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Black Soot – What Is It and Why Is It in My House?

An issue that has plagued homeowners for years, black soot mysteriously damaging and discoloring walls and furniture. Only within the last 20 years has there been hard evidence supporting an cause for black soot deposition (BSD) inside homes.

If you notice your once clean air filter is now completely black, and your newly painted walls accumulate a dark and grimy tinge, black soot is the culprit – but the root cause still needs to be determined.

How it Gets in Your House

Soot originates from the incomplete combustion of carbon. When carbon burns cleanly, it leaves little residue, but when it doesn’t, you’re left with a black, flaky substance. The reason why soot is not combusting completely in your house could as simple as scented candles.

While it might seem appealing to have candles throughout your house for their pleasant smell and calming atmosphere they help create, some scented candles are not efficient at burning, which leads to black marks (ghosting) above the area or on furniture near where the candle burns.

Furnaces can also be to blame for these unsightly marks in your home. If they aren’t properly burning carbon, then they are just as likely to produce soot as candles. Gas furnaces require proper maintenance, and soot could be a sign your furnace needs looked at by a professional.

This can also be the case if your gas water heater is not functioning properly. Black soot near appliances is not normal and should be looked at by a professional.

While black soot might look harmless, like dust, it is anything but. Ingesting soot particles is not healthy. Continuous burning of scented candles with little regard for the amount of dangerous particles floating in the air leads to upper respiratory complications such as asthma, bronchitis, or even coronary heart disease. It’s simply not worth the potential health risks to burn low quality candles or ignore malfunctioning appliances.

How to Prevent and Treat Black Soot

Compleat Restorations can eliminate soot damage for homeowners. With 40 years of experience in the field, we’re well-equipped to get the job done. Here’s information on prevention, and how to treat black soot.

Soot from Candles

If your soot is a product of burning scented candles, then the first and most surefire way of stopping soot from further ruining your home is to stop burning as many candles. If that is not something you want to give up, you must follow stricter standards when deciding what candles you want to buy and how you are going to burn them.

A general rule of thumb for candle users should be that cheap candles will likely not be made with the safest and cleanest materials and are more likely to have chemical properties that are conducive to incomplete combustion and a production of soot. If burning candles is a must, avoid burning the candle for more than an hour and seek out candles that burn evenly. Candles of higher quality are made of a harder wax.

If the damage has already been done and black soot covers a portion of your wall, you need to thoroughly clean the wall before going forward with repainting. Painting over the soot will not work.

Soot from Appliances

As for dealing with soot that resulted from major appliances, performing routine maintenance on them is a great way to make sure your furnace or water heater works properly, and when it isn’t, you catch it early on and prevent further damage.

It’s more than likely that you are not fully-equipped to deal with a soot-related issue as a result of your major appliances malfunctioning, so please do not hesitate to call a professional immediately so the issue does not worsen.

Black soot is unfortunate and unsightly, but its impact on your belongings doesn’t need to be permanent. Compleat Restorations is equipped to deal with soot damage by using a method known as dry ice blasting that will have your possessions looking as good as new. Contact us today to learn more.