The Log Home Neighborhood

An online log home community for log home enthusiasts.

Helping Your Log Home Survive The Elements.

Helping Your Log Home Survive The Elements.

Water Control

Make sure you have gutters downspouts in good repair.

Make sure sprinklers are not wetting the house and/or decks, and handrails.

Make sure spigots are not spraying the house when hoses are attached.

Make sure splashback is eliminated (via gutters/down spouts, large overhangs, gravel drip bed.

Make sure you have flashing over windows, doors, wall projections, and intersections.

Check to see if you have proper drainage off porches & decks.

Make sure you have good drainage, directing water away from your log home.

Landscape

Make sure bushes are a minimum of 18" clearance from the log cabin.

Try to trim trees back so water isn't dripping on the log walls.

Logs

Make sure logs are a minimum of 12-19" off the ground.

If you have any checks on the upward curvature of the logs that are opened 1/4" or more you may have to caulk them.

Inspect any chinking and/or caulking for loss of adhesion or tears.

Inspect any signs of insects.

Inpect any signs of rot.

Inspect any sign of mildew.

Keep items like wood piles, leaves or other items that could scrap off the finish.

Check the stain for signs of erosion, UV degradation, or failure.

If logs are protruding beyond the roof line or rafter tails exposed you might want to use a Impel Rod
or otherwise know as a stick form of a borate to help eliminate log rot from happening. But if you keep a finish on the logs you should be ok.

Repair areas as needed.

Kelly

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Comment by ChinkerBob on January 9, 2009 at 12:47am
Excellent post Kelly. I wanted to mention one possible problem that can come from following your advise to caulk upturned checks.

First of all, you only need to worry about upturned checks that are in places where they might catch rain. Under a porch roof or up high on a wall, they won't cause any problem, waterwise. (Some of these might be pathways for bugs or air, but that is another issue)

The jobs of caulking is to keep water out, but some logs have so many small checks that if you caulk the large ones and leave the small ones alone, or if there is a way for water to get in that you don't notice, you can end up trapping water inside checks because the caulking won't let the moisture evaporate.

I have encountered several situations where that is exactly what happened, and the homeowner ended up having to have major repair work done to fix the resulting rot problems.

If you have an upturned check that twists around and ends up being open on the bottom half of the log, you can probably ignore the water it catches because it can basically drain out. If you are inclined to caulk it anyway, only caulk the portion of the check that is facing up and leave the rest open so it can dry if it does collect water.

If you are going to caulk a check that is on the upper half of the log for its full length, first try to figure out if there are signs of water damage from the exposure its already had. Also make sure it is dry inside the check before you caulk. Then look for possible pathways for water to get into the check after you caulk it. One case I encountered had water dripping down the sides of a window buck and getting in behind the caulk because they had not sealed the caulk to the window buck where the check started.

If you live in a dry climate like the intermountain west or the southwest, I wouldn't worry about checks unless they are allowing water to get into the house. Any moisture that gets into them will dry out quickly due to the low humidity.

If you live in a wet climate, or a humid one where water evaporates slowly, you might need to caulk some of your checks, but don't make it your mission to fill everything. Think about each check and perhaps see how wet it gets after a typical rain. Fill them on a case by case basis, and give watch those logs where you've filled checks to be sure it hasn't come loose somewhere and started catching water, or is otherwise showing signs of possible trouble.

Remember when you fill checks to first push in some foam rod, such as the stuff you can buy for weatherizing your house. Push it in so that about 1/4 of the check is left exposed. Squirt your caulking in, use a wet finger to push it in an seal, and wipe off the excess with a damp rag. (I'm assuming water-based caulks. If you're using something that requires mineral spirits or other solvents to clean up, be very careful around your finish to keep from stripping it.) In any case you want to be sure you don't leave excess caulk on the log surface just because it looks ugly.

Do not do what seems simplest: squirt in a bunch of caulk and fill up the entire check. That uses up a lot of caulk, and in the process creates a big lump of plastic that won't move well when the logs checks expand/contract with wet or dry weather. Caulking is flexible in when applied thinly, but not when it is in big lump form. I tell people to think of how stretchy a rubber band is and how stretchy a tire is. You want the rubber band, not the tire.

Applied to liberally and thickly, it won't be long before some of the caulk tears loose and allows water to sneak in and be trapped behind all the caulk material. Its a counterproductive method. You're probably better off doing nothing.

Kelly very rightly started her list with water control. Do everything you can to keep your logs dry so that the only water they have to deal with is the stuff that falls from the skies. I'd tell you a few horror stories in that department but I don't know if any of our readers are under 18, and I wouldn't want to scare the children.

Do keep in mind that though most houses are built high enough off the ground to counter splashing water, not every deck is covered, and many a house has weathering/water problems start where the rain water splashed off the deck and onto the logs. If you are wondering which check to think about filling first, that would be the place to start if you have an uncovered deck.

If you are in the process of designing your dream home, make sure you design in large overhangs and give thought to how wet the logs might get if you have an uncovered deck. Know which way the wet winds will blow, make sure you don't make little nooks and crannies in convoluted log walls that might stay wet in the cool of winter, and if you don't have gutters (common out west) be sure you don't have stuff on the ground that will allow the dripping water to end up on the logs.

One other place that commonly gets water damage is the log ends on vertical posts that are often a part of deck and porch railing systems. Often times the post tops are just sanded smooth and stained. However, water will inevitably get into the end grain as the wood checks, and eventually cause havoc. The best solution is to put a metal cap over each log post. Copper looks nice. There are commercial sources for these caps, but if you have a handcrafted house each post top will be a different size and you'll have to have the caps custom made. Don't ignore this. Custom caps are cheaper than replacing all the posts ten years down the road.

Oh, just remembered one more thing. Don't stack firewood against your log walls. If any of the firewood is infected with munchy wood eating critters they might find a way to migrate into your lovely house. If the wood gets wet, or is tarped and the tarp gets wet, water gets trapped between the woodpile and the logs and can start causing rot problems.

I'm going to have to have Kelly give me lessons on how to be brief. In the meantime you're stuck with this.

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