How Dry Ice Blasting Restored an Apartment Building Pummeled by Dual Blazes
When an electrical fire damaged the left side of a 12-unit apartment building in southern Indiana in 2021, residents and responders likely thought the worst was behind them.
But before the restoration was completed, a second fire broke out on the building’s other side, leading to months of additional remediation efforts.
The second blaze is believed to have ignited after an ember dropped through a floor cavity as a company doing repairs to the undamaged side of the building was soldering a pipe. The resulting fire engulfed the right side of the building and re-blanketed the entire building with smoke and soot.
The fire restoration experts at Louisville, Kentucky-based PuroFirst Disaster Services found themselves having to repeat much of the restoration work they’d already completed.
Dry Ice for the Win: Doubling Down on Labor-Saving Fire Restoration
With months of work behind them to re-do, PuroFirst COO Chase Hunter was more than happy to be able to incorporate the labor-saving benefits of dry ice blasting, which the 28-year-old company has used as part of its fire remediation efforts for over a decade.
Hunter said the “efficiency” of dry ice cleaning for removing soot and grime from surfaces that include structural framing, floor joist cavities, trusses, ceiling joists, and masonry is the biggest selling point. “A lot of that is just not having to do a major physical cleanup,” he said.
Unlike other types of media blasting, like soda blasting, he said, dry ice blasting doesn’t leave residue that needs to be cleaned up afterwards. Because dry ice cleaning uses pellets of frozen CO2, it sublimates on contact and requires minimal post-blast cleanup. “Other media types create such a mess with the cleanup,” Hunter said.
In the case of the apartment fire, dry ice blasting was also the more cost-effective option, he said.
Hunter said the company had priced another media for comparison purposes and found that while the quoted price was less expensive, “the amount of additional prep to contain the media and clean up afterward” added labor costs that would made it “roughly 25% more” than dry ice blasting.
When a local provider was unable to do the apartment fire restoration, PuroFirst turned to Polar Clean. As expected, dry ice blasting got the job done quickly and with no mess. As an unexpected benefit, the work was finished two days ahead of schedule, a bonus Hunter attributed to “efficiency” by the Polar Clean team.
For a disaster that ballooned to over $2.5 million in damages, the speed and cost-effectiveness of dry ice blasting was a welcome benefit.
Cleaning out Nooks & Crannies with Dry Ice
According to Hunter, the apartment fire work was a “perfect example” of a project where dry ice blasting is the right solution, both because of the amount of structural framing involved and the number of “nooks and crannies” where other media-blasting options deposit debris that would have to be cleaned out.
As a result, dry ice blasting can play a key part in a three-part fire restoration process, Hunter said.
- Dry ice blasting to clean surfaces of any standing soot
- Deodorizing the building with ozone, a thermal fogger, or hydroxyls
- Encapsulating the cleaned areas with a sealer over all porous surfaces
“It was a pretty standard use for us,” Hunter said. “It pretty well performed as expected. We were pleased.”
Reliable, Experienced Dry Ice Blasting for Fire Restoration
At Polar Clean, our dry ice cleaning formulations, proprietary nozzles, equipment, and processes make us the right choice for a wide variety of applications, including fire restoration.
From a fire damaged cathedral ceiling, to a beetle-damaged wooden distillery, a grime coated historic terminal and a fountain that had fallen into disrepair, our work takes us into many settings where we tackle an unending variety of cleaning challenges.
To learn more about how Polar Clean can help with your next restoration or cleaning project, contact us and speak with one of our dry ice blasting experts.