Effective Thermal Fogging


To combat the pervasive odors left by smoke damage, what’s the best way to apply odor counteractants?

Thermal fogging most closely approximates the very small size of smoke particles, driving the particles deep inside tiny cracks, crevices and pores of surfaces, just as the original smoke deposits were created.

When properly created and applied, thermal fogging delivers excellent odor control.

Of course, fogging is just one part of the smoke damage deodorization process, which includes suppression spraying with a pressurized sprayer and thorough removal of as much of the odor source as possible by vacuuming and hand-cleaning surfaces. Some odor sources, such as tobacco smoke, may require different procedures and specially-formulated products.

Before fogging

Follow these general safety steps to ensure worker, occupant and building safety:

  • Make sure that all individuals and their pets have left the area.
  • Notify the local fire department about your intentions. Neighbors will call the fire department when they see “smoke” escaping outside from the thermal fog deodorization.
  • It is also helpful to post notices indicating that odor remediation fogging is in progress, and indicate a time when occupants may return to the area.
  • All technicians working with thermal foggers should wear respirators, eye protection and skin protection.
  • Shut off all open flames, including pilot lights.
  • Cover or disable smoke detectors.
  • Cover fish tanks and food containers.
  • Familiarize yourself with all operating controls and safety procedures for the fogging equipment.

Preparing areas for fogging

These preparations will help to ensure maximum effectiveness of your fogging procedures:

  • Close all exterior windows and doors.
  • Open all cabinets, closets and drawers in the affected area.
  • Drawers should be stair-stepped — bottom drawer opened furthest, next drawer opened slightly less and so on.

Fogging techniques

Technicians should always work in teams of two. One person sets up a room then guides the technician with the fogger backward out of the area being fogged. Plan the fogging pattern so that the technician and teammate can always move away from the fogged area.

Here are the steps to follow when fogging:

  1. First fog all of the open drawers, closets and cabinets.
  2. Begin in the farthest corner of the room and move backward with your teammate guiding you safely out of the room. This helps to minimize exposure to the fog.
  3. As you finish one room, move to the farthest corner inside the next room. Repeat this process, room by room, until you have reached the building’s exit door.

When finished fogging, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper shutdown procedures and equipment cleanup. Any unused product can be returned to the original container.

Be sure to leave the treated area undisturbed for at least a half hour to an hour. This allows for maximum penetration of the fog into all crevices, pores and surfaces.

Then ventilate the area thoroughly for a minimum of a half hour. Individuals with respiratory or other health sensitivities should ask their healthcare professional if additional ventilation is advisable.

When properly applied, thermal fogging can provide a level of odor control that is unmatched by any other tool available to the restoration technician.

For more information about thermal fogging, contact a certified instructor for Odor Control Technician or Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician classes.


Gary Loiben is a technical training instructor with the Restoration Sciences Academy, and has trained thousands of restoration and cleaning professionals in the principles of fire, odor and water damage restoration. He holds several designations and certifications related to restoration, including AMRT, MR, CMRT and CIE. He is a graduate of Dale Carnegie Human Relations and Public Speaking, and a former assistant instructor for this prestigious program.

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