Are you looking at purchasing an older log home or does your current one have some rot and decay issues? No need to worry! The first thing to do is to figure out why the rot is present and fix that problem immediately to save yourself from future frustration.
As we all know, homes do get older with time and for that, there may be a greater or potential risk for log rot, especially if you live in a wet, and more humid climate. Generally, the logs with the greatest potential for rot and decay are the closest to the ground (or under the deck support posts), so the lower or second layer of your log wall where they can’t dry out well enough and are susceptible to soaking up more water in the ground.
While it’s not something that is as common, it is possible for large parts of logs to become rotten due to a number of underlying circumstances, at which point a full log replacement might be necessary.
Reasons why logs on your home may rot
There are many common reasons why logs start to decay here are some of the most common reasons:
- The roof if not constructed properly and has a minimal overhang, which can result in rain drenching the logs.
- Plants and trees outside your home that may be too close, as they can divert rainwater against the logs and this will leave the logs damp as there will be minimal sunlight allowing the logs to dry properly. This can include vegetable gardens or flower boxes holding moisture next to the walls of your home.
- A leaky gutter or downspout that allows water to run down the logs.
- A large crack on the up-facing part of the log that collects and holds rainwater and does not have proper drainage.
- Paint used on the logs instead of a quality log home finish/stain.
- Exterior faucets that are drilled through logs.
- The porch is not attached to the bottom log instead of spaced properly to allow for water drainage.
- Interior leaks and poor plumbing jobs.
More often than not, if the previous owners had properly maintained their log home, none of these problems would have occurred (or at least, very minimal). Here’s what you need to know when it comes to identifying if your logs are damaged by any of the above, what to extent, and some tips on how to fix or replace the decayed/rotten logs:
How to Identify the damaged logs and check the extent of your home’s damage
If it’s not already evident that you’ve got a rotting log there are other ways to check. When checking for log rot, your best and safest bet is to go around the home a hammer, tapping on each log you’re concerned about (note – hit the log itself not inside the grooves and crevices). How will you know if you’ve found a damaged spot? You’ll know as soon as you come in contact with the log and you feel a soft spot; a log should be hard and sturdy when hit.
If you do happen to find some soft spots, those can easily be treated and stopped from spreading, but from time to time you may find a log that has more substantial damage. In this case, you’ll have to replace the entire log, rather than just treating the area that’s affected. While this sounds like a major repair and undertaking, many homeowners are able to replace rotten logs themselves. If you’re not comfortable replacing it yourself, you can always call a professional, who will be able to fix the issue for you.
How to fixing or replace decaying or rotten logs on your home
Minor Rot Damage
This damage is considered superficial and may only penetrate the log surface up to 2 inches. If your house has signs of minor rot damage you need to first and foremost fix the cause then remove the rotten area using a chisel. Once you’ve been able to remove the rotten wood, you can either sand the area smooth and restain, or if the area is slightly too deep you are able to use a product such as E-Wood by Permachink.
This product is a two-part exproxy that can be shaped while still soft and can be nailed sawn drilled painted etc. when cured. Once dry, you can sand and stain just the wood of your existing logs!
Major Rot Damage
If you come across some major rot damage when inspecting your home or if you’re looking at purchasing an older one, you’ll typically find that this occurs when logs have been exposed to continuous moisture for many years. First things first, you need to fix the cause of the issue, which could be a number of things such as leaky gutters and downpipes, improperly installed base flashing, splashing water due to sidewalks or gardens being located to close to your logs. Once you have fixed the cause its time for log home surgery if you will!
Typically this sort of work is left to professionals with many years of log home restoration experience since removing an entire rotten section can be a bit of a tricky and lengthy process. Keep in mind when removing the lower logs of a house, you must ensure the rest of the logs above stay where they are by using jacks and shoring. Once the rotten piece(s) have been removed, a new log of very similar size and shape and same species of wood will then go in as its replacement. Often this is a very technical job especially if it involves the corner of your log home. Finally, after the new logs have been installed, make sure to stain them as soon as possible to help avoid any discoloration or decay.
Some of these fixes are easy and some may require a professional but it’s very important to make sure the conditions that promoted the rot in the first place are corrected before you try to restore your logs. You can avoid many of these costly structural issues and preventing rot from occurring by sticking to a yearly maintenance schedule and taking the proper steps to ensure the longevity of your home. Please see our article about log home maintenance for more information.
Do you think you may have decaying logs in your log home? Need a professional to come look at your log home? Or are you wanting more information on designing your very own log or timber home, or have additional questions? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be able to answer any questions you have.