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How Fire Affects Building Structure Materials Without Professional Fire Damage Restoration in Washington County, PA

January 26th, 2016 · No Comments

Fires are one of the most damaging disasters that can happen in your business. When your building is exposed to a fire, virtually every part of the building materials are weakened in varying degrees. Only with comprehensive damage assessment can a full post-fire recovery begin. At ServiceMaster Professional Building Maintenance, we provide expert fire damage restoration in Washington County, PA.

During a building fire, temperatures can reach up to 1200ºC (around 2,200ºF), though most do not exceed 980ºC (1800ºF).

Masonry and cement can be weakened after a fire, despite the seeming durability of these materials. Because of the intense heat released during a fire, thermal expansion is inevitable. When a material cannot endure the stress of the thermal expansion, that material undergoes thermal shock, often causing cracks, brittleness, and weak points.

 Timber is highly susceptible to becoming fuel for a building fire. Even treated timber can quickly go up in flames. Wood begins to brown and discolor at around 150ºC (300ºF)—a temperature even lower than that needed to bake chocolate chip cookies. When atmospheric temperatures hit 300ºC (around 570ºF), wood begins to combust and undergo irreversible damage.

 Steel loses around half its yield strength at 550ºC (around 1000ºF), and because steel and other metals are thermal conductors, these materials often reach the same temperature as the fire. At average peak fire temperatures, most metals will reduce down to 10% yield strength. Steel beams, windows, door frames, and other supports will lose much of their stability and flexibility in a fire.

 Glass, used commonly in commercial construction, will crack or weaken at temperatures of 150-200ºC (around 300ºF), and since most fires go far beyond that heat level, it’s typical for all exposed windows to sustain post-fire damage. Along with thermal shock damage, glass can melt or deform at around 1400ºC (2,550ºF) in extreme fire cases.

 Most building materials lose significant structural strength when exposed to above 250ºC (around 480ºF). However, while thermal damage is the most severe effect that fire has on a building’s structure, there are other long-term problems incurred after a fire. For example, porous materials collect soot and smoke residue, polluting your indoor environment long after the majority of the fire damage has been restored. Learn more about how fire works here.

For more information about our fire damage restoration services in Washington County, PA, contact us at ServiceMaster Professional Building Maintenance by calling 412.372.7771.


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