Inspection Tips for Log Homes
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Prior to repairing, preserving, maintaining or protecting, it's always best to take some time walking around the house twice per year, looking for areas that need attention. Drawing a simple diagram of your house and marking areas of concern is also a good idea; this way you won't miss any of the areas when it comes time to fix them. Things to look for include:
Open Checks or Gaps Between Logs
If you have a chinkless style house, make sure it remains chinkless. As tight as the house was when it was built, at times you'll notice separation between the logs. Perhaps your home doesn't need to have all joints chinked, but make sure the areas where air infiltration exists are attended to.
Cracks in Chinking (or separation)
If you're seeing hairline cracks on your chinking either it was applied too thin (thickness) or the application wasn't wide enough to absorb log movement. These are easily repaired. Apply some Perma-Chink over the area that needs repair and feather in with a proper stainless steel trowel. Unlike stain, which is difficult to match up, blending in Perma-Chink is quite easy. If you have areas where the chinking has come loose from the wood, this can only mean there was something on the log (mill glaze, dirt, oil, etc.) that prevented it from permanently sticking when it was applied, or enough pressure wasn't used when tooling the chinking after it was applied.
Water Stains (Interior or Exterior)
A good wood cleaner (or blonding agent) can remove water marks. But more importantly, find out where the water is coming from and resolve the problem so there are no long-term effects.
It isn't unusual for the top half of the logs to be a bit more weathered and sunburned than the bottom half since the upper half is exposed longer to the sun while the bottom half gets some shade. Faded finish is caused by the sun. This isn't causing damage to your lobs, it's just unsightly.
Loss of Water Repellency in Stain
Faded finish doesn't mean it lost its water repellency although it may have. Simply splash some water on the area. If it beads up and trickles off, you still have protection. If it seems to soak into the wood, the water protection is gone. Pretty basic stuff, but important. If you like the color of your wood 12-18 months after staining them, it's always a good idea to put on another protective clear coat.
Dusty / Dirty Logs (including mildew)
The picture below is a good example of how unsightly pollens and dust can make your logs look in 6 months. Luckily these logs had a clear coat finish over the stain making it very, very easy to wipe clean (using only water) with a sponge. Simply using Log Wash and hosing down your home once or twice a year will help keep it clean and won't give the contaminants a chance to embed themselves in the stain, which will mean more work later. At times, a mild log cleaner may be needed, but make sure it isn't so abrasive that it removes the stain.
Soft & Rotted Wood
Rotted wood is only caused by moisture. Remove all saturated, spongy wood and treat with liquid epoxy and wood filler to build the log back up. Use your judgment (or the judgement of a professional) if the log needs to be replaced. 99% of the time, it doesn't unless your home has been a victim of total neglect.
Small Holes in Logs
You'll normally find a small sawdust pile directly under these holes which are normally caused by carpenter ants or beetles. Noticing a few small holes does not necessarily mean you have a major infestation or that your logs are about to loss structural integrity. Isolate the problem and treat with borates.
After a significant snowfall you should shovel it off your deck and make sure it's not drifted up against your log wall. Keeping them continually wet is only welcoming potential mildew and loss of stain protection.
In addition, make sure your gutters are secure and in good operating working order. The lack of gutters, or downspouts or those working improperly can cause long term concerns with leaks and overflows causing damage to your logs (or deck) by keeping them continually wet.
It's best to keep your firewood pile a short distance from your home. Especially if you keep your firewood uncovered (keeping it damp), making it a prime target for termites, beetles and carpenter ants. Leaning your wet firewood up against your house makes it that much shorter of a distance the pests need to travel.
Keep brush and foliage off your logs. Keeping landscaping trimmed back and not in constant contact with your logs will keep water off your walls during rain or when watering.
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