Written by: Brent King – Thermal Imaging & Log Technologies
Infrared Thermal Imaging
For many, living in a log home is a dream come true. They offer serenity and peace of mind and life just seems to be a little bit better when you live in one. Suddenly the reality of the maintenance and other issues set in and your dream home turns into a nightmare. One of the more common issues that have to be dealt with in every log home is air leakage and bug intrusion. These two problems seem to go hand in hand. Infrared Thermal Imaging is the most valuable tool for finding air leakage and bug intrusion in any log home. With this process, there needs to be an 18 to 20 degree temperature differential from inside to outside temperature. Creating negative pressure (blower door) that causes outside air to come inside through areas in the home that have been compromised, the imager can detect areas of air leakage with a special infrared camera and produced reports that precisely pinpoint exactly where the air is coming into the home. This could be from checks in the logs or even cracks or holes in the chinking.Logs tend to breath (expand & contract) with the warm and cold air that changes with the seasons. This is a process that you do not notice, but it is taking place right before your eyes. With this process come the issues of heat loss, black flies, stick bugs, and water intrusion into the log home. Checks in the logs are created by moisture evaporating out of the logs. These checks or cracks in the logs widen and become greater with the ever changing freezing and warming of the outside air.
Without Infrared Thermal Imaging of a log home, there is no way to know if the check goes all the way through the log or not. Without that information, proper treatment and correction of the problem cannot be achieved.
The dark blue areas in the picture above show the checks in the logs that leak all the way to the outside. There can be checks as small as one eight (1/8) in size that leak to the outside and are not visible to the human eye. Only with infrared technology can this be diagnosed and treated. Black flies can get into a log home through a hole this size. Heating cost also increase as heat escapes to the outside of your home and cooler air comes in.
After thermal imaging is done on your log home, there are reports that are generated from each individual finding. The home owner will receive a binder with copies of these reports and from that they will be able to see the why and how much of their money is leaking right to the outside.
After finding where the problem areas are from the reports that were generated, the job of sealing up the log home is the next step. The way this is done is to find the check or crack in the log that has air leakage, take a piece of backer rod (pliable triangular star foam rod) and insert in the crack, leaving quarter inch (1/4) depth from the top. Then either Sascho or Weatherall caulking is placed over the backer rod, which seals up the gap. There is a twofold purpose for doing this process. It will keep the insects out and it will keep water from entering in the check of the log.
Infrared Thermal Imaging technology is the best for diagnosing problems in log homes. The home owner will recoup the cost of the imaging usually within six months. Homeowners also need to know that with their log home there is a chance that next year they will most likely have some of the same issues to deal with because of the ever expanding and contracting of their home. The caulking that was applied could also tear in certain areas. Putting backer rod in the checks, as mentioned above, is crucial so that bugs will not be able to get into the home if the caulking fails.
It is possible to live the dream in a log home without too much trouble. But the best way to keep the dream from becoming a nightmare is to have it inspected with thermal imaging annually and conduct proper routine maintenance. You’ll be glad you did.