LOG WALL CHARACTERISTICSWritten by Mercedes Hayes
Looking at all beautiful full-color glossy photos of log home in magazines gives us an idealized vision of perfect wooden house. Like a supermodel, we can't imagine wrinkles and imperfections, but like any natural product, log walls are full of traits that are an integral part of their character.
CHECKING: The new visitor to any log home is invariably struck by cracks in logs, sometimes stretching for several feet. Initially they might look alarming, but these cracks, or checks, are a natural process that occurs over first few years when logs are still drying and reaching equilibrium with environment. In no way do they weaken integrity of your log wall.
When trees are cut down, there is naturally still some moisture left in cells, especially when tree is cut down live. These logs are called "green" and will settle many inches if used right away to build a house. Some manufacturers let their logs dry naturally – air dried – while others put logs in a kiln and bake them for 30-45 days, which removes 80-85% of moisture. However, they can't go any farther without doing damage to wood, so logs dry naturally for next few years, and this process can create checks in wood to relieve pressure. However, heartwood closest to center of tree is so hard that checks will not go beyond center of log. As a result, you will not see checks go all way through.
SETTLING: As you may already suspect, there is a relationship between moisture content and settling of your log walls. No, settling does not have to be a "dirty word". As long as your builder knows how to deal with settling and make provisions for windows, doors, plumbing, and interior walls, your house can settle many inches and still age comfortably. Any log home will come with about a 2" gap above all doors and windows, which will need to be filled with insulation. The builder will cut a vertical groove in frame and affix nails to windows and doors that will slide down groove as building settles, so nothing gets crushed. Most kiln-dried homes will only settle a couple of inches overall, and much of that will occur during construction phase.
KNOTS: Depending on species of wood used in your log home, some logs have more knots than others, just as some trees have more limbs than others. The more interesting knot, more likely your builder will place it at eye level, since each knot is truly unique. However, don't be surprised if knots ooze sap on sunny exterior walls of your house. Even sealant won't stop sap from working its way out. This will not happen on inside of house, or on shady side. It only happens when sun is beating down on logs and heating them up in summer time.
How to control Ants Without PoisonWritten by Marilyn Pokorney
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Ants are pests in house. In home common ants aren't harmful but they are a nuisance.
There are many natural repellants which can be used to discourage ants from kitchen counters, pantries, and other areas where food lures them in.
As a first step try to prevent ants from entering house.
Use less chemical fertilizers and pesticides in lawn and gardens. These cause an imbalance in biological makeup of soil. Stressed soil and plants attract ants.
Many species of ants like to drink honeydew from aphids. If good control of aphids in plants and gardens near houses is exercised, ants will be less numerous. Ants seem to dislike spearmint, tansy, and pennyroyal. Plant these near house to keep ants away. Sweet fern is particularly dislike by red ants.
A simple recipe to repel ants can be made by adding to an eight ounce bottle of mild liquid soap one ounce each of citronella, pennyroyal, peppermint, cinnamon, rose and tea oil. Mix together and add three tablespoons to two cups of water. Spray where ants are entering house. This formula can be used to wash down counters in kitchen but only use one-half tablespoon to two cups of water.