Question: How quickly do I need to contact a restoration service company after a fire or flood?
Answer: In a word: immediately. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't realize this, and they delay. They think they can dry out their home or deal with the smoke damage on their own.
What You Should Do
Call your insurance company (to get that process started) and a restoration service company right away. Both will let you know if this is something you can handle on your own upon inspection. The restoration company will know what to look for - signs of damage, extent of damage, how bad it really is behind the walls and under flooring, etc.
If you delay, the damage will set in and oftentimes become irreversible. Floorboards, cabinets and drywall warp and crack; smoke odors settle in. Wet items need to be completely dried out within a couple days of the incident or the materials will need to be replaced or refinished; smoke-damaged items may need to be removed from the home and treated or cleaned professionally.
Experts will help you determine what you can do yourself and what needs to be treated by a professional. Keep in mind, insurance companies want to pay for as little as they can; restoration companies push to have insurance cover as much as needs to be done. In this way, a restoration company's estimates will help you, not hurt you, if you are seeking insurance coverage for repairs and replacements.
Bottom line: get a restoration company out to look at the situation as soon as possible. You won't regret getting estimates, but you very well may regret delaying.
Learn more about water damage restoration services.
Learn more about fire damage restoration services.
Sometimes fires are contained quickly enough that you only need help with the removal of smoke odors. Learn about smoke odor removal.
If you delayed getting water damage restoration services, you may have serious mold problems. Learn about mold removal processes.