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Different Types of Disinfectants After Water & Fire Damage Restoration

Published by Allegra on August 26, 2021 in category: Uncategorized

Disinfectants spray bottleFire and water damage restoration involves sanitizing the place after everything is done to ensure that the place is safe for occupants. The goal is to maintain the air quality inside and get rid of any pathogen colonies formed in the damaged areas.

Disaster restoration companies use different home and commercial disinfectants to control or stop the growth of microorganisms. These disinfectants are known as antimicrobials.

On the other hand, biocides are compounds that get rid of a much wider spectrum of bacteria, pathogens, and other living organisms. This includes fungi, molds, bacteria, viruses, and more.

An antimicrobial or biocide suitable for one property (let’s say a house on a hill) might not be suitable for another (on a commercial property downtown). When you hire a home restoration company, they send over a technician to determine the type of damage and disinfectant that should be used.

For example, biocides are much stronger and thorough, but using them for category 1 water damage restoration might not be as cost-effective. Instead, they are more suitable for Category 2 or 3 water damage (for example sewage leakages).

There are also regulatory concerns to keep in mind when using any disinfectant. In the US, all disinfectants for fire or water damage restoration must be EPA-approved so there are no long-term disadvantages of using said disinfectant. According to the EPA, there are three types of disinfectants:

  1. Low-level disinfectants. These are low-strength disinfectants, meaning they only get rid of major pathogens.
  2. Intermediate-level disinfectant. They get rid of a majority of pathogens and bacteria. It is typically a hospital-grade disinfectant and is what most home restoration jobs demand, especially if the water was contaminated.
  3. High-level disinfectants. These disinfectants are regulated by the FDA as medical devices as they quite literally kill anything on the surface on which they are applied. They can have a potentially adverse impact on the environment and, therefore, need to be used very carefully. Restoration companies usually use these disinfectants in crime scenes and other biohazardous areas.

What Are The Sanitizers Used After Fire or Water Damage?

911 Restoration of West Palm Beach uses “sanitizers” for fire and water damage unless the contamination level is extreme. These are EPA and FDA-approved chemicals with a low level of biocidal activity. They are designed to reduce microbial activity to potentially zero or a safe level, i.e., 99.90% kill rate.

To qualify EPA and FDA standards, sanitizers need to act quickly and have a dwell time of 30 seconds or less. Sanitizers are suitable for use on wood, carpet, upholstery, curtains, fabric, and other soft surfaces.

Other Types of Disinfectants for Fire & Water Damage

Hypochlorites

One of the most common types of disinfectants, sodium hypochlorite is also known as “bleach.” It can be found in the market as a solution of 5.25%. When using bleach, it must be mixed at a ratio of 10:1 (water to bleach). The yielded solution is now suitable for soft and hard surfaces alike.

Bleach is inexpensive and readily available, hence is recommended by the EPA for use in homes. There are some safety concerns for the human skin, though, which is why sanitization should be left to professionals.

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)

A very common oxidizing bleach usually used in crime scenes and taxidermy, hydrogen peroxide is available in different strengths. For fire and water damage restoration and sanitization, a 3% to 5% concentration is used. If hydrogen peroxide has corrosive properties, which means if it is used on fabric, it may discolor.

Hydrogen peroxide quickly breaks down into water and oxygen after use, leaving behind a soft sludge that can be cleaned up fairly easily. It should be used on pre-cleaned surfaces, though. H2O2 is expensive and therefore not preferred in the homes restoration industry unless specifically asked for.

Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most common antiseptics used in the restoration industry. Isopropyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol are both used as disinfectants in homes. It tends to leave a sharp odor behind for a few minutes, which is why it is advised that alcohol only be used when no one is home.

This disinfectant is used commonly after fire damage but not water damage as it is very effective on bacteria but not so much on mold.

A 60% concentration of alcohol is needed for it to be classified as an “effective disinfectant.” Alcohol is highly flammable; so, it is usually missed with other disinfectants to boost effectiveness.

Glutaraldehyde

One of the most effective disinfectants against mold and organic matter, this non-corrosive disinfectant is very common in the fire, mold, and water damage restoration industry. It is used as an ingredient in sanitizers and disinfectants.

It is highly effective against spores as it breaks organic matter down without being corrosive. However, it is highly toxic and can lead to nose, eyes, throat, and lung irritation. If inhaled, it may cause dizziness and headaches.

This is why glutaraldehyde is not commonly used in the restoration industry at full strength.

Other types include;

  • Iodophors
  • Phenolics and
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds

You may see them being used as ingredients in other disinfectants.

Different disinfectants are suitable for achieving different goals. Using the wrong disinfectant may have adverse impacts on property occupants as well as the environment – not to mention it may cost more as well.

911 Restoration has highly trained technicians and over 30 years of experience working in the fire and water damage restoration industry. We employ EPA and FDA-approved disinfectants to help you improve the air quality of your property and live a healthier, safer life. Give us a call now to schedule a service or to get a FREE quote!

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