Posted on September 6, 2023
Log Home Maintenance Tips
Log homes need to be re-stained and caulked from time to time. Stain protects the logs from the sun’s UV rays and helps them last longer. It’s a good idea to stain whichever part of your cabin gets the most sunlight and to re-stain every 3-4 years.
Thorough cleaning and inspections can prevent some major issues with your log home or cabin. Contact Richardson Log Homes LLC to check your log home. Here are some things to look for:
Check For Water Damage
Keeping moisture out is key to maintaining the life of logs. If a log is exposed to constant moisture the wood will begin to break down and eventually rot. It is important to check your home for any areas where moisture can get in. It is also a good idea to check for any leaking from the roof, flashing chimney, and gutters each year.
If you find a leaking area on your log home, it is important to look for the source of the leak. Leaks can often be caused by a gap in the chinking or caulking, but sometimes it is more serious. Make sure to inspect the entire chink line and not just the affected area. Look for signs of moisture and mold on the logs as well. Mold will cause the rot to progress faster and can leave behind a black stain that is very difficult to remove.
Look for popped knots, cracks or checks in the logs, loose caulking, rotting posts, and girders, bare areas of logs, mildew, mold, faded stain, or any other signs of moisture. These can all indicate moisture problems and should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent costly repairs.
A customer of ours once called us to say she saw some small cracks (called checks) in her log walls and was convinced her home was falling apart.
Moisture can be caused by many things such as shady trees, drippy rooflines, or even splashback from the driveway. It is also important to clean the logs and surrounding areas of your home each fall with a product or another oxygenated bleach cleaner, to remove any dirt and spores that may promote fungus and mildew growth in the future.
Keeping your landscaping away from your log home is also essential to help keep moisture away from the logs. Make sure that plants and shrubs are not too close to the logs or foundation and move piles of firewood and leaves away from your house.
Check For Pests
Log cabins attract insects and wood-destroying critters, so checking for them regularly is an important part of log home maintenance. The good news is that most wood-eating pests are more interested in food than the logs themselves, so keeping your home clean and free of food sources should help keep them at bay. Inspecting the exterior for signs of infestation is the best way to catch problems in the bud before they have time to cause major damage. Look for a variety of clues, including irregularly sized holes that are concentrated close together, small piles of sawdust, and even the actual insects themselves.
The most common wood-eating bugs that can invade a log home include carpenter ants, termites, and beetles. Look for entry points around doors, windows, and sill plates, as well as any places where rain or splash could linger on the logs. If you find any of these, seal them as soon as possible to keep out moisture, mold, and insects.
You should also inspect for signs of insects in the ground surrounding your cabin. Termites and beetles are particularly attracted to humid areas, so a dehumidifier should be installed in the house and overheating during winter should be avoided. In addition, it is a good idea to spread barrier sand (or termite sand), which can be found at most hardware stores, around the foundation of your cabin. This will create an 8″ distance between the ground and the first layer of logs, so termites and beetles can’t reach them to munch on the wood inside.
It is also a good idea to hose down the outside of your log home once or twice a year to remove dirt that would otherwise eat away at your stain. You can use a high-pressure washer to make short work of this, but be sure to cover any openings to prevent water from seeping into your logs.
Finally, be sure to keep trees and shrubbery trimmed away from your logs. Overgrown landscaping can block sunlight from reaching your logs, creating a more humid environment that can encourage mold and mildew growth and invite bugs.
Clean The Exterior
Log cabins are often built in or near natural surroundings like forests, lakes, rivers, and giant fields. These surroundings can create a build-up of mud, moss, and mowed grass on the exterior of your log home. Regular cleaning of the exterior of your log home can help protect it from stains and other damage.
Keeping the outside of your log home clean will also help prevent fungus and other pests from forming in your home. This can be done by regularly hosing down the exterior walls of your log home with a non-toxic outdoor cleaner and scrubbing the surface with a long-handled scrub brush. Using a pressure washer at a moderate nozzle setting can help reduce splatter marks and damage to the wood fibers.
Removing the dirt and other debris from your log cabin will also help extend the life of the stain or topcoat on your home. It is best to use a chemical stripper that is safe for the environment and your logs. It is suggested that sandblasting or cob blasting can be used to remove an old finish but recommended to use this as a last resort.
Once you have cleaned your log cabin, it is recommended that you apply a wood preservative to the exterior of your home. This will stop any areas of rot in their tracks and keep pests such as termites and carpenter bees from entering your log home. After the wood preservative has had time to soak into the wood, it is recommended that you re-stain your log home. This will add to the beauty of your log cabin while offering protection against moisture, fading UV rays, and organic growth such as mold or mildew.
It is recommended that you re-stain your log cabin every three years to ensure that it stays in good condition. After you re-stain, you should also consider re-chinking your home to make sure the gaps between logs are closed. This will help to keep cold air out and warm air in and can save you money on energy bills.
Inspect The Roof
Log homes can experience significant structural damage from improper roof structures. It’s important to inspect the roof regularly for humps and valleys, sagging or missing shingles, and rotting caulking. Check that the flashing around chimneys and enclosing plumbing vents is tight and that there are no large gaps between the walls and the roof deck. In addition, check that the deck is well-constructed and that there are no rotted areas in or under it.
Also, look for signs of rot in the ceiling joists and rafters. These areas should be sanded and re-treated with a shell guard to prevent the onset of fungus and mildew. If you have a cathedral ceiling check that the tongue-and-groove paneling is not showing water stains or matted areas. Examine the underside of the eaves to see if any exposed timbers extend beyond the overhand or are nailed directly to the logs, as these areas are particularly vulnerable to moisture intrusion. It’s best to consult a professional electrician and plumber who are familiar with working in log homes.
Air Leakage – Even though logs are air-dried for up to a year before construction they can still contain 15-20% moisture after being built. This moisture can cause a contraction and expansion cycle that leads to gaps between logs. This allows warm moist air to escape and cold dry air to enter, which can lead to structural problems, such as rot.
Check the condition of the chinking (sealant between the logs). If the stain is deteriorating it can allow sun damage to the logs and may also provide entry points for wood-destroying insects. A good test is to spray the logs with water – if it beads up and doesn’t soak in, the stain is effective.
Finally, check the condition of the door and window buckets (the frames that hold the glass) to see if they are sagging or rotted. These areas are especially vulnerable to moisture intrusion because they’re not protected by the overhang of the roof. Also, examine the wood floors to make sure they are level and free of excessive wear. If the floor is solid hardwood you can typically re-sand it two or three times before you need to replace it.