How to Check Your Wood Home for Air Leaks

Reduce your utility bill this Winter by checking for air leaks in your home. A few air leaks can cost you many extra dollars per month. The key is to find and seal these air leaks before the super cold weather sets in.  Check out the 3 ways to successfully locate air leaks below.

Energy.gov  recommends first performing a visual inspection. On the outside of your home, make sure to inspect all areas where two different building materials meet including :

  • All exterior corners
  • Outdoor water faucets
  • Where siding and chimneys meet
  • Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

On the inside of your home:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Switch plates
  • Door and window frames
  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Baseboards
  • Weather stripping around doors
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Attic hatches
  • Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Where dryer vents pass through walls
  • Vents and fans

Easy Do It Yourself Method

Set aside time to locate air leaks on a cool Fall day, when the outside temperature is at least 20 degrees lower than the temperature in your home.

Items you will need:

  • Small bucket of warm waterEnergy Seal Box Logo
  • A piece of chalk
  • A step stool or ladder depending on the height of your ceilings.
  • Caulking material
  • Backer rod
  • Caulking gun
  • Masking tape
  1. Dip your hand in the water and run your wet hand over the interior walls, making sure to keep your hand about 6-12 inches away from the wall surface.
  2.  You will easily feel the cold air if there are leaks in the walls.
  3. Make sure to use this method around doors and windows, as those are often places where air leaks develop.
  4. Mark these areas where you feel cold air with the chalk.
  5. Once you locate leaks, the best way to close up cracks and crevices is from the outside.  Sealing a leak from the outside will prevent further air infiltration as well as water.
  6. The opening source of the leak outside may be several inches from the spot where it is felt inside the home. Continue to seal the area until the person on the inside no longer detects the air leak. For step by step information on sealing areas on log homes see our Energy Seal application page.
  7. In some areas, it may be necessary to use a flexible backing material, see information on backer rod.

Advanced Do It Yourself Methodblue fan

  1. For a more advanced and detailed way of finding leaks, place a box fan in a window or door blowing outward.
  2. Cover the rest of the opening with plastic sheeting. Doing this will draw cold air into your home through the leaks making them easier to find.
  3. Once you have located and marked your leaks, continue on with the steps listed above.

Hire a Professional

Another option for dealing with the air leaks in your home is hiring a professional to locate and caulk the leaks. If you know you have quite a few drafts and leaks to caulk, this may be the most time-efficient option.

With a little patience, time and diligence you can be on your way to utility savings and a warmer house.

Thanks to Perma-Chink Systems, LLC for providing inspiration and reference for this article.

Additional Source:

http://energy.gov/energysaver/air-sealing-your-home

Tips for Preventing and Treating Cluster Flies

In late Fall and early Winter many homeowners notice large flies gathering in warm windows, in attics and loft spaces. These flies are called Cluster Flies. During Winter, Cluster Flies hibernate indoors where it is warm. You will often find them “clustered” in groups on the warm sides of your home. Jackie Davis from Cottage Life states, “Cluster flies don’t feed, breed, or lay eggs inside, so if you do nothing, they’ll either leave on their own, or die”. Really, they are just a nuisance, with their loud buzzing and the feeling of unease created by having creepy crawlies on your ceiling. Here are a couple ways to keep your home Cluster Fly free this Winter.

Close all cracks and crevices on your home

The first and best defense against Cluster Flies is to keep them from coming into your home. Cluster Flies are attracted to the warmth of a heated space and usually enter homes through small cracks and crevices. Make sure to seal up all these areas around your home including windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys and under fascia with good quality caulking. Make sure to do this well before cool temperatures arrive.

Patch or replace all window and door screens

Torn window and door screens are a easy way for Cluster Flies to enter your home. Patch or replace these before cool temperatures arrive.

Use a fly swatter or vacuum

If Cluster Flies do get into your home, and on warmer days find their way out of hibernation you will notice their sluggish buzzing around your house.  If they become bothersome, the simple use of a fly swatter can remedy the problem.

A vacuum is also an option if they are clustering in accessible windows or ceilings.

Do not use insecticides

FightBugs.com states that timing of insecticide sprays for Cluster Flies is crucial. Too early and the insecticide gets broken down by the sun and does not effect the flies, too late and the flies are already in your house. In addition, insecticides must be sprayed every year. We do not recommend spraying insecticides on the interior or exterior of your house.  The danger to you and your family far outweighs the benefits. We also do not recommend using an insecticide powder to kill flies where they cluster, this will cause the flies to die in your walls which could then attract Carpet Beetles. Carpet Beetles then feed on the dead flies and can wreak havoc on woolens, dry goods and other natural items in your home.

Practicing preventative tactics is really the best way to deal with Cluster Flies, if they can’t get in, they can’t bother you.  It may take several years of regularly sealing cracks to eliminate Cluster Flies, but in the end your work will pay off.

Reference sites:

http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/cluster-flies

http://www.orkin.com/flies/cluster-flies/

http://cottagelife.com/environment/how-to-get-rid-of-cluster-flies

http://www.fightbugs.com/get-rid-cluster-flies/

Should You Choose Energy Seal or Perma-Chink?

LogFinish.com is a stocking distributor of Perma-Chink products. The following article was provided to LogFinish.com for re-publication by Perm-Chink Systems, LLC.

Which Log Home Sealant Should I Use?

We are asked this question very frequently about our two biggest selling log home sealants. Both of these sealants were formulated to weatherproof joinery in log and log sided buildings. Our simplest answer is that in general, Perma-Chink should be used in applications where the seam width is one inch or wider and Energy Seal is a better choice in sealant seams that are narrower than one inch or where joinery was not intended to have chinking applied to it. However, this answer is overly simplistic when you consider the variety of log profiles and joinery types and many different surfaces that come together to make up a finished log structure.

What is the Difference?

Log Home Interior Using Perma-Chink®
perma-chink

Perma-Chink is our original log home sealant (and the company namesake). It was formulated to look like the concrete mortar that was typically used on full-log construction at that time. It is the original elastic log home sealant. Today Perma-Chink is available in eight different colors, some of which look like concrete, the others are various wood tones.

Log Home Interior Using Energy Seal™
energy seal

Energy Seal was formulated at the request of our customers at a much later date. These customers had homes that were usually built with log profiles that did not use chinking, but required weatherproofing some time after they were finished and in use. Because the application surfaces were never intended for a sealant application, they don’t have proper geometry that includes a caulking well to allow for sealant and backing material installation. Consequently, we formulated Energy Seal to have higher elongation performance. Energy Seal comes in a wide selection of 12 colors for customers who would prefer to conceal the sealant or even to match the chinking on their log home.

es-pcEnergy Seal is a Better Choice in the Following Situations:

In general, Energy Seal is a better choice for very demanding, narrow seam application where more stretch is required in a narrow sealant seam. It is also the best choice if you would like the sealant to blend in with the wood surface and not be easily seen. Energy Seal is an excellent choice for use in sealing around doors and windows, butt joints, corners, and junctions between log walls and other surfaces such as beams, rooflines or framed walls.

Perma-Chink is a Better Choice When:

Many log homes are designed, manufactured and constructed with chinking an integral part of the building envelope. Perma-Chink is the clear choice in this situation.  Additionally, Perma Chink is ideal to use when sealing up the junction between wood walls and concrete, brick or stone features like fireplaces, stone accents and walls.

Tips for Maintaining Your Wood Home

“Maintenance should not be viewed as a chore or just an expense, it should be considered as an investment in your home’s longevity and value. Properly cared for log homes will appreciate in value, rather than depreciate. “ -Tony Huddleston, Perma-Chink Systems.

 

Wood homes require more maintenance than painted or vinyl sided homes. When you have a wood home it is important to know that you are working with a natural material that will sunburn (graying of the wood) and dry out if not properly maintained over the years. Most log finish manufacturers will give you a time frame during which you should apply a maintenance coat. Some don’t. The tips in this article will help you know when it is time to apply a maintenance coat.

  • Every log or wood sided home is different. Each home has a variety of factors that influence when you will need to apply a maintenance coat. Some of those factors include the age and porosity of the wood, how the wood was maintained before it was stained, if the wood has been sanded and what type of weather elements the wood is exposed to on a regular basis.
  • It is important to wash your home annually. While washing with a wood-specific cleaner like Log Wash, take the time to evaluate your wood home wall by wall.
  • Wall by wall evaluation before applying a maintenance coat makes sure you will avoid excess build up of previous coatings. Know that if a manufacturer recommends applying a maintenance re-coat every 3-5 years, that one wall could need re-staining every 3 years and another every 5 or more years depending on exposure to elements.
  • For penetrating finishes like Seal-Once Poly Blend and Outlast Q8 Log Oil, watch for fading, cracking or checking of the wood and reduced water repellency as indications of when to apply a maintenance coat.
  • For film forming finishes like WeatherSeal, Perma-Chink and Sikkens Proluxe Log & Siding, look for fading, chalking, flaking, cracking or checking of the wood and reduced sheen. Do not wait until these finishes peel because it is likely that the surface will need to be stripped before re-application.
  • Make your maintenance checklist a yearly to-do. Again, take some time to walk around your home and assess the wood. Do you see fading or reduced water repellency? Wood that looks dry? Reduced sheen? All these symptoms indicate it is time to re-stain.
  • Regular maintenance and inspections can save you money over time. With a little time, attention to detail and knowledge you can maintain your home on a regular basis with little worry on what to do and when.

5 Reasons To Clean Your Log Home This Weekend

 1.  Maintain the beauty and functionality of your exterior finish.

2.  Dust, pollen, and other airborne gunk provide a food source for all kinds of ugly fungal growth on your logs.

3.  If you added a contact insecticide to your exterior stain:  dirt accumulating on the exterior surface of your home will prevent bugs from contacting the treated surface and the attempt at bug-be-gone just won’t happen.

4.  Helps you spend some quality time with the exterior of your home by getting a good look at the physical condition of your logs/siding to see if there are any areas that need caulking or chinking.

5. A regular gentle cleaning of the exterior of your home can extend the life of the finish making less work for you in the long run.
Remember: A complete and regular maintenance schedule will save you money and time!

 

To find instructions on cleaning your log home and why we strongly recommend you don’t use bleach:  Cleaning Your Log Home

Helpful Hints for Winterizing Your Log Home

It’s October, and that means it’s time to winterize your log home. You may have cold weather already, or it could be just around the corner, but taking these simple steps to winterize now means your home will be protected before it gets too cold to bear!

Inspect Your Logs
If you have temperatures above 50 degrees, you can still re-coat your home and decks with stain. Follow-ing recommended maintenance schedules protects the integrity of the wood and enhances the beauty of your home. We recommend washing first with Log Wash for light surface cleaning.
Fill checks in logs, and any gaps around doors, windows, and exterior ventilation openings to prevent moisture infiltration from ice, rain and snow, and to keep indoor heat from escaping. We recommend Energy Seal, and Checkmate 2.

Inspect Your Landscaping
Trim tree branches resting on your roof or hanging too close to power lines. Heavy snow piling up can wreak havoc!
Fall is the perfect time to seal concrete driveways and patios so they hold up to damaging Winter salts and freezing temps. It’s also important to fill cracks while they’re small to prevent spreading. We recommend Seal-Once Concrete & Masonry Waterproof Sealer.
Pulling up a dock or keeping your outdoor wood furniture on the patio? Seal it with a good water-proofer to protect it from harsh elements. We recommend Seal-Once Poly Blend and Seal-Once Marine.

Inspect Your Foundation and Roof
Rake leaves and excess vegetation away from your foundation to keep unwanted critters and wood boring insects at bay. Dry, brittle pine needles are a potential fire hazard. Reduce your risk by clearing them away from your home and off your roof. If you are in an area prone to natural fires, consider protecting your home with a flame retardant. We recommend Flame Seal Wood Seal.

Whether you plan to stay in your log home through the Winter or leave and return in the Spring, properly winterizing protects your home through those cold Winter months and extends its life for many years of enjoyment.

 

Many thanks to LogFinish.com’s, Jennifer Fludd for this fantastic article!

Quick Maintenance Checklist for Your Log Cabin

Take a moment to walk around your home.

Here are some signs that your cabin may need a new coat of stain or caulking/chinking maintenance:

  1. Faded finish on South or West exterior walls
  2. Varying shades on top and bottom of logs
  3. Gray discoloration from weathering
  4. Blonde color around checks and cracks
  5. Gaps between caulking/chinking joints
  6. Presence of mold, mildew or excessive dirt
  7. Cracking,  peeling or flaking of the log finish
  8. Water repellency is an easy way to determine when it’s time to apply a maintenance coat.

To check if the stain on your home is still repelling water, perform the following simple test:

Hose down your home. If the water beads up, you still have good protection and can wait 6-12 months before your next application. If the water soaks into the wood, it’s time to reapply.

 

For more information on all things log cabins, check out our other Log Blog articles, check out www.LogFinish.com, or give us a call @ 1-888-208-2248.  We are here to help!

Product Spotlight: Seal-Once™ Total Wood Protection-Breakthrough Technology in Wood Finishes

LogFinish.com has been in the wood finish business for nearly two decades.  In all this time, there have been very few major product developments, despite changes in customer demand.  We believe we have finally found a game changer!

Seal-Once Total Wood Protection offers a state of the art approach to protecting wood surfaces.  We have  joined forces with it’s developer, New Image Coatings, and we are proud to offer you this revolutionary product proudly made in the USA.

Seal-Once Total Wood Protection is a high-performance water-based, non-toxic waterproofer and wood sealer that incorporates nanotechnology to provide a unique, long-lasting protective coating for all wood surfaces.  It is available in clear and tinted formulas which penetrate deep into the wood’s surface.  As it cures, it forms an interior film that prevents water from infiltrating the wood.

Seal-Once protects wood against water, mold, mildew and UV damage.  It is non-flammable, contains no V.O.C.s, toxins or irritants, and it exceeds current eco-requirements.  Best of all, Seal-Once lasts for up to 6 years on horizontal surfaces and up to 10 years on vertical surfaces.

Seal-Once Total Wood Protection has proven excellence in field performance.  Give it a try for your next project; you will not be disappointed!

Also, check out Seal-Once Marine for docks and piers.  This one-of-a-kind formula is safe for use directly over water without harming aquatic life or polluting the environment.

 

Check out how Seal Once™Total Wood Protection works in the video below:

 

For more information on this breakthrough in wood finishing technology click here

 

What You Should Know Before Using a Clear Wood Finish

Our customers often ask us for a clear or “natural” finish that will protect their wood.  The truth is, clear finishes may provide water repellency, resistance against mold and mildew and insecticidal properties.  However,  clear finishes do not  protect your log home from UV rays that cause weathering and graying of your home’s exterior, decks and rails.  With most clear finishes you will notice graying wood within 1-2 years of initial application.

Why will the exterior of your home turn gray if you only use a clear finish to protect it?   UV rays break down the lignan fibers in the wood which in turn causes the wood to gray.  

Semi-transparent, tinted wood finishes provide your wood with UV protection.  Different stain brands contain various UV inhibitors, but the rule of thumb is the darker the tint of the stain, the better the UV protection for your house.  If your house is located in a high sun area, where it is fully exposed for hours at a time, LogFinish.com recommends going using a finish with a medium to dark tint.

If your deck or wood exteriors are weathered and gray and you are looking to clean them up, re-stain and bring the wood back to it’s natural color, we recommend using an oxalic acid based product like X-180 Weathered Wood Restorer from American Building Restoration.  This product is a wood cleaner and brightener and will take the gray out of lightly to severely discolored wood.

Another option for cleaning gray, weathered wood is oxygen based detergent and brightening cleaners like All Wood Cleaner from New Image Coatings.  This is cleaner has very low environmental impact, can be used safely over water and will not harm plants.  All Wood Cleaner harnesses the power of oxygen to clean and brighten wood without harsh chemicals.

When cleaning your deck or exterior wood we do not recommend using bleach.  Bleach can cause streaking, spotting and even break down wood fibers.

 

How to Pick the Best Exterior Stain or Finish for Your Log Cabin-Part 2

1.  Have you treated your logs with a wood preservative?  If not, you can use an all-in-one wood preservative and wood finish  by applying Q8 Log Oil.  Other finishes such as Sikkens Cetol Log and Siding, and Lifeline Ultra 2 and 7 require a borate wood preservative before applying  the finish.

 

2. Are you concerned about making sure your logs are flame retardant?  If you live in a fire-prone area or you just want to protect your log home from the unthinkable, think about applying a flame retardant like Flame Seal which gives your home a Class A fire rating.

 

3. Would you like the finish to be film-forming or penetrate into the logs?  Outlast Q8 Log Oil  is a penetrating finish that soaks into the logs.  Sikkens and Perma-Chink products form a satin or gloss film on the wood to protect it.

 

4. Would you like a flat matte finish or a shiny satin/gloss finish?  Some people like a matte finish which gives wood  a natural, textured look.  Others like the sheen or shine created by satin or glossy finishes.

 

5. How often are you willing to retreat the home in the following years?  Some finishes require re-application in 2-3 years, after the initial coat.  Others require application every 3-7 years.  What are you willing to do?

 

6. Is a warranty on the finish you purchase important to you?   Perma-Chink Systems offers a 3-5 year warranty on their Lifeline Ultra 2 and Ultra 7  products when applied to their standards and proof of purchase is provided.

 

7. What is your budget?  Exterior finishes can range  from $1.75 a square foot to $8.50 a square foot including labor.

 

8. Are you finishing the house yourself or are you hiring someone to do the work?  Different finishes require different methods of application.  It is important to apply finishes according to the product label.  Sometimes hiring an experienced person to do the work is best, since they may already have the special equipment needed for application.

 

9. What is the weather?  Most stains need to be applied between 40-90 degrees Fahrenheit in dry weather.  Products should always be applied at temperatures specified by the product label.  Many finishes should not be applied in direct sunlight.  Some finishes dry in a couple of hours, others dry overnight and still others take several days to dry.

 

So, end the end, keep in mind that there is no “best” finish, just the best finish for you and your log home. If you have any questions about the information we have posed please do call us at 1-888-208-2248.