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Friday, 06 January 2012 13:11

Log Home Inspection Tips

Inspection Tips for Log Homes


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.

Faded Finish

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.

Snow Drifts

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.

Other Observations

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. is accepting log home maintenance articles from our subscribers and from log home owners. Contact us for details.

Published in Maintaining Log Homes
Thursday, 25 August 2011 15:06

Parasitic Wasps

Technical Tip by "Vince Palmare"

Parasitic Wasps

Here are three Types of Parasitic Wasps

wasp3 wasp2 wasp1

Every summer we receive calls about small flying insects making holes in the exterior surfaces of logs.  They are usually described as tiny flies, bees or flying ants but in fact are small parasitic wasps that are about the size of a fruit fly or large gnat.  There are literally hundreds of parasitic wasp species and some of them specialize in parasitizing beetle larvae including wood boring beetles.  They can be seen going in and out of existing beetle emergence holes looking for live beetle larvae to lay their eggs on.  People assume that these insects are actually burrowing into the wood since they often see frass or sawdust being pushed out of the holes they'e entered.  In their search for live beetle larvae the wasps clean out the tunnels by kicking the frass out of existing beetle emergence holes.  Since the wasps can't tell if the hole was made recently or ten years ago they tend to clean out every hole they can find.  Since they do not consume wood none of the borate treatments have any effect on them.  In this respect they are similar to carpenter bees.

Some people get excited when they see 20 or 30 of these wasps flying around their log walls but they are harmless and do not sting.  They do no damage and are, in fact, beneficial insects since they reduce the population of wood boring beetles.  Most of their activity occurs in the hot, summer months.  Once the weather starts to cool a bit they usually disappear.  If you are really upset by these insects you can spray your walls with Ortho Home Defense, Spectracide Bug Stop or similar products but being somewhat adverse to the broadcast use of contact pesticides we believe the best solution is to just ignore them.


"Vince Palmare"


Published in Maintaining Log Homes