If you have ever stayed in an older log cabin, especially one out in a remote location, you probably noticed a few cracks in the wood. When you build a log home or cabin a few cracks will appear in the wood over the first few years. We are often asked if these cracks are a concern and this article will answer that question.
When a tree is living and growing it contains a lot of water. Once it’s cut down it starts to dry out and lose moisture. The drying process of timber plays a very important role in determining if the wood will be good for building or not.
As the timber begins to dry, the log shrinks and as a result of this shrinking it may crack, also known as “checking”. This is a common occurrence in log homes and cabins and not all checks are of concern other than cosmetic. Even checks that run the length of the log and are located on the outside of the log home as well will likely not create a structural problem. As long as water is not coming through the logs, the cracks are of little concern.
Moisture in the logs can lead to mold, rot and other major structural damage that can be costly to repair; so, if you do notice cracks you should keep an eye on them. And, when you do your annual maintenance, make sure there are no signs of damage.
Full scribe log homes face the greatest risk of checks due to the amount of shrinkage that takes place in these structures. As most of the home is constructed of logs, they will shrink as the home begins to settle over the first few years. It’s common to see cracks begin to appear over time; but, if a full scribe home has not been built in a way that allows for this shrinking and adjustment of the logs, cracks can start to occur and become a structural problem as the weight of the house starts to shift.
A log home is built to withstand anything that Mother Nature can throw at it. If your home is built correctly, a few checks here and there will only add to the uniqueness and personality of your home. If you ever do find cracks or gaps within your logs that you are concerned about, contact a local building company and send them pictures of the problem area or have an inspector come out to the property. It is better to get a professional opinion and find out that there is nothing to worry about than to ignore it and find yourself with a serious problem in the future.
Do you have a question about log homes? Contact us, we would be happy to answer it and may even feature you question in an upcoming article.