Saving Family Heirlooms after a Fire or Flood
In the past, a house fire or flood often meant throwing away everything and starting life over with nothing. Thankfully, innovations in cleaning mean that is no longer the case. Not only can items like kitchen appliances and everyday dishes often be saved, so can your family photos and grandma’s china dishes. Of course, it is not possible every single time – but Water Extraction Team (WET) has a very high success rate of saving items damaged by Cleveland-area house fires and floods.
Cleaning these items involves a multi-step process, and requires little to no effort on your part.
“Packout” is a term used by restoration companies to talk about the first step in the content cleaning process. As someone from WET evaluates the damage in your home to get the restoration process started as quickly as possible, a packout crew will come in and start carefully boxing up items that can hopefully be cleaned and saved for you.
Packouts are done very methodically, room by room. Everything is documented and inventoried, and will be kept careful track of throughout the entire cleaning process. Once the cleaning process is over, the items will be returned to the rooms from which they were originally packed up.
The Cleaning Process
As we mentioned earlier, there are a number of ways items can be cleaned.
Dishes and other solid, non-porous items can be cleaned in ultrasonic machines. These special machines are essentially wash basins filled with deionized water. That means the water is free of minerals and impurities and works very well to gently clean anything from jewelry to dishes.
Many items can also be hand washed and wiped depending on their value and fragility. There are special cleaners and solutions to gently wash away dirt and debris that may have become caked on the items during the fire or flood.
When it comes to photos, books, and other items that obviously cannot be dipped into a big vat of water, there are special dry sponges that can be used to wipe things clean. This can obviously be a pretty tedious job when you are talking hundreds or even thousands of photos, but we understand those memories are priceless and it is wonderful to be able to save them whenever possible.
This is actually another element to the cleaning process. Items that still have a smoky or moldy smell are placed in a special room with machines that completely neutralize any remaining odors. Items that come back into your home should have no smell, just look sparkly clean!
Why clean & not replace?
It can save you and your insurance company a whole lot of money by cleaning the items in your home instead of paying to replace them. Plus, this allows you to maintain some normalcy and know some of the items in your home will be there even after the disaster.
Questions about contents cleaning and what may be salvageable? Ask the WET team!