Log homes are beautiful and unique structures that come with unusual maintenance challenges. Four generations of the Parker family have enjoyed a log home on the Washington peninsula and we’ve learned that proper maintenance is key. Log homes are often more susceptible to rodents, crawling insects, and wood destroying organisms, especially when they are used as vacation homes instead of a primary residence. Today we’re doing a deep dive on the scariest threat to your log home and your family’s health – rodents.
Looking for rodent activity
With the risk of transmitting Hantavirus, rodents are the most dangerous log home pest you might face. They can enter the home at any time, but the highest risk for activity is when the home has been sitting vacant over the winter. Mice and rats are driven inside by the cold weather and can gather in large numbers if humans aren’t around to kick them out. If you are opening the home for the season follow these steps to inspect for rodents:
- Follow your nose. If you open the home and smell urine, you’ve definitely got a rodent issue. If it seems pee-free then continue down this list and conduct a deeper search.
- Look for droppings in the kitchen and closets. Mice love tight spaces with food and bedding. Check the corners of drawers, the bottom shelf of the cabinets, and anywhere else that is dark and secluded.
- Check for nests. As with droppings, closets are a favorite spot for rodents to gather fluffy material and make nests. Some less obvious nesting locations are inside of furniture such as the underside of a couch, inside of mattresses and pillows, and tucked away in heating ducts.
- Identify rub marks. Mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Sometimes its tough for humans to find these tiny holes. Lucky for us, mice are creatures of habit, meaning they use the same “roads” often. The little highway across your kitchen window sill can get stained with rub marks as the mice shuffle along the wall and around corners. These dark, greasy smudges are a classic sign of an infestation.
Mouse poop and Hantavirus
If you find evidence of rodent activity you should assume that the droppings contain Hantavirus and follow safety precautions. Hantavirus is carried by deer mice and is fatal to 36% of people who catch it. Sadly there is no way to know what type of mice were in your home. Even if you find a house mouse carcass you can’t guarantee there were not also deer mice present.
The key to cleaning up safely is NOT breathing in particles. Spray everything down with a water/bleach mixture since damp particles won’t circulate as freely as dry ones. Wear a mask and gloves. Bag all the rags and throw them out. Do not vacuum or sweep since it stirs up dry particles.
Sealing holes and trapping
The last step is preventing mice from entering your home moving forward. We recommend our free eBook, The Complete Guide: How to Get Rid of Mice Naturally. It’s packed with tips for sealing holes, everything you need to know about traps, and lots of photos for the DIYer in all of us.
One aspect of mouse control that is specific to log homes and not covered in the eBook is chinking. Gaps in chinking are an extremely common method of entry for mice. Be sure to visually inspect your chinking from the interior and exterior, preferably on a ladder. Given the rounded shape of a log it can be difficult to see gaps from the ground.
Wondering how mice fit through the chinking? Check out this experiment:
The two best things you can do to prevent rats and mice are 1) Keeping up with all recommended maintenance and 2)Living on the property year round.
Log home maintenance can be a DIY affair for the brave at heart but some jobs require an expert. The Parkers use Madrona Log Homes for log home maintenance because they’re dependable, local, and use eco-friendly materials. Who knew walnut blasting was so cool to watch? Tell the owner Travis that we sent you!
The second recommendation is often impractical for home owners. But if someone is living in the home it’s very easy to spot problems and head them off early. You’re unlikely to develop a large deer mouse infestation if there is constant human oversight.
Feel free to call or email us if you have additional questions about keeping your log home pest-free.