Take Advantage of the Fall to Get Your Log Home Ready for Winter

For log homeowners there are a number of important tasks that need to be done to prepare your home for the upcoming winter months.  Doing these routine tasks will allow your log home to weather the cold and snow and freezing rain that lies ahead.

Fall Log Home Maintenance Tasks

Fall is a great time to do a few quick and easy tasks to ensure that your home is warm and comfortable throughout the colder months. For log homeowners there are a number of important tasks that need to be done to prepare your home for the upcoming winter months.  Doing these routine tasks will allow your log home to weather the cold and snow and freezing rain that lies ahead.

log home maintenance

Inspect the exterior of your log home for gaps that allow air, water, and rodents to enter.

  1. Inspect the Exterior of Your Log Home.  Walk around the outside of your home and inspect your exterior logs.  Look for bare spots, areas with peeling stain, places that appear to have insect damage or where the wood is soft and rotting.  Clean those problem areas and apply stain and a clear coat finish to minimize further decay.

  2. Inspect the exterior of your log home for gaps that allow air, water, and rodents to enter. Inspect Your Roof. Look for shingles that are loose, cracked or showing signs of wear.  In your attic look for pinholes of light or signs of water damage along the roofline.  Timely repairs will eliminate water finding its way into your home later.

  3. Clean Your Gutters. While inspecting your roof, it’s a good time to make sure your gutters are clear of leaves, small sticks and other debris.  This will allow water to drain properly and minimize the chance that ice dams will form.

  4. Seal Air Leaks. Fill in gaps where electric
    caulking exterior log

    Seal large checks and holes in your logs to prevent moisture and insects from entering.

    al wiring, dryer vents and pipes enter your home. Feel for drafts around windows and doors.  Seal leaks with caulk or insulation to keep out cold air and those pesky ladybugs, cluster flies and boxelder bugs, and an occasional mouse from finding small holes to enter your home through.

  5. Inspect the Fireplace.  Make sure the damper opens and closes properly.  If the damper isn’t closing tightly, heat will escape up the chimney – leading to higher heating bills. If you use your fireplace regularly you’ll also want to clean your chimney’s flue.

  6. Prevent Plumbing Freezes. Locate your water main in the event you need to shut your water off in an emergency. Check for plumbing under your home and insulate any exposed pipes.

  7. Look for signs that water is entering your cabin through small openings or around windows and doors.

    Check Your Home’s Foundation.  Fill in any cracks or chinks along your foundation.  Also remove all leaves and other debris that is close to the house.  This will keep insects, mice and other rodents from finding their way into your home.

  8. Shut Off Outdoor Water Spigots.  Disconnect your garden hoses from all spigots, close the shut-off valve (if there is one) and drain the faucet.  This will prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. 

  9. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors.  Make sure all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors work. Buy a fire extinguisher or replace any extinguisher older than 10 years.

  10. Don’t Store Firewood on your Porch or in Your Home.  Keep all your firewood at least two feet from your home and keep no more than what you’ll need for a day in your house.  This keeps insects out of your home that are living in the firewood.

Better Now Than Later

By taking care of these outside tasks now you prevent bigger problems from occurring later.  It also keeps you from having to deal with problems when it is much colder outside.

Log Home Restoration Specialists logoNeed Help?

If your fall inspection finds that you have air or water leaks due to old or missing chinking, let us know right away.  If you need our help to fix these leaks, we will do our best to address them at this time.  Give us a call at 765.838.8092.

Is Your Log Home’s Railing Safe and Secure?

Now is a good time to inspect your outdoor railing around your log home and check for rotting or worn rails and spindles.  With more inclement weather on its way in the fall and winter there are a couple of steps that can be taken to prevent further deterioration of your pine or cedar railing.

Metal railing on log home

Now is a good time to replace unsafe railing and spindles.

Moisture is the Problem
The main problem with log railings is that they are often out in the rain and snow where they soak up a lot of moisture.  Excess moisture is the main contributor to wood rot.  By doing a couple of preventive measures your logs will be less affected by rain and snow in the coming months.

Caps and Strategically Placed Holes can Help
Unfortunately the very design of log railings and their continual exposure to the elements makes them susceptible to water damage. The tops of posts where water collects is the most vulnerable place for rot to appear. Putting copper caps that fit snuggly around the top of the posts will go a long way in minimizing potential damage to the tops of the posts.

Another vulnerable spot on log railings is the top edge of the bottom rail where there are several holes facing up where the spindles pass through. When it rains water follows the contour of the spindle and flows right into these holes where it soaks into the bottom rail as well as the end grain of the spindle itself.

To prevent water from accumulating in these holes drill a ¼” hole up from the bottom into each of the larger holes coming from the top. This will allow water to drain out the bottom of the hole.

Protect Your Railing with a Good Finish
The last important thing to do is to keep a good finish on the railings. This will protect them from the effects of rain, snow and the sun. If your logs appear faded, weathered or are showing signs of decay, now is the time to apply a quality stain and sealant. This is an important step in maintaining and extending the life of the railing and spindles.

Metal railing on a log home

Metal railing can offer an attractive alternative to traditional pine or cedar railing.

Consider an Alternative Type of Railing
Traditional pine and cedar railings will deteriorate over time from exposure to rain, snow and sun.  Replacing older, rotting rails and spindles with pine or cedar replacements is certainly an option, but we have seen a number of log home owners upgrade to more easily maintained steel railings.

Metal railings come in multiple styles, colors and sizes and give your home an attractive look with less work required to maintain them.

Let Us Help
Log Home Restoration Specialists can help you either repair older, decaying railing and spindles or assist in selecting and installing new metal railing. Both options work.  Just give us a call at 765-838-8092.

New Windows Add to Log Home Appeal

“I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how great we think the new windows look. They look fantastic. The color really looks nice with the logs and No More Storm Windows.  Yeah!!! The entire LHRS crew did a great job and answered all of my questions and concerns.  We still get compliments on the house, now the windows will just make it that much better looking,” stated Kim O., a satisfied LHRS customer.

New windows in log home

Replacing old windows can prevent air, water and insects from entering your log home.

New Windows Make a Big Difference
Updating your windows has a number of benefits.  As noted in the testimonial above new windows can improve the appearance of a log home considerably. But just as importantly, new windows eliminate gaps that develop over time that permit drafts, moisture and insects to enter your home.

Moisture seeping in can lead to older windows swelling, binding and rotting. Hard to open windows and doors eventually need to be replaced.  Newer windows are also much more energy efficient.  For log homes with windows more than 15 years old, replacing them can have a significant impact on lowering your energy bills.

There Are Differences
Replacing windows and doors in a log home is not the same as changing them in a conventional home.  The connections used between logs and windows are unique.  In some cases, the new window will fit cleanly into existing framed opening.  Other times, the opening in the log wall will have to be enlarged or padded for the new window to fit correctly. When older windows leak it can lead to rotting around the jamb, which will need to be repaired prior to new windows being installed

New window installation

Knowing the differences between conventional and log home construction is important when installing windows/doors in a log home.

Another unique characteristic to take into account when installing windows and doors in a log home is the exterior logs will absorb moisture and expand and contract throughout the year.  If this characteristic is not factored in when replacing windows or doors, it can lead to air and moisture leaks developing.

Replacing Old Windows Can Enhance Your Log Home
Replacing windows can be done in several ways.  You can replace the entire window and frame; replace only the window, or add a window where one does not presently exist.  Because older log homes tend to be dark inside, adding windows can provide more natural light and really enhance your home’s interior.  Having knowledge of log home construction is essential to ensure the new windows are installed correctly.

Experience Is Important
Finding the right person(s) to replace windows/doors on your log home is very important to avoid problems surfacing at a later date.  We highly recommend finding a contractor who has built log homes and understands the differences between log and conventional homes.  It takes a very experienced person to do the job properly.

Log Home Restoration Specialists logoYes, We Do Windows (and Doors)
Log Home Restoration Specialists built log homes for over 20 years and today focusses on helping log home owners maintain and renovate existing homes.

Please give us a call at 765-838-8092 if you would like to discuss replacing your windows or exterior doors.  We’ll be happy to give you an estimate, and more importantly, you can be assured the job will be done right.

Why Inspecting Your Chinking is So Important At This Time of Year

exterior logs

Failing chinking can lead to more substantial problems if not repaired.

The primary role of chinking is to stop air, insects and moisture from finding their way into your log home. It also plays an important role in insulating your home which keeps the heating and cooling bill lower.

Moisture intrusion through cracked or missing chinking is also a major contributor to log damage caused by water penetrating into the logs themselves.

It’s Time to Assess Your Log Home’s Chinking
Each summer it is important to assess the condition of your log home’s chinking.  As logs shift and settle the potential exists that your chinking may crack, allowing crevices and holes to develop that permit air, water and insects to enter your home.

Problem areas will show up where old mortar has cracked, or the chink has lost its adhesion to the logs. This leaves gaps between the logs that will lead to bigger problems if not repaired as quickly as practical.

Properly applied chinking keeps your log home looking great and more energy efficient.

Properly Applying Chinking
Today’s more flexible chinking can be applied over old cracked mortar.  First remove any loose or crumbling chinking and make sure the logs are clean. Then fill in any gaps in the mortar with a backing rod, so that the surface of the backing rod is level with that of the original chinking.  Cover the joint with bond breaker tape and apply a full-thickness application of the new chinking according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Keep Your Log Home Looking Great
Chinking is one of those characteristics of a log home that give each home its unique style. Chinking comes in several colors and you can choose whether you want the chinking to blend in or contrast with the color of your logs.

Log Home Restoration Specialists logoHave More Questions?
Keep your log home looking great and energy efficient with a routine summer maintenance program that assesses the condition of your home’s chinking.

Have other questions on proper log home maintenance?  Just give us a call at 765-838-8092.  We’ll be happy to make a recommendation based on our experience.

Stuck in Your Log Home … Take a Walk and Tell Us What You See

Spring is always the best time to inspect the exterior of your log home and see how well it has held up over the winter.  With so many of us staying home and looking for things to do outside, we suggest you take a walk around your log home and tell us what you see.

Two areas that are important to look for are cracks (also called checks) in the chinking and logs, as well as determine the condition of the protective stain on the logs on the exterior of your log home.

caulking, fading stain and checks

Deteriorating caulk allows for insects, water and air to enter the home.

Look for Cracks in Your Log Home’s Armor
Fluctuating winter temperatures cause water to freeze and thaw which can lead to cracks forming in your homes exterior logs, chinking, and around your windows and doors.  These cracks start small and slowly expand until they allow drafts, water and insects to enter your home. They can also become spaces water can collect and cause logs to rot and deteriorate.

There’s a Lot to Look For
When inspecting the exterior walls look for these tell-tale signs:

  • Loose or cracking chinking
  • Checking/cracks in the timbers
  • Popped knots
  • Signs of dampness, mildew or mold
  • checks in exterior logs

    Large cracks or checks in a log will allow water and bugs to penetrate the log.

    Faded stain

  • Dark patches that indicate splash back from your gutters

Your gutters need to take water away from the house and watch for places where water overflows the gutter or leaks at the seams.  Make sure there is no standing water near your home’s foundation.

How’s Your Stain Holding Up?
Assess the condition of your log home’s stain by first determining what type of stain was used on your home.  If it is latex based stain and you see that the finish has become dull and faded, it is time to apply a new coat of stain.

faded stain on log home

Once the stain fades the log is no longer protected against harsh weather.

For homes using oil based stain look at the knots in the logs, if they have become blond it’s time for a new application of stain.

Another way to assess your stain’s condition is to spray some water on an area that has been cleaned and dried.  The water should bead and very quickly run down the cabin. If it soaks in, your log home is due for a fresh coat of stain.

Need Some Help With Your Spring Inspection?
If you prefer someone else to do a thorough inspection of the exterior of your home, an experienced member of the Log Home Restoration Specialists team will visit your home, assess its condition, and make any recommendations on needed maintenance …  all while taking all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Log Home Restoration Specialists logo

We’ll be happy to help.  Just give us a call at 765-838-8092.

How To Stain A New Log Home

When deciding how to stain a new log home there are several factors that can affect the appearance and durability of the finish over the lifetime of your home.

front porch pre stain

A new log home prior to being stained.

Prepping to Stain a New Log Home
How thoroughly the logs are cleaned prior to staining will determining how well the initial stain takes to the wood.  Even though the logs appear new during the construction process any dirt, mill glaze, or fungus build up needs to be removed.  Logs should be cleaned with bleach to give them a surface that takes the stain well.

Treating the logs with borate before they are stained for the first time gives your log home a layer of defense that protects it for years from insects, carpenter ants, dry wood termites, wood-decaying fungi and wood-boring beetles.

Choosing the Right Type of Stain
Stain absorbs more evenly on new logs. Applying the right type of stain and doing it correctly the first time ensures your home’s exterior color and finishes are consistent when you stain a new log home.

stain new log home

Logs that have been cleaned and bleached ready for stain.

Water-based latex or acrylic stains and finishes are elastic and flexible, which keeps your layer of stain strong and durable throughout the changing seasons. This type of stain is typically a better choice than oil based stain which can crack as your logs expand from moisture or heat, and contract with cold or dry air.

Getting the Stain Color Right
On a new log home finding just the right stain color may require some preliminary testing.  Apply your stain on a small area of wood and then let it dry sufficiently to see how it will appear once it is dry.  You can always add more layers of stain to darken the appearance of your wood, but once a layer is applied, you can’t lighten the color later.

Today there are a number of different color hues available that can be used as the primary color for your home or as accent colors for porch rails, shutters, decks, and trim.

Chinking and Caulking Selection
Caulking your exterior logs is essential in order to keep moisture, air and insects from penetrating your logs and home.  Over time all of these can cause logs to deteriorate and require future maintenance.  Chinking adds to the appearance of your home by giving it a more “log cabin” appearance and also performs the same functions as caulk in the spaces between logs.

stained and chinked wall

Logs that have been stained and chinked.

It is important that your stain, finish and chinking materials are compatible. Most chinking products are water-based and only compatible with water-based stains.  The best way to ensure compatibility is by using the same brand of stain, finish and chink. 

Clear Coat Finish
The final step in completing the exterior of your new log home is to apply a clear coat finish.  This application protects and seals the stain from UV rays, moisture and insects.  It also will give your logs either a flat or glossy sheen depending on what finish you desire. 

Experience and Knowledge Help
Cleaning, staining and sealing new logs requires know how and experience.  Working with untreated logs is different than staining other types of wood products.

finished log home

Finished exterior of new log home.

Understanding what preparation is required; how logs react to different cleaning agents; and how they absorb different types of stains all factor into the final appearance of your home.

Let Log Home Restoration Specialists talk to you about finishing the exterior and interior of your new log home.  We’ll be happy to go over our process to stain a new log home and show you the results we have from many satisfied customers.  Just call us at 765-838-8092.

 

Now’s the Time to Think (and Plan) Big

Over the winter months when things are a little less hectic, there is time to think about those log home improvement projects you’d like to accomplish.  This might entail expanding or refurbishing your deck, add new railings, replace windows and doors, or even remodel your kitchen or interior of your home.  All of these projects will take time and planning.

Discuss Your Ideas with a Contractor or Designer
Getting started early is critical if you want the work done this year, especially if you’d like it done before summer arrives.

For really big projects like remodeling a kitchen or even adding a deck, you’ll need some professional guidance.  Now is the time to start discussing your ideas with a contractor or designer to get the initial plans put together.

For smaller projects like replacing windows and doors, redoing/adding railings, restoring a deck or porch, it is not too early to get your name on a contractor’s schedule for the spring.  The spring, summer and fall schedules of the best log home maintenance and restoration contractors fill up fast.  In some parts of the country the time available to work on the outside of homes is only 6 to 8 months. This can limit the number of homes one contractor can work on.

Log Home remodeling and restoration

Redoing a kitchen takes time and planning.

Don’t Procrastinate
Waiting to contact a log home restoration and maintenance company may leave you in a bind.  More established contractors can be booked very quickly.  Those who “fit you in” may not be able to spend adequate time on your home and may charge a premium to accommodate the home owner.

It is also important to recognize that for many of these projects using a contractor familiar with log home construction is important.

Just Get Started
They say the #1 thing to do to overcome procrastination is to “just get started”.  Don’t overthink or over plan what needs to be done.  A good contractor will help you with those decisions.  Not only will you feel better that you have gotten the process under way, you’ll also find you’ll have more options and flexibility when it comes to what you can do to make your log home even more special.

Call Log Home Restoration Specialists at 765-838-8092 to talk about getting you and your project on our schedule.

Now’s the Time to Get Your Name on Our List

If you already have your spring/summer log home maintenance scheduled ….. GREAT!  If not, now is the time to get hold of us to schedule a time for LHRS to inspect your home and complete any routine maintenance or repairs.

Do not procrastinate!  Most log home maintenance and repair contractor’s schedules fill up quickly.  It is easier on everyone if you get your name added to our list as soon as practical.

The Importance of Routine Log Home Maintenance
Every log home typically requires some maintenance each year.  This can be as simple as caulking around windows and doors to completely restaining and sealing the exterior of your home.  In the long run keeping up with routine maintenance will minimize the more expensive problems that can occur like having to replace logs where water, exposure to the sun, and insects have caused more significant damage.

Look for Future Problems
Walk around your home and look for those tell-tale signs of future problems. Logs that are turning gray indicate that the wood fibers near the log’s surface are drying out. This leads to cracks forming where water and insects can penetrate into the logs. Eventually logs begin to rot and water and outside air can find their way into your home.

Are there areas where the wood is getting soft and beginning to rot, or you notice there are logs with areas that accumulate moisture?  This too, can lead to logs rotting and areas that insects will use to find their way into your home.

Look for missing chinking and caulking.  If you see gaps and holes forming, you’ll want to temporarily fill them with caulk to stop water and air leakage until you can make more permanent repairs.

Make sure your gutters and downspouts are mounted securely and water is not able to run between the edge of the roof and the gutter.  Ice dams that form along your roof line can cause damage to gutters leading to water not flowing properly away from your home.

Schedule Your Spring/Summer Log Home Maintenance Now
Contact Log Home Restoration Specialists at 765-838-8092 and we will add you to our schedule.  This insures that your home’s maintenance needs will be addressed in a professional and timely manner.  It will also give you peace of mind and a log home that is ready for next year’s inclement weather.

Peter RosiLack Reliable Information
Procrastination is often the result of a lack of reliable information.  Have a question on a maintenance concern or what steps to take next?  Give us a call at 765-838-8092 or send an email to pete@repairmyloghome.com.

There’s No Place like a Log Home for the Holidays

What makes a log home special during the holidays is hard to explain, especially for those who do not live in a log home.  From America’s founding the log home has represented our forefather’s sense of independence and distinctly American way of life.  Today log homes continue to have a special place in our culture, not to mention our hearts.

interior photo of log home at Christmas

The warmth and comfort of a log home during the holidays.

Grateful for What We Have Been Given
Over the holidays, as we spend time with our families, we also are very grateful for all that we have been given …. our families, friends, and, for those living in log homes, a special place to gather and celebrate.

Here are some of the reasons we are grateful to live in a home that offers a truly unique living experience.

  • Log homes stand the test of time and provide a connection with past generations of American pioneers.
  • Enjoying the warmth and comfort of sitting by a cozy, crackling fire.
  • Sitting on the porch on a crisp autumn afternoon and taking in the peace and solitude of having nature surround us.
  • Disconnecting from today’s world of technology to enjoy a slower, less stressful pace of life.
  • Experiencing the nostalgic feel of a simpler way of life.
  • Being part of an amazing picturesque setting as we watch the leaves change color or the snow fall softly.
  • Knowing that our home reflects a natural, tranquil setting both inside and out.
  • Recognizing that our home is a unique, one of a kind, place that was designed for our needs, and is the envy of our friends.  🙂

Tell Us What Makes Your Log Home So Special
We’d love to hear your stories about what makes your log home a special place for you and your family.  We’ll post your stories on our blog and share them with others who know how special log home living can be.  Please send them to Kelly Rosi at kelly@repairmyloghome.com.

Enjoy the holidays!

Pete, Tim and Kelly Rosi

12 Easy Steps to Winterize Your Log Home

For those who don’t live in their log home 12 months of the year, closing up your residence for the winter is an annual task that must be done thoroughly. Making sure your log home is ready for the colder months can insure that when you return in the spring that there are no surprises.

Proper winterizing precautions should be followed in order to ensure that the log home is not damaged while it is vacant. The last thing you want when you return to your log home is find it damaged from the cold.

Log home, log cabin in winter

Winterizing your log home is important to prevent damage over the winter months.

Winterizing Your Log Home
Here are our suggestions on winterizing your log home this Fall.

  1. Adjust your thermostat. Set your thermostat to stay around 50-55 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.
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  2. Shut off the water at the main shut off valve in your house. You’ll want to open up all your faucets and drain your toilets and water heater — also keep the faucets open to prevent pressure from building up in your pipes.
    This will help prevent pipes from bursting as the water expands with changing temperatures.
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  3. Turn off your gas line to prevent a gas leak or other gas related incident. If you have a gas heat, you won’t be able to do this.
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  4. Close the house up tight. Snow and rain can get through the smallest of openings. Check the log siding, windows, and doors, as well as the roof and chimney structure. Any leaks should be sealed with an exterior caulk, or other recommended sealant. Store all outdoor furniture, grills and yard tools indoors.
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  5. Unplug all appliances and electronics. This will save a little on your electric bill and prevent these items from being ruined by an electrical surge caused by a close lightning strike.
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  6. Check your sump pump. Make sure it functions properly. No one wants to find a wet basement when they return in the spring.
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  7. Close the damper or flue on your fireplace. This will prevent snow, rain or animals from finding a way into your home.
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  8. Protect the interior of your home. Furniture, carpets, and mattresses should be protected from mice and other vermin. Safe chemicals are available to discourage them from building nests. Dryer sheets also work well when randomly spread on areas that could be possible targets.
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  9. Remove perishable items from your refrigerator and pantry. Wipe your fridge down, unplug it and be sure to keep the door to your refrigerator and freezer open. Closing it up will lead to a foul smelling fridge and promote mold and mildew growth from residual moisture.
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  10. Put any non-perishable food in air-tight containers. Any food you do leave behind should be in air-tight containers to prevent pests from finding it.
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  11. Double check your gutters. Clean your gutters before you head out. Clogged gutters can cause all sorts of problems once snow, rain and cold temperatures arrive. Drain spouts should be designed to take heavy rain away from your house.
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  12. Have Someone Check on Your Home.  Asking your neighbors to keep an eye on your property is a good idea.  Have them contact you if they see something that doesn’t seem right.  It is also helpful to have someone check on your home periodically with the ability to get into your house.  If something significant happens, like your heat going out, you don’t want to find this out upon your return in the spring.

Log Home Restoration Specialists logoJust As You Left It
Winterizing your log home properly for the winter months will give you the peace of mind that when you return in the spring everything will be just as you left it.

If you need any assistance in closing up your log home, please give Log Home Restoration Specialists a call at 765-838-8092.  We’ll be happy to help if at all possible.