There’s more to fire damage than meets the eye. Fire can also cause hidden damages that may not be as easily visible. The two main culprits: smoke/soot damage and water damage. Knowing about these additional impacts on your property, and how to properly take care of them, helps ensure you’re reimbursed appropriately for your claim.

Smoke/Soot Damage

Smoke/soot damage is one of the primary hidden damages of the fire loss. Here are some things to look for to determine whether you have smoke damage:

  • Stained fabric and upholstery
  • Paint discoloration.
  • Rust, pitting and corrosion of piping, jewelry and other metal objects
  • Strong odor
  • Flooring damage

You need to take care of smoke and soot damage, and pronto! This is not the time for a DIY fix in an attempt to save a few bucks on your home’s restoration after a fire. Your insurance policy will cover the cost of hiring a professional to remove smoke and soot damage from your home.

Failure to properly deal with smoke/soot damage can cause long-term issues for your health as well as your property. Exposure to smoke/soot during fire restoration can occur via the skin and eyes, inhalation and ingestion. Because airborne soot particulate is invisible, you may unknowingly be affected. Once soot enters your bloodstream, it can cause respiratory issues, shortness of breath, bronchitis, asthma, stroke, heart attack, cancer, and even premature death. In infants, even short-term exposure to soot has been shown to have lifelong health consequences.

Because it can linger on surfaces and get inside of your electronics, appliances and other property, soot is usually a significant contributor to property damage after a fire. Plus the longer it remains, the harder it is to remove. So make sure you hire a professional cleaning service who knows how to get the job done as soon as possible.

Water Damage

Before dealing with the fire damage created by smoke/soot, you must first deal with the water damage. Although it’s a relief when firefighters put out the fire, pouring all that water on the flames results in water damage that can cause significant structural issues, damage to your electronic devices, appliances, furniture and important documents and, if not remedied quickly, hazardous mold growth.

Black mold can release dangerous spores into the air that can cause nausea, headaches and severe respiratory problems especially susceptible for children, the elderly and people with deficient immune systems. Pets can also be susceptible to health problems associated with the proliferation of black mold.

It’s important to take care of water damage as soon as possible so (1) you can get on with the rest of the resulting damage, and (2) to ensure hazardous mold does not grow in your property and negatively impact the health of you and your family. This is something affected homeowners cannot realistically be expected to do on their own. The only real viable solution to the dangerous effects of water damage is to hire a professional emergency restoration service, the cost of which is covered by your insurance policy when the result of water damage related to a common peril, like a fire.

The Role of Public Adjusters

Even when traumatized by the tragic event of a house fire, many of our clients tell us that they find comfort in knowing they’re insured. But your insurance company won’t just cut a check; you must complete a detailed inventory of your damaged property – including the critical but often hidden damages caused by smoke, soot and water.

Miller Public Adjusters can help you with the entire process to ensure your claim is handled correctly and completely. If you need someone in your corner, we’re here for you. Let us know how we can help.


Decisions made and actions taken during the first six months after a fire will largely determine what kind of claim settlement you’ll receive from your insurance company.

first six months ebook cover