17 Nov Reduce the Cost of Dealing with Log Rot Wood Deterioration
Log rot isn’t a pretty issue to discuss nor is it a fun issue to deal with. Understanding what to look for and the preventative or restoration processes used can help log home owners worry less and enjoy their homes more.
In the forest, when a tree falls Mother Nature sets to work composting that tree back into the soil. The sun’s UV rays begin to break down the composite “glue” layer of the wood fiber and as the wood begins to decompose moisture moves in. This damp wood material is the perfect environment for decomposition to begin. As decay fungi (log rot) begins to break down the cellular structure of the wood, the wood begins returning to the soil in the form of composted organic matter.
This is all well and good in the woods, but Mother Nature has no way to know that you don’t want those logs that you call a living room wall to return to the soil. How do we prevent this?
First, moisture management is essential to preventing log rot. Simply stated, if the wood stays dry the environment can not support the development of decay fungi. Sealing the exterior of your log home is an important step in preventing widespread log rot issues. And it is important to use a log home stain that is engineered to protect logs… not just an off the shelf product from the hardware store. The best log home stains allow moisture to leave the wood but prevent the wood from absorbing moisture from the outside. This protection is accomplished by using a breathable acrylic finish that functions much like “Gore Tex” in its ability to breathe.
Next, any upward facing checks (cracks) that can retain rainwater should be addressed. Typically, this specifically means any checks sized ¼” or wider as these can hold enough water to promote the development of log rot in the checks. Smaller checks can be sealed as well but the initial primary objective is to address these larger checks first.
Logs at the lowest level, particularly beside decks or other solid surfaces are subject not only to the rain falling from above but backsplash as well. Since these areas receive twice the weathering as other surfaces, they are common points to check for decay. The same holds true for dormer siding where it meets the roof. Any area subject to backsplash or banked up snow in the winter should be inspected for log rot.
Inspection is as simple as attempting to insert an ice pick or a thin bladed screwdriver into the suspect wood. If it seems the wood underneath is “punky” (also helps to knock on the wood much like selecting a cantaloupe) repairs may be in order.
Seldom does an entire log need to be replaced if the rot is identified in time. Topical application of borate (by way of Impel or Cobra rods injected into the suspect area) will stop existent rot from further development. If significant damage has occurred, often the log face can be salvaged, and the use of borate and fiberglass repair materials allows us to restore the log. In a “worst case” scenario, log refacing or replacement may be necessary, but this is much less often than most log home owners would suspect.
by Wayne Bell