Spring Inspection & Maintenance Checklist

Spring Inspection & Maintenance Checklist

Creasey Log Homes


With the advent of warmer weather, Spring is probably the single best time to get out and inspect and preserve your log home.  And, if problem areas are discovered, the upcoming Summer months are the optimal season for maintenance work.  After decades of restoration work we have seen recurring themes that, if only they were systematically addressed, would minimize expenses for repair.  The following are some of our strongest recommendations for caring for your log home:

#1 Wash Your Logs

Over time, your home's logs will see a build-up of dust, pollen, and good old-fashioned grime that can set into your log finish and actually develop damaging mildew.  One of the best recommendations for prolonging the life of your log home finish is to annually wash it with an ecologically-sound cleaning solution and mild scrubbing tools.  Pressurized washing equipment is not required but, if you opt to use it, make sure the pressure is light enough to not remove or weaken any of the finish.  If you choose to stay up on this process yearly, the effort will not be too difficult and the benefits will be significant.

#2 Inspect Your Logs

During the process of cleaning, or at a separate time, you can give some closer examination to potential problem areas needing attention.  The following are some of the more likely suspects that may need inspection:

- Railing Systems & Porch Posts

Log rails, though sometimes protected by porch roofs above, are often directly exposed to the elements.  At least wall logs will typically have some measure of roof protection overhead.  With such constant pounding from ultra-violet rays and, in Western Washington, high precipitation, railings are often one of the first components of a log home to begin to fail.  Watch for up-facing checks and consider having them sealed to prevent water intrusion. 

As well, the horizontally-cut tops of rail posts have three critical faults and deserve special attention.  First, they consist of porous end grain that seeks to absorb moisture more than any other part of the log.  Second, tangential shrinkage causes checks to open up which can funnel water deep into the log where it is difficult for the moisture to evaporate.  Third, it goes almost without saying that the horizontal surface itself lacks the ability to shed water complicating the first two issues.  If it appears that the weather is winning out over your posts consider having Creasey Log Homes install protective, malleable sheet metal caps to seal off any water penetration before it can cause further damage.

Likewise, the base of porch posts can often see a greater weather exposure than other elements of the home.  The reason is simple:  rain and UV rays seldom fall in an exclusively vertical manner and down low the posts are less protected from the roofline above.  Although wall logs theoretically experience this same phenomenon, they are most often elevated above the ground.  Posts are regularly mounted directly to a hard surface such as deck or patio material and its the resulting water splash that, over time, can create a potentially troubling situation.  Be sure to inspect these areas carefully for possible development of rot and create a more aggressive plan for maintaining the protective finish.

- Extended Logs

Any time a log extends out of a wall the possibilities for an undesirable issue increase.  Examples of extended logs are corner tails, log joist tails at an upper floor level, balcony joists, or purlins that extend beyond the roofline (in fact, a purlin can be susceptible to danger even if it does not extend beyond the line of the roof if the fascia does not adequately cover it).  These elements realize an increased exposure to the elements and have horizontally-aligned surfaces that can be slow to shed water and may even accumulate it if there are open checks.  Should rot begin to develop it is easy for it to begin to spread within the log and to the interior of the wall.  With joist ends and balcony logs that are contiguous with the upper level floor framing, this can spell real danger.  If you suspect that your balcony log joists may be suffering damage, consider having Creasey Log Homes apply a protective covering to alleviate any long-term effects.

- Lower Wall Logs

The lower log courses of your walls can experience greater weather exposure and the effects of vegetation.  Pay special attention here and review the following comments about plants and shrubs.

#3 Cut Back Shrubbery

One of the most easily fixable, yet potentially damaging, concerns is centered around landscaping that is too close to the home.  Vegetation limits air circulation and tends to shade and trap moisture in an area where you don't want it.  Use common sense here; the more you can trim it back, the better.

#4 Inspect Your Sealants

In addition to log material itself, review any applied sealants including caulking and chinking.  Make sure that no new significant skyward-facing checks have appeared or that previous applications have torn or pulled away from their bonding surfaces.

#5 Check Your Gutters

Some of the most detrimental damage that we have seen involves gutters and downspouts that are not working properly.  Clogged gutters, improperly sealed connections, or gutters that do not extend far enough to capture all cascading rainfall from the roof, will concentrate water exposure and limit the ability of your logs to dry out.  If not immediately addressed, such long term exposure will be quite negative in its effects.

These recommendations are within the ability of most homeowners to adopt.  With regular attention many of the potential problems that could be experienced by your log home can be alleviated.  However, should you require an application of a new finish or other protective materials, please do not hesitate to schedule an inspection and obtain a free quote for services.