.

And unsealed bricks – as you’ve probably guessed – do not have a sealant to cover all those pores.

To make matters worse, soot particles are microscopic.

One soot particle is 100 nanometres, which is 0.000000001 metres in diameter.

With that being said, imagine how many soot particles can cosy into brick pores.

Unfortunately, the porosity of bricks makes cleaning soot even more problematic.

Bricks soak up water just as quick as a sheet of paper, and if you were to saturate them to rinse off any soot, especially without proper ventilation, you run the risk of cracking your bricks which can compromise the soundness of your structure.

Water is one of the worst things you can use for soot removal; in addition to compromising the integrity of your bricks, it makes soot stains more difficult to remove, and they become more unsightly.

So, how can you remove soot from brickwork?

The best way to remove soot from bricks

For minor smoke damage

If you have only a tiny amount of fire damage and must get your hands in there, the best thing is to use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove the top layer of soot.

Using a HEPA vacuum will prevent the redistribution of soot onto other surfaces.

After removing the top layer, use a non-aggressive chemical to prevent unnecessary damage to the brick.

We do not advise using alkaline or acid-based products as they will remove the top layers of bricks, causing an increased vulnerability to moisture.

Whether the fire was small, always use tried, tested, and approved personal protective gear like boots, gloves, masks, and goggles to ensure your safety.

For extensive smoke damage

We care about your safety, so we would never advise anyone with extensive smoke and fire damage to clean it themselves.

However, as previously mentioned, soot and the fumes from burnt materials can be hazardous and, in some cases, fatal; therefore, smoke damage remediation should be left to the professionals for your health and safety.

Our technicians will formulate a remediation plan that will leave you with optimal results.

At Vinci Response, we follow health and safety procedures to get the best results for your property.

Before any remediation, our technicians are covered from head to toe in specialized protective gear consisting of full-body suits, boots, and respirators to ensure their safety.

We only use acquired specialized techniques to efficiently remove the aftermath of a fire, including smoke, soot, odours, and hazardous particles.

As part of our smoke damage remediation, we ensure that any areas affected by the fire have pungent odours removed.

We will properly restore your space to its original condition to prevent long-lasting smells.

We guarantee your building is safe to enter, which prevents secondary damages, and will help you identify your valuables to determine what you would like restored.

In addition, we will extract any water remnant from the fire and extinguishment, manage asbestos, and remove and dispose of compromised materials safely.

Vinci Response are professionals in soot and ash removal and smoke damage restoration.

We have the expertise to get your property back to its original condition quickly and efficiently.

If you are in the aftermath of a fire, don’t hesitate to call Vinci Response for assistance.

We provide fast estimates and responses to get your property back into its prime condition.

Our team is comprised solely of recognized technicians who will reassure you every step of the way and demonstrate what 5-star service looks like.

Find Out More About Vinci Response

Now that you know the advantages of dry ice blasting over sandblasting, you can decide which process is best for your needs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, and we will be happy to help.

For additional information or a quote, call us at 0333 577 2996 or email us at [email protected].