While fire and water damage are catastrophic and life-threatening, smoke can still cause significant damage to property as well as affect your respiratory system. Keep reading for some tips on detecting and repairing the smoke damage.

How Does Smoke Damage Happen?

The saying goes, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” but in our case, the opposite is true. Dinner go up in smoke? Dirty flue above the fireplace? Candles in enclosed spaces? All these things cause smoke, especially if the area is not well ventilated. Other more noticeable causes of smoke damage are cigarettes and cigars being used in the home and actual fire emergencies. Smoke will typically drift off on its silent, invisible way to infiltrate your ceilings, walls, furniture and any porous surface it can find. This clinging quality of the smoke is what can make it permanently damaging and difficult to clean after a fire.

What can be damaged by smoke? Where should I look?

Smoke often drifts with air currents and tends to move toward colder temperatures. Keep that in mind while investigating. Look for discoloration and sniff around for the lingering smell. If you believe you may have smoke damage, whether from a small fire or a large one, try checking these places in your home.


Smoke molecules easily cling to most surfaces. They are particularly noticeable on cloth or fiber materials such as curtains, carpets, pillows, etc. But over time, smoke will also eat away at metal, laminate, and wood. Rusting, peeling, pitting, discoloration and warping can occur just from smoke damage, without ever being touched by fire.

Ceilings and walls

Check directly above where the fire started; this is where most smoke assumedly will have hit the ceiling. You may see black or yellow discoloration. Smoke can not only peel paint but affect the structure of a wall or ceiling. Check any exposed nail heads. It’s not uncommon for the smoke to creep into attics and crawl spaces.

Outside walls, windows, and doors

As already stated, smoke follows air currents and is attracted to cooler temperatures. Therefore, it is easily pulled through cracks and crevices until it gets outside. The smoke currents often leave trailing lines of residue outside doors and windows.

Enclosed spaces

It is quite common to find smoke damage in confined spaces such as closets, drawers, and secluded corners. As smoke travels and cools, it begins to fall. Since these enclosed spaces will be lower in temperature by default, smoke naturally gravitates toward them.

Air Ducts

Air ducts are a no-brainer. If the air in your house is on, it will be sucked into the air ducts. But even when the system isn’t running, smoke still prefers the lower temperature ductwork. This creates a tunnel to rooms far away from the fire, resulting in fire damage to areas that would otherwise have seen little or no impact from the blaze.

Your lungs

If you or a loved one are exposed to smoke for an extended period, seek medical attention immediately. Signs of damage are typically coughing and shortness of breath. If you are caught in a smoke-filled room, get low to the ground and get out as quickly and safely as possible.

What can I do about Smoke Damage?

Special equipment is needed to eliminate smoke damage from most items. Professional cleanup services like Pulliam Restoration have the tools to restore furniture, walls, documents and many other contents from your home from the smoke damage. Here are some tips on what to do while you wait for help. Please do not enter a burning building. Wait until it is safe to enter.


  • Brush-vacuum or blow off loose soot particles from carpeting, upholstery, and drapes.
  • Cover upholstery with clean sheets before using them again.
  • Tape doubled pieces of cheesecloth over air registers with masking tape.
  • Get the air moving by opening windows to ventilate areas. Run a fan to circulate air.
  • Change the furnace filter daily until it shows no soot.


  • Enter the property before a safety inspection by a professional.
  • Attempt to clean ceilings or walls yourself.
  • Use do-it-yourself home carpet or upholstery cleaners.

Pulliam Restoration has the specialized equipment and training to restore your belongings and home after significant smoke damage. Call right away. If left untreated, smoke can eat away at surfaces and objects, taking more time to repair and costing you more money.  If you experience water, fire, or smoke damage, call us 24/7 at 803-785-5426.