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Home Improvement--General/Filling cracks in logs in log home

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Question
Cracks in the logs
Cracks in the logs  

Woodpecker holes
Woodpecker holes  
Hi:  I have a 5000 square ft log home in the country.  Part are logs and the some are Baton and board.  We have some fairly large cracks  in some of the logs and in one area cold beeze is coming in.  What would you recommend to fill in the cracks that will do the job and look OK.  We also have woodpeckers making a mess of some of the logs.  All our windows are wood and match the home and are letting in a lot of air since they are 13 years old.  Do you recommend a window company to do the job?  We are in Canada, but are willing to look in the states for the windows.  Thanks.  I was glad to find a log home expert!

Lorrain.

Answer
Lorrain,    My phone  800-864-6701 or 865-315-5450 preferred.

Cracks in logs are called "checks".  Checks are disliked by some log homes owners and liked by others as enhancing the natural character of the log home.  If the checks are sloping downward or under cover of a porch roof they generally are not a problem; if they face upward exposed to rain, snow and ice they can and will likely cause problems with age and should be filled.  The best way to fill them is to insert backer rod (a spongy rope like product) first then fill over the backer rod with a caulk product specifically formulated for log home applications.  Most, if not all, caulks found in hardware stores or big box stores such as Lowes or Home Depot are not the right product to use.

I don't see any typical woodpecker damage on the logs in the picture. The small log between the two bigger logs appears to have a little squirrel damage, but it is not where squirrels usually cause damage.  I'd have to see a lot more log ends to make a definitive judgement if it is squirrel damage.

Wood peckers usually dig holes in thin boards while trying to find the carpenter bee nest where the larva are growing.  They dig straight into the board then turn 90 degrees and follow a path along the wood grain line, sometimes several feet, deposit their egg which develops into a larva and eventually exits the nest as an adult bee. The woodpecker sees the hole begins pecking around the hole until it hears the right hollow sound then begins cutting into the wood till it hits the tunnel. It continues to follow that line until it finds the larva then its dinner time.  These holes need to be sealed because the bee will come back to the same hole next spring to lay another egg.

Window/doors are commonly installed in log homes incorrectly.  It's not the window that causes the air and water infiltration problem, it's the way the window was installed that's the culprit.  Probably, the worst place to look for help solving this problem is a window company!  Window installers are trained to work on conventional construction jobs; these jobs do not have the issues inherent in log home construction.  When they, or people who got into log home construction from the conventional construction business, install windows they approach it like they learned in the conventional construction business.  They don't recognize those special circumstances in log home construction.

I noticed some other issues in your pictures that present additional problems.  If you want to call me I'll be happy to talk to you and go over all of this and give you advice and recommendations.

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Len Kroll

Expertise

I can provide advice on the proper design, construction, maintenance, restoration, preservation, cleaning and waterproofing of log homes. Questions concerning proper cleaning, sealing, staining and waterproofing are within my area of expertise. My expertise includes new construction and existing log structures. Chinking application or restoration, log replacement and repair are also in my area of expertise.

Experience

40 years experience in the log home and construction industries, 10 years in specialty contracting, 30 years in the log home field. We have designed, produced, supplied and built over 3,000 log homes and restored/repaired over 600 log homes. See more information at our web site: www.woodhouseloghomes.com.

Publications
Authored a monthly column expressing the Vice President and General Manager's "Observations and Insights" distributed to 300 employees and management.

Education/Credentials
BS degree in accounting, University of Illinois, 1963. Master of Business Administration degree, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Numerous relevant seminars including an intense two week business administration seminar, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, 1978. National Home Builders Association Graduate Builders education program.

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society Student, Illinois State Academic Scholarship, Dean's List.

Past/Present Clients
References on request

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