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How-to

  • Finding and Blocking Air Leaks For an Energy Efficient Log Home

    From Tech Tip: Finding Air Leaks

    Winter arrived quickly this year, and if you're like us, you might still be finishing up some of your log home winterizing chores. From pulling in the garden hose to digging out snow shovels and winter gear, it's just about time to turn on the heat and curl up for the snowy season. To make sure your log home is as energy efficient as possible this winter, you may want to add checking for air leaks to your log home maintenance list this winter.

    Though log homes are naturally energy efficient, as your home settles and ages, it can occasionally develop minor cracks in the chinking, and around windows and doors that can lead to air leaks. Though they're usually minor, air leaks can let out the heat you're using to keep your home comfortable, and they can pull in cold air, causing draughts and chilly spots in your house. To keep your log home energy efficient this winter, you'll want to find and block those air leaks. Luckily, early winter is the best time to find them!

    How to Find Air Leaks

    There are a number of ways to seek out air leaks, and they're actually easiest to find when it's about 20° colder outdoors than indoors. This is because you can easily feel with your hands the places in walls and around windows and doors that are letting in the cold air.

    Warm Water Method

    The first and least expensive way to find air leaks is to simply go around your house with a bucket of warm water, a bit of chalk, and a ladder. Dip your hand in the warm water, and wave your wet hand past the interior walls slowly, about 6 inches from actually touching the wall. You should be able to feel any cold air leaks coming through the walls or windows. Mark air leaks with a spot of chalk, so you can come back and fix them up later.

    Box Fan Method

    If you have a box fan, an even more effective way to identify air leaks in your log home is to turn it into an exhaust fan. Place the fan in a window or door, blowing outwards. Cover any remaining openings in the window or door with plastic sheeting. The fan will draw any cold air coming from air leaks into your home, making it easier to find them. Again, mark any found air leaks with chalk, so you can repair them later.

    While this method can cool down your house quickly, it's better to have a chilly home for a few hours than to waste a lot of money and energy heating a home that's letting your warm air escape all winter.

    Infrared Camera

    The most effective way to identify air leaks in a log home is to use an infrared camera. Though these can be pricey, they show you exactly where air leaks are coming from, and make it easy for you to tell when you've effectively blocked a leak, or if cold air is still coming through. If you have an infrared camera, you need only to turn it on and pan it around your house. Any change in color will identify the parts of your home that are warm, and which are significantly cooler.

    How to Block Air Leaks in Log Homes

    Now that you've identified the problem areas in your log home, it's time to put a stop to them before winter settles in for good. The best way to seal off air leaks is to take a two-pronged approach: first, sealing the exterior, and then caulking interior leaks where necessary.

    Sealing Log Home Exterior

    To stop air leaks in their tracks, go to the source. Air leaks start at the exterior of your log home and work their way inside. If it's not too cold out yet, or you get a couple of warm days over 40° F, you can use Energy Seal or Conceal to seal out the cold weather. This will also help avoid any water leaks that can occur if the air leak gets bigger.

    Maintenance Caulking Interior

    If it's too cold to seal the exterior of your home, you can work to caulk problem areas from the interior as well. Simply apply caulk to the leak to temporarily block it. Then, when you have a chance, you can seal the exterior as well for a more permanent fix.  

    Always be sure to double check that your sealing has effectively blocked an air leak. Sometimes it can be difficult to locate the exterior side of an air leak, as they can be as far as 7 inches from the leak on the inside of our log home. If you can, work with one person indoors, and one person outdoors to make sure that your exterior sealing is actually stopping the leak indoors.  

    Now that you've blocked the air leaks in your log home, you can rest comfortably this winter knowing your log home is as efficient, and well-heated as possible. And if you need any supplies to finish the job, from caulk to exterior seal, be sure to check out the wide selection at Timeless Wood Care Products!

  • Maintaining Wood Shingles and Shakes

    Wood roof shingles and shakes have long been touted as a classic style for many homes. They’re well known for their energy efficiency, resistance to storms, durability, and of course their natural beauty. Offered in a variety of colors and styles, many people, and especially log home owners, love their wood shingle or shake roof, but it’s good to know that these types of roofs do take a little bit more work.

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  • Repairing Damaged Logs On Your Log Home

    Wood decay is a phenomenon that isn't totally uncommon with log homes. If you're a long-time log home owner, you probably already have a yearly ritual of checking your home for soft spots and treating them so they don't spread. If you haven't been in a log home for long, know that it's a good idea to check for log rot about once a year. We have plenty of resources for treating small spots of log rot, as they can pose a problem if left untreated.

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  • 8 Things to Add to Your Log Home Spring Cleaning Checklist

    Spring is finally here! Though it may not seem like this winter has been all that bad, it’s time to get ready for warmer weather, and that includes spring cleaning. Since your log home takes winter a little differently than other homes, here are a few things to keep in mind when you go about your annual spring inspection and cleaning routine:

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  • INTERIOR LOG HOME CHECKS

    1. Watch for mold or mildew damage to log walls in high-moisture areas such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.

    2. Vertical posts with settling jacks installed at floor level are often used in log homes to shoulder the weight of the second floor or roof system. Talk to your builder to find out the rate these jacks should be lowered.

    3. watch for settlement issues wherever the log walls attach. This can include interior partition walls, floors, cabinets, shower enclosures, stairs, chimneys, porches and garages.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • TROUBLESHOOTING COMMON ISSUES

    1. Is mold/mildew growing on your logs? First determine whether it is on top of the stain or underneath by dabbing it with a swab soaked in chlorine bleach. If it is on top of your finish, it can be washed off the walls using Log Wash. If it is underneath, you must remover the finish in order to remove the fungal stain.

    2. Decay-causing fungi occur in wood with moisture contents in excess of 30 percent (the wood-fiber saturation point). Since moisture must be present to give fungi a chance to grow, a good, water-repelling, breathable finish applied to the surface of the logs will combat this.

    3. If rot does take root in your logs, drill holes into the affected log, inject Shell-guard on each side of the problem area and then caulk the holes. The borate dissolves and begins to diffuse throughout the wood, killing the fungi on contact.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • FINISHING AND SEALING NEW LOG HOMES

    1. Remove mill glaze, road grime and other foreign substances from the logs. You can do this by using a log wash solution (Wood ReNew), sanding, power washing or corn-blasting, depending on the condition of your logs.

    2. If you elect to wash your logs with a cleaning solution, always remember to apply cleaners from the bottom of the walls upward, then rinse from the top down. Always make sure to thoroughly rinse cleaning solution off the walls. Follow manufacturer’s directions when using cleaners.

    3. After waiting for the logs to dry, apply a borate preservative (Shell-Guard or Armor Guard) and allow to dry. Next apply your interior and exterior stains. You may want to apply your exterior clear-coats after chinking, to improve appearance and make cleaning easier. The final step is to apply external sealants and chinking if your house requires it.

    4. All log homes will need some amount of sealing – regardless of the log profile or construction style – in between log courses, at corners and around windows and doors. the sealant or chinking you use must be compatible with whatever stain you apply to your log home. If you are not sure, call the manufacturer.

    5. To test your finish or stain, use a spray bottle to mist the logs with water. If the water beads up and runs off like a freshly waxed car, then it’s doing it’s job. If logs soak up water, then you’ll need another application of finish.

    6. How soon you will need to re-apply stains to your log home depends on many variables. Severity of weather exposure, care during preparation and stain application, the quality of the stain used and amount of pigments in the stain are the primary factors. You should expect 4-7 years or more when using LIFELINE stains, especially if the house is sheltered from the sun.

    7. Graying wood (especially on the topside of round logs) is caused by UV damage to the wood substrate. To fix this, you must remove the stain to get at the wood underneath, by stripping or sanding. Treatment with Wood ReNew, OxCon or sanding removes this damage. This UV damage can be significantly delayed and reduced by use of UV-Boost in the first coat of LIFELINE finish on the logs.

    8. If your finish loses its adhesion, it can start to peel, blister or crack. To avoid this peeling, only use one coat of stain to finish on logs that have more than 20 percent moisture content. Use a moisture meter to determine this. Once your log falls below 19 percent moisture content, you should apply multiple coats as per manufacturer recommendations.

    9. Can you feel drafts at corners? Use Energy Seal or Perma-Chink to seal horizontal and corner joinery wherever needed. Seal upward facing checks larger than 1/8″ wide with Check Mate. These can trap and hold water and should be weather-tight.

    10. Check flashing around the windows to ensure that all water is being channeled out and down the exterior walls. Water stains on the logs or drafts around the windows or doors indicate that air and water is infiltrating your home. The right sealant is the solution for this problem.

    11. If blisters appear in chinking that has been applied in direct sun, puncture them with a knife tip and flatten them out against the uncured chinking.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • PRESERVING AND CLEANING YOUR LOG HOME

    What should I put on my log home to protect it?

    Preserving and cleaning your log home is essential for longevity of your home. It’s imperative to understand the intimate connection between a building’s location & design and a coating’s performance. The location and design of a log building is a key contributing factor to long-term maintenance costs. This very important detail is too often overlooked. Different locations will frequently require different building designs. If the building is not properly designed for its location, then surface maintenance inevitably becomes a more regular task no matter what brand of exterior wood coating is used. And when a coating fails to live up to expectations because of location and design factors, it usually gets the full blame. The wood finish becomes an easy target because its breakdown is so obviously visible and is regarded as the cause of failure instead of a symptom of deeper underlying causes. A quality log home finish, although it will certainly perform better than the cheaper varieties, will never achieve its full performance potential when design considerations have been overlooked. A wood finish alone can never remedy design deficiencies, no matter how good it is! Nevertheless, the type of coating to use on a log home should possess the following characteristics:

    - Exceptional Water Resistance - Shield the Wood Against the Sun’s Harmful Rays - Prevent Graying and Hold Color Longer - Discourage the Growth of Mold & Mildew - Protect Against the Abrasive Elements of Weather - Allow for Some Degree of Moisture Vapor Transfer - Have Minimal Impact on Air Quality

    A Unique Challenge

    Log homes pose a unique challenge, for any type of exterior wood coating because the mass and surface of a log will vary from log home to log home. Each individual log can contain varying moisture contents, differing amounts of resin, a predominance of bark, cambium, sapwood or heartwood surfaces, and different densities of growth rings. In addition, log products are skip-peeled, draw-knifed, finely milled or somewhere in between and also come in various sizes, shapes and profiles. And let’s not forget all of the numerous types of species of wood. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to design a log home coating that will wear in a similar manner over such a wide range of variables.

    Finishing touches

    Prior to coating with a wood finish, a new log home normally requires a seasoning period to allow moisture within the logs to be released to the outside environment. The moisture content of a particular log building will vary from one manufacturer to the other, so it is best to consult with your log manufacturer for advice on when to first coat the exterior logs. Generally, it is recommended to wait a minimum of 6 months after the home has been built before applying the first coat. This allows the log’s surface to open up and dry which in turn makes a better surface for a wood finish to absorb into and bond to. To play it safe, apply only one coat of stain on your new home. If too much stain is prematurely applied, moisture-related coating problems such as mold, mildew, and peeling may occur. This initial single coat should provide adequate protection on the log walls for the first year. Normally another single or double coat will be necessary the following year.

    Before coating, spray the logs with the bleach solution mentioned earlier and pressure wash clean at 500-750 psi. Additional surface preparation may be necessary on logs that contain mill-glaze, bark, cambium, or are altered by a draw-knife. On such logs, scuffing the surface with a non-ferrous wire brush or with medium to coarse grit sandpaper will help to insure a better performance of the coating.

    Once the home has seasoned, the performance of subsequent coatings should improve considerably. The frequency of reapplications will depend on climate, location, extent to which surfaces are sheltered from weathering, nature of the wood, quality of the finish, and application techniques. If the logs are checking and cracking exposing untreated wood, or if the finish shows signs of wear and is not providing an adequate water barrier, it’s time to recoat. Also, the Southern and Western exposures absorb the full force of the elements more directly, so expect to recoat those areas more often.

    Your Ends Are Special

    Special attention should be given to exposed log ends. End grain absorbs twelve times more water than the rest of the log surface. If left unprotected, end grain is particularly susceptible to fungal attack. To prevent such an occurrence, periodic inspection and treatment of the log ends with a quality water-resistant finish is advised. In addition, waterproofing the end grain will significantly reduce checking of the log ends.

    An Internal Dilemma

    Many new log homeowners desire a transparent, cleanable surface on the inside log walls that only a varnish type coating can provide. Because varnishes are basically a clear paint that forms a film, it is important that the logs are adequately dry before applying such a coating. Otherwise, as previously discussed, moisture-related coating problems could occur. Since the amount of moisture in the logs will determine the length of time required to wait, it is best to consult the manufacturer of your logs for their recommendations regarding a time frame for applying an interior varnish. If any doubt, wait at least 6 months and through a heating season before coating the inside logs with a varnish. Never apply a varnish on the outside logs!!!

    Check It Out

    Another area of concern is the formation of cracks or checks in the logs. Although there is a variety of factors that cause checking, our concerns are checks caused by moisture. There are two sources of moisture that contribute to log surface checking:

    - Internal - Environmental

    Internal moisture is the water inherent in the tree when it is freshly cut. This water is located within the wood cells and in their cell walls. The moisture within the wood cell is known as free water and is the first to be eliminated in the drying or seasoning of the wood. Free water is eliminated when the logs have reached around 30 percent moisture content. All moisture located in the cell walls is known as bound water and does not begin to leave the wood until all the free water from the wood cells is eliminated. As the water in the wood drops below 30 percent moisture content, the release and elimination of bound water begins. It is during this stage that log shrinkage and checking occurs.

    Ideally, in the “seasoning” stage, moisture in the logs should decrease at a steady, even rate. The more rapid the rate of moisture release, the greater the probability of checking. Consequently, a slower release of moisture will reduce checking and provide a more uniform shrinking and settling of the logs. Since numerous variables contribute to the rate and volume of moisture exchange from the logs to the environment, control of this natural process by the homeowner is best achieved by the maintenance procedures already discussed.

    Environmental moisture is caused by moisture from the external surrounding environment such as snow, rain, lawn sprinklers, etc. As the wood surface becomes wet, it swells or expands, and as it dries, it contracts or shrinks. When the wood is subjected to a number of these wet and dry cycles, and in winter climates freeze/thaw cycles, the stresses that result cause cracks in the wood. All the precautions and methods mentioned earlier in relation to controlling fungi apply here. Once again, the whole object is to keep the logs dry. That is the reason it is so important to apply a good quality, water-resistant wood finish. Such a finish will provide the necessary water-repellency needed to minimize moisture-related cracks.

    Finally, don’t overlook upward facing checks. They can be a nagging source of air and water infiltration. The wider and deeper they are, the greater the potential for problems. Sealing the checks with a caulking material will usually remedy the situation, but it’s a smart idea to saturate them first with a wood preservative before caulking. This precaution will greatly reduce any chance of rot. Before proceeding, contact your log home manufacturer for advice on the type of caulking to use and the best procedure to follow to properly accomplish the job.

    This sections content was provided by The Continental Products Company.

  • OTHER PESTS AND YOUR LOG HOME

    1. Woodpeckers can cause damage to log surfaces, chinking, window frames and trip. Make sure that you do not have insects living in areas where woodpeckers strike. Contact your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more information.

    2. Swallows can damage log homes with their nests and droppings. Because these birds are federally protected, consult with the U.S. fish and Wildlife Service for a permit to remove their nests. Installing nylon netting and long nail-like strips (Nixalite) can prevent their return. Scrub affected logs with a mild bleach solution, rinse and reseal.

    3. Squirrels can cause damage with their gnawing teeth, so seal downspouts and chimneys with screens. Eliminate tree branches that lead to the roof.

    4. Mice can be problematic, especially if you have bird feeders. Move these away from the house, and set mouse traps in the basement, crawl space and attic.

    5. While many eat their weight in insects each night, bats also can cause problems for log home owners, damaging wood with their excrement. Install screens over chimneys. Seal all cracks and gaps around the roofline. install bat houses nearby to draw them away.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

  • SIGNS OF INSECT INFESTATION

    1. If you see signs of termites or other wood-boring insects, call a pest control professional. Signs include frass (a sawdust like substance) and tunnels in the wood.

    2. If your home is infested in the winter and fall months with cluster flies, use a vacuum cleaner, pest strips or fly-swatter to eradicate them. the best method for control is to keep them out by sealing their entrance points with Energy Seal

    3. If carpenter ants have set up shop in your home, locate and destroy their nest with Shell-Guard. Call a pest control professional.

    4. Ambrosia beetles leave white toothpick like extrusions from tiny pinholes in the wood. If they have attacked your home, inject Shell-Guard and seal the holes with caulk.

    This content was provided by Perma-Chink Systems, Inc.

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