One of the most common fears for log homeowners is moldy or rotten wood. Both issues are caused by damp, humid environments, and both mold and wood rot can damage the wood of the home. While mold does not necessarily mean the wood has log rot, it does mean conditions are ripe for log rot, and permanent damage to the wood may not be far off. Learn more about the difference between mold and log rot, and how to prevent both on your log home.
The difference between mold and log rot
Both mold and log rot are caused by a fungus, and both are found in damp, humid environments. However, the severity of wood rot is much worse than mold.
Mold is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of fungi that may grow on your log home. Some, like black mold, are more toxic to humans. However, while some types of molds may be less toxic, having mold growing in your home is never good. Mold can still cause health problems, as well as damage the wood in your home. Mold is often slimy, and can appear in a variety of colors, including black, white, green or orange.
Unlike mold, wood rot does not live on the surface of the log, but instead digests the wood it has infected. Wood rot looks more like decay throughout the log, where mold sits atop the log. When looking at potential wood rot, check if the damage goes below the surface of the wood, or if it has made the log soft. Press your finger into the log – if it feels soft or crumbles, the issue is wood rot, not mold.
Both mold and wood rot thrive in damp and humid environments. While mold is less serious than wood rot, the presence of mold can often be a sign that wood rot is soon to follow. If you spot mold in your home, don’t delay in treating both the symptoms and the cause – it may save the logs of your wood home!
Treating log rot
Log rot needs four conditions to thrive – wood, oxygen, warmth and moisture. Fungi may grow on the log of your wood home, but if it does not have all four conditions, log rot will not take place. However, once log rot has started on the wood of your log home, the wood will need to be replaced. Rotted logs cannot be repaired. Once new wood is in place, consult your local wood coating specialists to find the right product to protect the wood in the future. This may include products such as borate and fungicides to protect the wood.
Preventing wood rot
The key to preventing both mold and rot in wood homes is to eliminate excessive moisture. While it is often impossible to completely eliminate moisture in a log home – after all, part of the logs have to make up the exterior – it is possible to minimize the environment in which rot would thrive.
- Remove standing water - This includes any water that may puddle around the base of your home during a rainy season. Additionally, find ways to keep standing water off wood decks, such as adding overhangs or shelters.
- Be mindful with landscaping - In general, plant shrubbery and trees several feet from your log home, so branches and leaves are not resting on the wood, as plants are often a source of water damage to wood.
- Promote good airflow - Inside your home, ensure that rooms that may become damp, like bathrooms, have good airflow. Utilize fans, keeping doors and windows open when necessary.
- Regularly maintain logs - Ensure that you regularly maintain the logs of your wood home, including resanding, staining or treating the wood when necessary to keep logs resistant to water.