Experiencing a fire in your home can be a life-altering event resulting in tremendous damage. Once you’ve assessed your losses, though, it’s time to evaluate what can be salvaged. While several things may appear ruined, you can restore electronics from smoke and soot damage. Here are a few tips to help you save your valuables.
1. Evaluate the damage
After a fire, you should not power on any of your electronics until you’ve evaluated them for damage. Unplug all of your devices and make sure they are not connected to any power sources. This includes removing all batteries.
Because these items are comprised of wires, metal, plastic, and other materials that can release toxins when exposed to high temperatures, you should take caution when handling them. If you attempt to turn them on, you may permanently ruin them or cause an electrical fire.
2. Remove memory cards
You need to be realistic and recognize that not all your electronics will be repairable. With this in mind, make sure to remove all your memory cards, hard drives, and SIM cards so at the very least you can salvage your stored information and files.
3. Wipe surfaces
Damage can occur both inside and outside of your devices. You can begin restoring your electronics from smoke and soot damage by first wiping their surfaces with a damp cloth. This will allow you to assess damages as well as clean off corrosive chemicals. Remove any protective shells and cases to determine if you can wipe down interior components as well.
4. Blow out residue
Use an air compressor to blow out smoke and soot from the interior of your electronics. Make sure to clean out all the vents, ports, outlets, and crevices. Leftover residue can cause your devices to overheat, short circuit, or malfunction. Cleaning out the interior will make it safer to inspect and evaluate to determine if your electronics can be salvaged and repaired.
5. Air dry
Once you clean the exterior and interior of as much residue as you can, let your electronic devices air out. This will allow any remaining moisture to dry, preventing further damage or mold from developing. This will also help eliminate smoke odors.
6. Seek professional help
When all else fails, contact a professional who can evaluate, clean, and repair your electronics for you. They are specially trained to assess your property and provide smoke damage restoration services. Professional services can be expensive so you should determine beforehand if the cost equals the value of the items being repaired.
7. File an insurance claim
Your insurance company will do its own assessment of the fire damage done to your property and may pay to restore your electronics from smoke and soot damage. However, if it is determined they are unsalvageable, you may make a claim to have your items replaced up to the amount allowable by your home and fire insurance coverage and reimbursement limits. Also, check warranties as they may cover damage due to fire, too.