Log home settling is going to occur. I have discovered that all homes have some settling. Logs, like humans, suffer the exact effects of time. They compress. Many factors can contribute to settling aside from compression. There could be other reasons your house is settling. In this article, we will define and discuss:
- Understanding Log Home Settling
- Log Shrinkage and Compression
- Signs of Settling
- Slip Joints and/or Screw Jacks
- When to Seek a Professional
Understanding Log Home Settling
To be clear, log home settling is used to describe the loss in log wall height over the life of your log cabin. Poor log home construction can lead to all kinds of settling hazards. Even with good construction, your walls may lose a quarter of an inch or more in the first few years.
Green Logs Shrink/Compress
In addition, settling is most prone as logs dry out. Even more so if your logs were green when built. Just to be clear, green and dry logs shrink. As you will learn, you should consider all contributing factors when diagnosing settling.
For example, underlying ground problems like sinkholes or a bad foundation can cause even good, constructed log homes to settle badly. Log homeowners should concern themselves with these contributors when assessing their log home sinking. If this is why your log home is settling, it will continue to damage it and waste your hard-earned money until you address the reasons. Settling that goes unchecked or unfixed can cause expensive and sometimes hazardous consequences.
Log Shrinkage and Compression
Shrinkage occurs as the moisture level of the log dries to a condition known as Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC). EMC depends on the material and the relative humidity and temperature of the air it is in contact with. Throughout drying out, the log diameters will get smaller. You can expect significant settling if you build with green logs. Green logs have a high humidity content and are known to warp and twist as they dry out. It would be best if you did not make it with green logs due to those risks.
The structure’s weight causes compression as it compresses the wood fibers in the logs, which you probably will not notice immediately. In short, you can conclude that compression causes much less settling than shrinkage. Like human bones, compression gradually occurs over a more extended period.
However, if you suspect settling, do you know what signs to look for? 📋
Signs of Settling
Signs of settling can be worrisome for new log home owners. You can look for signs of settling, often seen in small cracks in trim around windows, doors, foundations, or in warped floors and roof lines. Most of us have walked over an upstairs warped floorboard. This could be poor flooring installation or a sign the home is settling unevenly.
The most common cause of settling is foundation issues. However, one should consider a few other contributing factors when discovering signs of settling. To learn what other factors can contribute to settling, visit our article “Contributing Factors of Log Home Settling.” 📋
Slip Joints and/or Screw Jacks
Most well-built log homes include Slip Joints and Screw Jacks. Log homes not built with these can make solving issues difficult but possible. Costly but possible. We highly recommend that log homeowners speak with the original builder regarding adjustments. If not the builder, talk to a foundation professional. They should know how to help you or someone who can.
Log Home Builders
Log home builders, like Cowboy Log Homes, install slip joints or screw jacks to keep the log home’s frames straight as the home settles to avoid future settling problems. Slip joints allow sliding as the logs settle without compromising the structural integrity. 📋
A conscience log home manufacturer or log cabin builder will often incorporate screw jacks to compensate for future settling. These screw jacks are installed to support the main floor to support decks, columns, and roofs. The second and third floors can benefit from these supports to cause minimal settling to the main floor or interior walls. You will often find screw jacks hidden behind the upper and lower trim. In the first two heating seasons, you may need the screw jacks should be adjusted by a professional. The time frame for adjusting screw jacks can vary by the type of heat used in your home and the outside climate. 📋
When to Seek a Professional
If any of the signs mentioned are present in your home, it would be wise to contact a professional log home inspector or log master for advice. Ask if they are certified log home inspectors. Log home inspectors must undergo additional training to receive a certification for log home inspection.
Most home inspectors will advise you to seek a professional log home builder or certified log home inspector. I hope this article has been helpful and that if you have any questions, please call or text us at 844-567-2329, OR you can just email us at [email protected]. If you would like a free estimate, go to our checklist, and we will gladly give you an estimated cost for restoration or maintenance. 📋