Sealing “Checks”/Cracks in Logs and Maintaining Exterior Wood Timber Elements

It is imperative to keep characteristic normal “checking,” or cracking, of exterior exposed wood timbers well sealed in the Pacific Northwest. Elevated moisture conditions in wood can lead to WDO (wood destroying organism) activity and damage. Open cracks, or ”checks,” which are normal and typically of no structural concern, allow water to penetrate the inside of log timbers and, in so doing, create wet conducive conditions for WDO activity. WDOs, such as beetles, carpenter ants, rot fungus and termites are literally attracted to elevated moisture; keep it dry and they have no interest in your home. Oftentimes, visible damage in exterior log timber elements doesn’t become readily apparent until the timber is substantially deteriorated. I can give countless examples of this from my experience inspecting thousands of homes.

Of course, home inspectors can’t see the interior of timber logs nor can we invasively inspect. A wise home inspector would- even if “checking”/cracking were noted to a minor extent- recommend further invasive inspection of the affected timbers by a qualified contractor to make sure there isn’t substantial damage within. This is why, when inspecting log homes for instance, I always recommend further evaluation by a qualified log home contractor whenever I see cracks/”checks” in logs or visible evidence of ANY water intrusion, water staining or damage whatsoever. Timber log elements are expensive to replace and are very important to maintain!

If you own a log home, or a home with exposed exterior wood timber elements, here are some tips to help you maintain their beauty and function for a prolonged period of time. It’s all about maintenance!

  1. Keep exterior wood elements well sealed. Untreated wood that gets wet attracts WDOs.
  2. Monitor log timbers for normal “checking”/cracking and properly seal when noted. Use the highest quality elastomeric sealant you can afford for reduced maintenance. A borate treatment should also be considered as a preventative measure.
  3. Monitor exterior caulking and “chinking” details, repair when failed or cracked.
  4. Eliminate Earth-wood contact; keep dirt and debris away from timber elements.
  5. Eliminate vegetative contact with timber elements; keep landscaping elements pruned back from the building exterior so
    the building can remain dry.
  6. Consider top- and edge-flashing exposed vertical and horizontal timber elements. Metal flashing details on the tops and edges of exposed timber elements look great and significantly reduce maintenance.
  7. Keep timber cut ends well sealed; cut timber ends tend to “wick” water quickly, are particularly vulnerable and deteriorate first. Flashing cut ends, as above, virtually eliminates the need to maintain and can create a nice aesthetic finishing detail. Use a high quality “end grain sealer” for cut log ends.

In the end, it’s all about moisture! Keep everything sealed and your home’s beautiful timber elements will last a lifetime. Failure to maintain exposed wood timber elements will inevitably lead to costly repairs. Log home contractors and vendors are a great resource on best maintenance and repair practices.

Here’s a link to a blog about log maintenance that might prove helpful and instructive.

https://www.westernloghomesupply.com/howcanificha.html

VIDEO: Standing Water in Crawl Space

Standing water was discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. If you see standing water or water intrusion in your crawl space, it’s important to deal with it sooner than later as standing water can lead to structural settling and WDO (wood destroying insect) activity/damage in the home, together with moisture related issues within. The longer water intrusion persists, the more expensive the fix typically becomes.

Fun Fact Friday!

You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV.

The citrus soda 7-UP was created in 1929; “7” was selected because the original containers were 7 ounces. “UP” indicated the direction of the bubbles.

The word “nerd” was first coined by Dr. Seuss in “If I Ran the Zoo.”

Dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

VIDEO: Huge Open Seams in Siding!

Failed caulking details and huge vulnerable seams between siding abutments at the exterior of a home in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands were discovered at a recent home inspection. It’s very important to protect open seams at the building’s exterior from water intrusion which can, and will, lead to water/insect damage in short time. Caulking abutments is advised, or installing a metal flashing detail behind open seams does the trick too.

Water Intrusion in Crawl Spaces

Water intrusion under homes is an issue that is somewhat common in the Pacific Northwest, but very important to repair.  Water intrusion and standing water conditions in crawl spaces are most often the result of (1) water intrusion from the exterior (e.g., failed/insufficient perimeter footing drains, gutter downspouts discharging directly adjacent the home, lack of gutters at eaves, improper grading not sloped away from the home, water intrusion directly through the foundation wall itself) or (2) a plumbing leak in the crawl space.  Less likely- and really quite rare- is a local spring underneath the home itself which, if you have one, it just needs to be directed out of the crawl space through ditching, drain rock and perforated piping. Continue reading

VIDEO: Huge Open Seams in Siding!

Failed caulking details and huge vulnerable seams between siding abutments at the exterior of a home in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands were discovered at a recent home inspection. It’s very important to protect open seams at the building’s exterior from water intrusion which can, and will, lead to water/insect damage in short time. Caulking abutments is advised, or installing a metal flashing detail behind open seams does the trick too.

VIDEO: Unsafe deck structure

At a recent home inspection in Anacortes, I recently discovered beetle exit holes in one of the deck support posts. When I probed the post, my screw driver went directly into the heart of the post! I discovered several other deteriorated posts and beams, together with some unconventional deck construction practices, which warranted further evaluation and repair by a contractor for safety reasons

VIDEO: Moldlike growth in attic!

At a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, I discovered plywood sheathing in the attic that was stained with a mold-like growth. This typically, almost always, indicates an insufficient ventilation or elevated moisture issue within the attic. Vents could be restricted, vent ducts may be discharging into the attic, or the interface between the main home and attic may need to be better sealed. In any event, a contractor needs to first resolve the underlying cause of elevated moisture and make necessary repairs. The mold-like growth is then typically remediated with a mildicide and then painted with mildicide paint to encapsulate historic mold growth. I recommend tinting the paint TAN because white or black mold growth will be obvious if it returns (e.g., you’ll see it on tan paint). If the attic is forever tan, you know the issue has been addressed satisfactorily. Because most home buyers want this issue addressed prior to closing, and remediation can be expensive, I recommend peeking into your attic on an annual basis and dealing with any apparent mold-like growth sooner than later if noted.

How to deal with mice

Eek! There’s a mouse in the house!

Mice have been cohabiting with humans as long as humans have been cohabiting. They figured out millennia ago that our homes are a good place for them to live. Warm, dry, plenty of food – all a mouse (and hence mice) could want. Popular Mechanics says, “There are plenty more ways beyond the traditional mousetrap to get the rodents infesting your house.” Here is their survey of the best ways homeowners and exterminators can solve a mouse problem.

Hope you find this interesting and timely informative! If you’re looking for a top notch Home Inspection and Home Inspector in Friday Harbor, Washington or the San Juan Islands (including Orcas Island, Friday Harbor, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island) to keep you from buying “The Money Pit,” then you need Board Certified Master Home Inspector Tim Hance of All Islands Home Inspections working for you! Over the past 8 years, we’ve protected over 3,200 home buyers, just like you, from unexpected post-closing expenses. Call (360) 298-1163 to schedule your Friday Harbor, WA or San Juan Islands Home Inspection today! I look forward to working with you soon and exceeding your expectations!

Fun Fact Friday!

Sharks evolved about 450 million years ago about 3 times ago longer than dinosaurs.

Every person has a unique tongue print.

Pandas have lived on Earth for two to three million years.

In ten years, the average man shaves off a pound of whiskers.

The technical term for a cat’s hairball is a “bezoar.”