With all or the log and timber framed homes that I have the pleasure of inspecting, it is common for folks to ask about the condition of the logs or timbers.
The most common question I get has to do with the large horizontal splits in the logs which are commonly mistaken for cracked or damaged areas of the logs.
This is part of the natural drying process of logs! The checking as it is called does not impact the structural integrity of the log, but depending on the location, size and or depth of the checking water seepage can become an issue. With severe checking we do recommend sealing with an approved flexible sealant.
Now how do you know the difference between weather damage, rotting, insect damage and checking? Once you see them side by side it is easy to distinguish. This is a picture of weather damage and insect damage on timbers that are around 200 years of age. Many times checking if it is exposed can collect water and lead to more problems. The chinking used on this cabin is a concrete mortar type. It has actually helped to speed up the deterioration that we are seeing in this photo.
The key to log lasting logs is to maintain them with a penetrating stain or finish which seals and protects the logs from the elements and deters insects. If the logs/timbers have chinking (the material that fills in the space between the logs/timbers) this needs to maintained. Never use concrete mortar mix or similar products, but use a modern flexible chinking. Most are silicone or acrylic based and will fill in all of the gaps and cracks between the logs creating a weather-tight seal to help with heat loss and air infiltration.
The old mortar based chinking that we still see absorbs water and does not allow for proper drying of the spaces. This leads to and increase in water seepage and damage of the area.
The brands of Chinking we like are called Perma_Chink and Big Stretch and Log Jam by Sashco.
Trace Inspections inspects more log homes than any other home inspection company in Tennessee and in the region. Let Trace Inspections Inspect your next Log Home.
Scott Patterson has been a professional home inspector since 1995 and works out of the Greater Nashville TN area. You can contact him at his office 615-302-1113 or on his cell at 615-870-4162 via text or voice.