Log homes are beautiful, with a style and charm all their own. And whether you’re building a new one, purchasing an existing one, or are already living in one, it’s important to understand some of the common issues and repairs that they face.
While not every log home will deal with all of these issues, make sure that you keep an eye out for them, as they can develop if steps are not taken to address common problems. With diligence and timely maintenance, your log home can last for years. Pay attention to these 11 common issues to help ensure that your log home looks and functions at its best for the longest possible time.
1. Rotting Logs
Log homes made of true wood logs will face rot over time. Logs that are not lifted or protected from the ground can absorb water and begin to rot over time. Logs that are also exposed to “splash backs” or water that splashes off of decks and overhangs, and homes that do not have working gutters may experience rot as well.
Rotting can be an expensive issue to deal with, as the logs in question must be replaced. To help prevent rot, make sure that gutters drain well, that your foundation protects the lowest logs, and that protective finishes are used.
2. UV Light
UV rays and direct sunlight can cause issues over the years as well. UV light causes finishes to break down more quickly. When your finish goes, your home has less protection from rain, moisture, and insects, which in turn lead to other issues such as rot.
To prevent this, use a UV reflective finish, and keep it fresh, reapplying regularly to maintain the protection.
3. Insect Activity
Carpenter ants, carpenter bees, beetles, termites, and other insects pose a real threat to log homes. They can eat the insulating foam in your ceilings, and tunnel straight through the logs themselves, structurally weakening them and opening up the possibility of future rot.
If you notice signs of insect activity, it’s important to engage a qualified exterminator, and to plug up holes left behind by the insects themselves. Filling the holes in your logs that carpenter bees or beetles have left can help recover some structural integrity and avoid future problems.
4. Cracked Chinking Cause Log Home Repairs
Wood naturally expands and contracts with moisture. Green logs, which many homes are built from, are also likely to shrink has many as six inches over the years, resulting in gaps. Chinking is used to help seal up gaps between logs, keeping moisture and wind out of your home.
With the continual shrinkage and expansion of the wood, however, chinking can develop cracks over time. These cracks can then allow in the very moisture and wind the chinking is designed to keep out. Replacing cracked chinking helps keep your home structurally sound, more comfortable, and more energy efficient.
5. Checks or Cracks in the Logs
During the shrinking process of the logs, cracks or checks may develop in the log itself. This is often a normal part of the wood, and in some cases poses no problem. However, at other times the checks can grow large enough to allow moisture to penetrate deep into the log, causing rot.
Any crack in the log that measures more than ¼-inch in width of depth needs to be sealed with caulk to help prevent moisture from penetrating the log.
6. Lack of Headspace
Logs will shrink 5 – 10% over the course of their first few years. This adds up to about 6-inches per wall, and in most cases, the homes are built to accommodate this shrink. One area that it can be overlooked, however, is above windows and doors. If not enough headspace has been left, the shrinking walls could cause the windows or doors to stick fast, making them inoperable.
With adequate headspace, the windows and doors will remain able to open after the shrinkage is complete. If the have stuck, however, the frame must be reset, which can be a large expense depending on how much shrinkage has occurred.
7. Lack of Flashing
Flashing is crucial in any roof or deck on a log home. Liquid flashing helps prevent moisture from entering the home or accumulating around the logs where the deck and roof attach, and around openings in the roof for things like chimneys. If flashing is not added to these areas, moisture can build up, or enter the attic of the home. This leads to rot not only of the logs themselves, but also of internal areas. Mold growth can also become a problem in attic spaces, which can lower the air quality inside the home.
8. Rodents and Pests
Insects aren’t the only pests that can cause problems for a log home. Bats, squirrels, raccoons and other animals may make their way into a home through vents and large chinks. When these animals make their nests in the home, they can disturb insulation and wires, and cause significant damage.
Woodpeckers are another pest that can cause a problem for your log home. If you have insect activity, woodpeckers may see your home as a source of food. Their knocking can enlarge holes, letting more moisture into the logs.
Keeping insect activity to a minimum and sealing up chinks can help prevent these issues.
9. Poorly Draining Roofs
Roofs are the first line of defense that most homes have against moisture, rain, and snow. If your roof is improperly designed, flashed, and drained, however, it can lead to a number of common issues with log homes, including wood rot.
Roofs need to extend out far enough to deflect water from splashing back onto the home. They also need to be properly pitched for the home to allow for the best drainage, and they need to have adequate gutter systems and flashing to ensure continued protection of your home.
The finish on your logs goes a long way toward protecting them from many issues, including UV rays, rain, insects, and rot. The finish needs to be evenly applied and brushed into the logs for best absorption. It should also be reapplied every few years or as needed to ensure that your home has continued protection.
11. Logs Too Low to the Ground
If the logs on your home are too close to the ground, then they could be at risk of rot due to ground moisture. While poor drainage and splashing are two of the most common causes of rot, having logs directly on the ground can also be a serious issue.
The best practice for log home building includes raising the home at least 6 inches off the ground before the logs begin to prevent this problem.
Solving Many of These Issues
Nearly all of these issues can be solved by using a different type of log-look siding on the homes, rather than wood logs. Materials such as steel, as is used by TruLog Siding, do not rot, pose no issue with insect activity, and do not require frequent staining or maintenance.
For homeowners that want the look of a real log home, but do not want to deal with these issues, investing in steel log-look siding can be an attractive alternative.
Take care of your log home properly, or invest in log-look siding made of steel to help ensure you can enjoy your log home for the longest possible time.