ARTICE LIBRARY: THE FACTS ABOUT LOG HOMES AND INSECTSHearing of insects invading – like termites, carpenter bees and wood boring beetles just to name a few could scare of any prospect log home buyer. But wait! Let’s learn a little more about each before you are scared off.
Many people erroneously believe that log homes are very susceptible to termite infestation and damage. In reality one could argue that log homes are less susceptible to such damage than stick framed homes – especially if preventative measures are taken during the construction of your log home.
To begin with it is best to ensure that there is a good distance between dirt and first wood, eight inches at a minimum for most areas. Putting concrete (foundation) between dirt and wood prevents termites from getting to the wood because they have difficulty climbing up the concrete and they are then very visible.
Do not bury any wood near your home during construction. It is important to know that in many jurisdictions this is allowed up to a certain percentage of building debris on-site. Buried wood quickly gets wet and soft and turns into an appetizer for termites. When the appetizer is gone, guess where they turn to for the main course? Straight up to your house!
You need to understand how termites might interact with the style of foundation that your home rests on. For instance, a slab foundation usually puts wood very close to dirt, and thus it is more vulnerable. A poured continuous concrete foundation often develops small cracks through which termites can enter your home. With a poured continuous foundation one should really also 'ring the home' with a 6-inch layer of barrier sand (known as "Termite sand" which is 10-16 mesh sand). Cinder block foundations are the least desirable in regards to termite protection since they often have large cracks and gaps which termites travel through undetected. Perhaps the most advantageous foundation is pier blocks since they provide a good distance from dirt to first wood and there is no basement through which termites can enter your log home (no cracks for them to travel through).
In termite prone areas, it is also best to always use a 'termite shield' on top of your foundation. A termite shield is a thin piece of sheet metal that goes on top of your foundation under your sill plate. Termites climb up the foundation, encounter the downward angled piece of continuous sheet metal at the top of the foundation and can’t find a way to get around it to eat your wood. The preventative measure of last resort would be to treat the soil around your home during construction. This involves impregnating the soil with an insecticide.
Last but not least, a homeowner should conduct periodic visual inspections of their home. Such inspections will ensure that maintenance issues will be addressed promptly.
Wood Boring Insects such as Carpenter Bees
"A number of insects bore into the fresh logs, or standing trees, that will become log homes. These wood boring insects feed on the starch reserves stored there by the living tree. Fortunately only a few wood borers do significant damage because most can't infest seasoned wood. Extensive damage can be avoided with relatively inexpensive treatments." Jack DeAngelis, PhD
This means your best defense is a good offense. Carpenter bees and other wood boring insects are not prone to invade treated wood. Therefore, if the lumber purchased for the building is treated properly then many of your concerns are avoided initially. Again regular visual inspections of the home will reveal areas that need to be re-stained or re-painted that are exposed to the exterior elements. Be sure to look gaps or cracks as well as insects only need very small points of entry. Keep the areas between your logs well sealed.
Preventive measures are always the way to go! Here are a few to get you started and maintain an insect free log home: