Log Home Advantagesby Hochstetler Log Homes on 2020-12-09 21:02:53
Log Homes are Energy Efficient
Unlike your great grandfather’s log cabin of long ago, log homes today are highly energy efficient. In their day, logs were installed green with the facing side hewn and the top and bottom natural round logs. Chinking made with mud, clay and straw, often as wide as the logs themselves, was mortared in-between the logs. Constant temperature changes with freezing and thawing and the logs drying caused them to shrink and twist making them inflexible, mortar-like chinking crack and pull away from the logs, creating large gaps and therefore, drafts. What I’ve heard referred to as an early form of “air conditioning.” At any rate not very energy efficient! No wonder people even yet today wrongly assume log homes are cold and drafty.
However, today with logs that are not only air-dried but also kiln-dried before they are milled, there is very little shrinkage or movement after they are put-in-place. Unlike in the old days, the logs are screwed together with long 1⁄4 inch screws every 30” or more and what’s more the logs are tongue & grooved with a continues double gasket system. The tongue & groove keeps them aligned while the long screws holds them snug on top of each other and the expandable gasket assures that they stay tightly sealed so that no air can come through.
More and more, building departments require our clients and builders to have blower door tests done in order to help determine if their homes are energy-efficient. Several times the different mechanical engineers doing the test on our log homes were baffled, thinking their instruments were malfunctioning. Only after redoing the test several times were they convinced that log homes were indeed much tighter than what they were anticipating. In fact, so tight that they recommended air exchangers to be installed in the home! One we know tested at (Ln) Normalized Leakage to 0.13 and another came back at .63 ACH50 which stands for air changes per hour–well below the Energy Star requirement of 3.0 or less.
Log Homes are more healthy.
In the last 75 years 1000’s of different chemicals have been introduced into our lives. One study says as much as 80,000! Some, I’m sure, are very safe for humans but other’s maybe not so much. In construction alone you could make a huge list of chemicals that get used to make building material for new homes, not to mention the chemicals that get used directly in building the homes themselves such as finishes, glues and caulking. Since the energy crunch of the 70’s we have been tightening the homes to make them more energy efficient which, in turn, has made the problem even worse. As contaminates get trapped inside, people can get ill. MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) is believed to have worsened as more people are exposed to polluted indoor air. We spend most of our time indoors as a nation which is said to be as much as 90%! And, what’s more young children, elderly and people with chronic illnesses get outdoor even less–the very population that is most vulnerable to chemicals. Experts say that poor air leads to or accelerates asthma, allergies, respiratory illness, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other serious conditions. And, could it make a difference in the negative impact of Covid 19? I believe it could.
While you can’t practically eliminate all chemicals in building a home, a log home does greatly reduce the amount of chemicals you and your family gets exposed to. Log homes are made of natural wood. The logs themselves don’t outgas; have little to no chemicals unless pressure treated, no formaldehydes and no fumes in the air. The finish used on the inside of the logs, which is normally water based, with zero VOC’s is probably the chief if any concern that one would have.
These days there is a lot of concern with black mold. Like the chemical problem it also stemmed from the homes becoming tighter and tighter in order to save energy. Log homes are much less susceptible to mold. Solid log walls and the ridged EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) continuous blanket insulation in the roof largely reduce the potential areas for mold growth. There are no hidden cavities on the outside walls for mold to grow in like those that exist when using drywall. Same way in the ceiling where solid sheets of EPS are used which, unlike fiberglass does not absorb or hold moisture for mold to grow in. In fact according to tests, mold or fungi can’t grow on EPS. Hands down a solid wood wall such as a log home built with a timber roof using EPS nailbase insulation panels is one of the best homes on the market as a step towards having a home with less potential mold problems.