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  1. #1

    Unhappy Log Home In Trouble

    Inspected a log home here in PA yesterday that is about 27 years old. If the poor home would have just had gutters installed and been at least somewhat maintained it probably would have been in ok shape. But it did not and this is what I found. Is anyone familiar with how or whom may make repairs of rotted and insect damaged logs.

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  2. #2
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    In my experience I have found that if the original builder can be located he would be the best one to do the repairs. Or at least he could at least tell you who the manufacture was so the correct logs can be ordered for the repair.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Thanks James. The realtor is looking into it. It will be interesting to see what comes about the repair and how extensive it will be. I'll post once I hear back on what was and how it was done.


  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    It looks like the problem stems (pun) from not enough overhang on the roof at those corners. So any repair should include roof upgrades as well.

    Those bad ends can be trimmed off, that will fix most of it. Anyone handy with a chainsaw can fix that. Nobody wants to replace whole logs. I'd look into replacing short sections maybe, only if absolutely rotted through, though. Epoxy injection is a possibility for the really bad spots. No problemo from where I'm sitting.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  5. #5

    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Thanks John. Yes I agree the roof should have had more overhang to protect the exterior surfaces of the home as should a lot of homes. The problem with the logs is that they have had extensive damage from water leaking into them and insect damage. The damage as far as I cared to investigate went into the walls of the home and probably will need some of the logs replaced. I suppose that a few of the lower courses of logs that have not have had as extensive damage could be knocked off with a chain saw but I guess we'll have to see what the buyer wants to do. I'll post back after I hear some outcome.


  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Many times logs are also repaired with an epoxy product that soaks the wood and hardens what is left of the wood. Pretty much the same type of repair that is done to historic structures when they can't replace the wood.

    Correction of the roof drainage will make a big difference.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  7. #7
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    They look fine. good for another 50 years or so. Then replace with a new home...

    What part of the Country are you in ? Please fix you log in

    Best

    Ron


  8. #8
    mike huntzinger's Avatar
    mike huntzinger Guest

    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Copper green will kill and protect the wood but not fix any past rot issues


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Scott,I was a dealer for Northern Products log Homes here in Northern New Jersey and eastern Pa in the 80's and built kit homes but I also had the experience of replacing Chestnut logs in old log homes constructed in the 1920's by the Crane Company here in Sparta NJ and other lake communties.

    In the 70's and 80's there was always the competition from small log mills that would run heart cut pines and true two sides and sell linear lengths of timber,They could under cut a kit home by 60%.

    The logs you show appear to be heart cut which is always good for checking, you can see they check to the center and typically stop. Like the one gentleman stated an injection process would work the best, I have used Abatron and love the product, you can sand router and mold to shapes, and the material climbs through the wood cells, you will put it in and it will come out 6 feet away.

    If a log needs to be cut out its not that hard for a milled flat log, harder to do if a kit how with a T&G (tongue and grove), chances are your home shown is flat laid and has no T&G system to mate them together, I could be wrong but you could tell with joint invasives. Some people just RXR tie spiked them together and if you dont counter sink the spike head into the top of the installed log, the head can hold the log above up seperating the two when the building settles. There are log home kit systems that came out with a threaded rod and nut for tightening when the home shrank and settled, which is always the problems for doors and windows if not installed in a floating jamb assembly.

    If the logs are flat laid with no T&G or spline in between for drafts and vapor, you can sawzall between the logs and cut the spikes and remove, then careful milling of a new log and spline the butt joint when inserting back in. Fastening is a tricky endeavor, sometimes you have to dowel down from the outside round surface and seal the penetration. The logs shown sure appear to be tight joint and caulked,I would like to see other wall surfaces, typically you will find a log hung up from settlement,
    Best regards,
    Joe

    Joseph Ehrhardt
    Building Forensic Specialist LLC

  10. #10
    mike huntzinger's Avatar
    mike huntzinger Guest

    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Joe sounds like you know a thing or two about log homes, ive done only one in my carreer, can you give a few pionters for us on what goes wrong or what to check for?


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    How do you correct roof drainage given the log end protrude under the slope section? As others have mentioned they need to be cut back.


  12. #12

    Thumbs up Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Sure does sound like you have a lot of experience with log home construction. I have heard of the injection repair method in the past. I'll relay that information to may client but not sure if we'll be able to find someone local who has experience or able to that repair. I'm sure we can come up with something.

    As you know with general inspections the time and extent of intrusive inspection is rather limited, but man some of these logs were really soft. Hard defect to miss at least.

    As you said too the logs are laid tight together and caulked as opposed to wider chinking I've seen on other homes. I'll throw up some more photos here when I get back of the side walls just for comment.

    Thanks again. Always look forward to throwing up something I run into I'm not real familiar with here and just wait for the replies. Great resources


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Yes, full wall shots with some close ups would help, I never let the facia or rake board notch over the upper flt rafter log like they did, my opinion the facia should of gone over the logs end, stepping it back the 3/4" from the facia board (the log end is beyond the pine facia and rake board) most kit homes extend the upper roof log longer then the bottom corner over hangs, this helps prevent the moisture run down the corners like you see, which caused damage on the lower logs and some of the damage could of been avoided. Once they check on the top or sides, it creates a trough for the moisture to lay in.

    The roof looks to be a standard cold roof system meaning the builder nailed a T&G knotty pine ceiling over the roof purlins, hopefully a layer of 15# felt as the vapor barrier, and then 1 or 2 layers of ridgid insulation with sleepers spiked through the insulation and into the purlins or maybe raftered logs, The strip vent is seen in a picture showing the soffit which also adds to the assumption of the posible type of cold roof system.This system is installed on log kits or back wood cabins.

    What to look for in an inspection,
    always doors and windows tight in the rough opening, a time tested installation practice has been installing dimensional lumber in the log opening perimeter keeping the side jambs a miminal space of 3/8" cut short on the top and another 3/8 min on the bottom side 2x's, The door or window have to float in the log opening. Thats checked by opening and closing the item looking for rubs or squeezed window sashes. the next issue is always mechanical, we all know hackers show no mercy to any building, and carpenters never grasp not to install a floor joist 15" from a bathroom wall where the toilet goes.

    The rest is really standard, we used to drill and bury the switches and wires up the wall, which is a project. Maintenance is always the killer on these buildings, no building is maintenance free and log homes, when constructed properly are very easy to heat and cool. I will never state what the equal R value is because its called thermal mass, no R value number can be achieved on a piece od wood 1" thick or more. The molecular structure of the log heats up on the interior in the winter and reflects it back into the habital space and reverses in the summer, the exterior log heats up the log surface to a certain point and reflecks the heat out, creating a cool home inside,same theory in summer... thus when well constructed are really solid homes.

    Correct me if I am wrong, Pa just adopted the 2006 building codes, so you guys have your hands full on what the local authority having jurisdiction approved prior. Here in the saprano state, we have had the luxury of watching buildings not built to adopted codes since 1975.

    Please let us know if the building is raftered logs or purlin and some wall shots where the logs butt each other, some rough old kits it could be Kuiken Brothers or New Engand Log Homes, those guys have been around a while and sold in Pa

    Joseph Ehrhardt
    Building Forensic Specialist LLC

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    What to look for in an inspection,
    always doors and windows tight in the rough opening, a time tested installation practice has been installing dimensional lumber in the log opening perimeter keeping the side jambs a miminal space of 3/8" cut short on the top and another 3/8 min on the bottom side 2x's, The door or window have to float in the log opening. Thats checked by opening and closing the item looking for rubs or squeezed window sashes.
    I believe the vertical board in the openings is called a "buck board?" The attachement of the buck board should be provided with routered slots so the fastening screws are free to float given that logs will expand and contract cross grain?


  15. #15

    Smile Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Well here are some more photos I had of the home. The issue with the edge of the roof overhanging and more or less draining into the ends of the logs is such a no brainier. I mean think about it. Well I guess your right this is what we have here in PA where building codes were not even a thought until 2003 and still are not understood.

    The one photo here is from under a corner where the logs had been badly damaged. Note that the pictures is from a garage without a fire rated ceiling of course

    I don't know if this one picture I had uploaded with the roof. This was a vacation home that was very poorly maintained. Log homes are not for everyone that is for certain.

    Thank you all for your feedback!

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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    To add to Raymonds comment, yes Buck board or Buck frames are terms used to dicribe the members, I have heard of kits using the slotted method and I am sure thats do to the type of system, I have only used two 10D common nails through the 2x4 buckboard into each log end exposed in the opening, again, the key has always been the gaps in the top and bottom for shrink/compression.

    The picture with the corner window shows the log butt ends only lapping roughly 2 foot, typical log home kits are stepped back in a sequence because every thing is laid out to minimize waste. This has a lot of signs random lengths of logs were sold and field fabricated. I also did not see any purlins on the gable, so they may have used dimensional lumber as rafters.

    The joints look tight from your pictures. this home was a lack of maintenance for sure. That facia is such the problem, gutters were not installed for the snow you get, but the carpenter should know to cut that log back, let the facia go over the log end. Like installing molding, every thing should shadow or step back, create a reveal.You may want to recomend that, even cutting the lower logs back and resealing.

    Joseph Ehrhardt
    Building Forensic Specialist LLC

  17. #17
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Many times logs are also repaired with an epoxy product that soaks the wood and hardens what is left of the wood. Pretty much the same type of repair that is done to historic structures when they can't replace the wood.

    Correction of the roof drainage will make a big difference.
    Similar material is used for dry-rot in boats----wood repaired using this method can be refinished or not.


  18. #18
    Jim Mulkern's Avatar
    Jim Mulkern Guest

    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    It looks to me also that it is a conventional roof, not purlins or heavy timber rafters. I do have a contact who specializes in log home repair. There certainly was a lot done poorly in the roof design but it shows how tough logs really are considering how it was built. Proper design and maintenance cure a lot of ills.


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Niwot, Colorado
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    Default Re: Log Home In Trouble

    Off topic but just curious: No one mentioned what appears to be a radon reduction system protruding from the sidewall with no apparent sealant or flashing. I wonder if it was added later & what type of basement or crawl space there is: like whether or not it's ventilated & how the drainage is there?

    Ross Morgan
    Morgan Inspection Service
    (Boulder and other weird areas too)

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