Making Sure Your Log Cabin Is Safe
There’s undeniably something special about staying in a log cabin. Of course, it depends largely on where you’re going on vacation. A log cabin in the middle of New York City isn’t something I’d recommend, obviously. But if you’re taking a vacation that is seeing you reconnect with nature, then a log cabin is essential. Planning a short stay in the mountains? A log cabin is what you need. Thinking about living in a forest for a while? Become one with the surroundings by staying in a log cabin.
They’re the ultimate home away from home. A log cabin, more than any other form of vacation stay, feels more like a break from your usual reality. They’re generally found in private and relaxed atmospheres, surrounded by natural beauty. You can enjoy the tranquil silence that nature provides. Or, far away from anyone else, you could go all out and have a loud party without fear of the neighbors calling the police. Renting a log cabin is also, in general, a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel room or renting a vacation home. This is especially true if you’re in a large group of friends or with your family.
Of course, being as far away from people as you may find yourself in a log cabin may have some disadvantages. Namely, it’s the difficulty in getting assistance if something goes wrong. Not that it shouldn’t be easy enough to contact the person who has rented you the cabin. But it’s best to make sure the log cabin is inspected thoroughly for any potential safety or comfort issues before you begin your stay. What are the biggest problems of a log cabin that you should be on the lookout for? Structural problems caused by splits and cracks are one. Pests are another. How to we deal with them?
Cracks, gaps, holes, splits
Look at any home and you’ll probably find a few cracks in the structure. But these problems are especially prevalent in log cabins. Not only that, but they’re also liable to cause more problems that in a brick home.
As you probably know by now, wood is pretty tough. Otherwise, how could the log cabin industry even exist, right? With proper maintenance, log cabins have lasted hundreds of years. But you’re simply not going to find an authentic log cabin that hasn’t had a problem with cracks and splits over the years. It’s a natural part of the process. As wood ages – and this goes for pretty much any wood you could possibly name – it begins to split. Whereas cracks in the walls of a regular home won’t see many severe problems arise, a log cabin is, obviously, very different. Those logs are the barrier between you and the outside world. They’re not layered in the way the walls of a regular home are. Splits and cracks in the logs, as well as gaps and holes in-between the logs, are going to cause insulation problems.
You don’t want to feel the outside breeze quite that much, do you? So if you find there are one too many cracks or splits, then what do you do? To fix this problem, you need to fill up the areas with filling materials that start as a tough liquid and begin to solidify. As for the areas in-between the logs, these need to be seen to via a process known as chinking. For more about these processes, see Weatherall for details.
Termites! (and other pests)
Wood can be pretty annoying sometimes, right? In some ways, it’s the perfect building material. But, as many homeowners know, there are several problems that come with it. The main source of these problems is that wood is biodegradable. You may connect that word with good things. Possibly because non-biodegradable materials are bad for the environment. But there is a big problem with biodegradable materials. Insects are going to want to eat it. As are fungi and bacteria.
Not to sound too childish, but ew, right? One of the most famous problems with wood as a building material is the presence of termites. You’ve probably heard of this problem in relation to your own home. Termites love to sneak into the tiny gaps in wood and start eating away at it from the inside. For this reason, you often can’t tell that you have a termite problem until it’s too late. This would cause some structural weakness in a regular home. But in a log cabin? Where wood is largely the only thing between you and the outside? It can be even more disastrous.
Wander around the cabin and keep an eye on the wood. Do you see any insects at all? You should also keep an eye out for winged insects, or discarded wings from insects, around the cabin in general. These are often a sign of termites. As you explore the cabin, give as many areas as you can a knock with your knuckles. Every part of the cabin should sound thick and solid. It shouldn’t sound hollow. If any of the logs sound hollow, then it means that the wood is disappearing from the inside. Where has the wood gone? Probably inside the stomachs of termites.
Ants and wasps can also become problems with log cabins, as they too like to spend time with wood. So what is one to do? There are certain wood preservatives that are designed to kill such pests, as well as bacteria and fungi. But the toxicity of these treatments raises environmental concerns. You’ve probably heard about the health and ecology concerns that come with pesticides. It’s the same problem here. If you want to use a preservative, check the toxicity of the product. There are less toxic treatments available if you look hard enough. You should also consider some form of barrier. A steel mesh is probably the most common. You can also get a thin piece of sheet metal that covers areas of the cabin; this is called, appropriately, a termite shield. If you’re renting a log cabin, ask the person from whom you’re renting it what anti-pest measures are in place.