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Community and Q&A

HVAC and Plumbing Safety Protocols After House Fire

moose_head27 | Posted in General Questions on

Good afternoon, just curious to know if there are any safety protocols out their with house fires in-regards to the plumbing and hvac? I seen a house with a fire in the living room, they were lucky to put it out and contained the fire but the unit is heavily smoke damaged throughout.

Some electrical was burnt which requires an electrician. I was more curious about the HVAC, I’d assume the the ductwork should be cleaned serving the furnace at a minimum. Is there anything else that should be done, change filter as well? How about plumbing, could the potable plumbing lines be compromised by smoke in anyway?


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  1. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #1

    I would absolutely change your HVAC filter.

    The possibility for plumbing damage depends on what kind of pipe you have. Copper pipe (or galvanized steel if you’re in a really old house) will be pretty resistant to fire damage to the point that I’d say the plumbing will survive past the point at which the wood structure fails.

    PVC pipe or PEX is more prone to damage, but if it’s full of water that will offer some protection. If the fire didn’t travel along any service cavities where the pipes run you’re probably ok in hidden areas. Any areas where the fire damaged things enough that you can see the pipes I’d do a visual inspection and look for any signs of damage (discoloration that doesn’t wipe off with a damp rag, or any signs of dimensional change that wouldn’t indicate the pipe material softened and deformed during the fire). Anything showing deformation or permanent discoloration should be considered suspect and be replaced. I would especially make a point of checking PVC or ABS drain lines. Note that ABS is normally black in color, so you’ll have to inspect it very carefully to make sure you don’t miss any damaged areas.

    Pipes won’t be damaged by smoke alone, it’s heat and actual fire that can damage them. Smoke alone will make things look ugly, but shouldn’t do any actual damage. You just need to wipe the smoke residue away so that you can be sure it’s not hiding and damage from heat or the fire itself.

    Metal ductwork is likely to survive but you’ll probably want to clean it so that you don’t be constantly smell smoke.

    I would hire an experienced contractor to inspect the structure of the home to be sure it’s safe. If the structure itself is unsafe, nothing else really matters.


  2. walta100 | | #2

    If they make a claim on the home owners insurance they will hire an expert contractor that does the type of clean up. They will decide what is salvageable and what must be replaced. Generally anything made of cloth is the first thing in the dumpster. I watched some of the clean up after an office building fire every square inch of carpet was replaced many of the hallway doors most everything was repainted. Dehumidifiers and air scrubber were running 24/7 for months.

    It would not surprise me if it took 2 years to get thru the claim process and the construction work.

    I do not think anything but the very smallest fire is a do it yourself project. I say you paid the insurance bills for decades now is the time to file your claim.


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