During the winter months many homeowners use firewood as a source of heat or create an attractive atmosphere. But along with the firewood comes many types of living pests. Most firewood pests will not harm people or animals, nor will they start infestations of wood within the home.
However, there are a few pests, like Black Widow spiders, that are of concern. Some types of wood boring beetle infestations occasionally begin by emerging from stored firewood. But most pests are harmless, yet annoying, insects like cockroaches, pillbugs, centipedes, ground beetles, and sowbugs that all like to hide over winter beneath bark, or in the cracks of firewood, becoming active within days after the firewood is brought into a warm home.
By Seth Murphy
Owning a home is a big part of the American Dream: a place to call home, where your family grows and thrives. Being a homeowner however, has its fair share of responsibilities and it’s a year round job. As you prepare for winter and ice storms, there are a few must do’s to ensure your family’s peace of mind. Every homeowner is inevitably faced with the possibility of having to hire a professional to do home repairs and maintenance. However, there are plenty of DIY maintenance tips that can keep your house in tip top shape so you can save the most complicated jobs to the professionals.
Perma-Chink has evolved into an elastomeric compound that has been specifically designed for use in log home sealing applications. Perma-Chink adds to the overall integrity of the structure by not only preventing water and air from entering the home, but also adding greatly to the overall effectiveness of the entire building envelope - keeping heat and air from escaping during the heating and cooling seasons. While it looks fantastic when properly applied, Perma-Chink is most definitely a sealant first and a cosmetic product second.
It should also be mentioned that a properly applied chinking compound will help keep out unwanted insects and other nuisance pests. In the case of a “chinkless” style home, many homeowners often desire to add a chink line for cosmetic purposes to differentiate the home from a smooth-sided home. Or oftentimes on a full log wall system Perma-Chink is used as a contrast in the color of the chosen finish.
In many areas of the country when cool, fall days arrive, Asian lady beetles (ladybugs), Harmonia axyridis, and boxelder bugs, Boisea trivittatus, congregate on exterior walls. They typically choose the south and west facing walls since these walls are the warmest. Once on the wall they look for nooks, crannies and other dark openings where they can hibernate over the winter. Log checks, gaps between butt joints and corner openings provide ideal wintering sites for these insects. If any opening leads to the inside of the home, they can become a real nuisance, especially if they enter in large numbers. An effective method to handle them inside is with a vacuum cleaner. Spraying them with pesticides is unnecessary and unhealthy.
The best way to keep them out of your home is to block their entry points with a sealant, screening and weather stripping. Using high quality sealants like Energy Seal™ or Woodsman™ will help prevent these and other insects from entering your home for years to come. When sealing, pay special attention to window and door frames. That's where openings typically appear as a home settles and logs season.
More wood is replaced each year because of decay damage than all other factors combined! Commonly called rot, wood destroying fungi need three things to survive: air, water, and food. Since we can't eliminate air and their food is the wood in our homes, the only mechanical control mechanism available to us is the elimination of water. Water is the enemy of wood! Although we've all heard the term "dry rot," dry wood will not rot!
There are three basic categories of wood-destroying fungi: soft rot, brown rot and white rot. Soft rot fungi are typically found in wet wood showing the first signs of decay. Wood infected with soft rot can become quite soft and spongy. Other than the softness of the wood and perhaps discoloration of the surface, there may be no apparent signs of a soft rot infestation.
Have you noticed your heating bill increasing year after year? It could be that your home has cracks that let heat escape, costing you money. Seal up cracks and seams before the weather turns cold and it’s too late to do anything about it.
Specifically designed for milled and scribed log homes, Energy Seal is a revolutionary product offering superior binders that effectively seal all interior and exterior gaps and cracks.
Energy Seal is a 100% acrylic polymer sealant formulated to provide a long-lasting and resilient barrier for any chinkless log home. Since logs constantly twist, turn, swell, and shrink during the life of a log home, annoying gaps can appear. These gaps promote the retention of moisture, which can lead to log decay and damage, as well as seepage of air and water.
We occasionally get calls about the exterior of a home that has turned black.
Almost without fail it's the result of using an oil-based stain that contained linseed oil.
Linseed oil is a yellowish oil derived from the dried seeds of flax plants, and is also known as flax seed oil. Linseed oil is used as a carrier in many brands of oil-based paints and stains. Since linseed oil is organic, many varieties of mold fungi thrive on it. Over time mold can proliferate to point where the coated surface can turn dark brown to black. One way to tell if the darkening is due to mold rather than UV damage is inspecting areas protected from direct sunlight like under eaves and overhangs; it will be the same dark color as the rest of the wall.
Wood is a hygroscopic material, which means it naturally absorbs and releases moisture from the environment. Logs can safely absorb large quantities of water before reaching moisture content levels that will be inviting for decay fungi.
Some of the most vulnerable areas of a log home are the corner log ends. This is because the cross section end grain is exposed and the ends often stick out beyond the walls allowing sunlight, wind, rain, snow and ice to wear away the stain and expose bare wood.
The exposed end grain acts like small straws sucking water into the log, giving rot and decay an opportunity to start eating away the wood. In addition, wood cracks and checks are prone to start at the ends. If left unprotected long enough, log or log corner replacement may eventually be required.
Being aware of the susceptibility of log ends to weathering, rot and decay, we developed Log End Seal, a clear polymer finish that prevents water from penetrating into log ends and provides a layer of protection against log end damage. Although it is a sealer, Log End Seal is designed to allow moisture already in the wood to slowly escape. This helps reduce those large checks that often form on log ends.
A hollowed out piece of timber on your home might make a convenient storage space for sports equipment or toys, but it's a problem. Before you panic and list your home up on Zillow or Redfin, let's take a look at the situation.
How much decay have you found?
If it's not halfway deep through the log, or less than a couple of feet lengthwise, odds are it can be repaired easily. M-Balm and E-Wood from Perma-Chink Systems are specially formulated epoxies designed to repair decay and soft spots in homes.
The biggest threat to log homes is decay damage, caused by moisture-loving fungi. The three basic categories of wood-destroying fungi are soft rot, brown rot, and white rot. Preventing rot begins with eliminating as much contact as possible with moisture, which breeds fungi. The best prevention is using borate preservatives, which destroy wood fungi and protect against decay.
If you do discover decay in your logs during inspections, it can most likely be mitigated and eliminated without the need for a costly log replacement. If the decay does not exceed more than half the depth of the log, or only a few feet lengthwise, use M-Balm and E-Wood.
E-Wood epoxy after hardening can be cut, sanded, and finished like real wood.
Every spring we get lots of calls about carpenter bees drilling into logs, fascia boards, eaves, decks and other unpainted wood surfaces. Carpenter bees are big black solitary bees that look similar to bumblebees but have bare, shiny backs whereas a bumblebee's back is hairy. Unlike honey bees that reproduce in hives, carpenter bees drill into wood in order to lay their eggs. Their holes are perfectly round and about 1/4 inch in diameter.
Although carpenter bees prefer hardwoods such as cedar, redwood, or cypress, they happily attack pine and most other species of wood. Even pressure treated wood is not immune from carpenter bee attack. As the bee drills into the wood, coarse sawdust may be seen coming out of the hole and piling up beneath the hole. Since it only takes a couple of hours for a carpenter bee to drill a hole a few inches deep, lots of holes can appear over a fairly short period of time.
Most carpenter bee activity occurs in early spring when male and female bees emerge after spending the winter in old nest tunnels. Once they have paired and mated the female bee drills into a suitable site while the male stays nearby to ward off intruders. Male carpenter bees often frighten people with their aggressive behavior but since they have no stinger they are essentially harmless. Females have a stinger but only use it if molested.
Once the initial hole is drilled through the surface, the bee will make a turn and excavate a tunnel along the grain of the wood. This tunnel, which may run for several inches, becomes the cavity where the female deposits her eggs. Several eggs are laid in individual chambers separated by plugs of pollen on which the larvae feed until they emerge as adults during the summer months. In addition to making new holes, carpenter bees also enlarge old tunnels. If left unattended for several years, serious damage to a wood member may result.