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Creosote Log Homes

Al_Spadin's picture

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I'm looking at a log home that was built 32 years ago using creosote logs. I plan to seal the inside frame and drywall over all interior surfaces. My questions is are the logs still outgassing? Is is safe to live there? The building was a ski lodge, so it wasn't a permanent residence.

(post #171274, reply #2 of 9)

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And by the way ... it should last a damn long time.

(post #171274, reply #3 of 9)

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You might want to check..on the possiblity of resale problems...due to the presence of creosote....

DN

(post #171274, reply #5 of 9)

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I'm looking at a log home that was built 32 years ago using creosote logs. I plan to seal the inside frame and drywall over all interior surfaces. My questions is are the logs still outgassing? Is is safe to live there? The building was a ski lodge, so it wasn't a permanent residence.

(post #171274, reply #1 of 9)

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Al: Wow, what a post. I'll wade into it with following caveats: While I've worked 10 years as an environmental engineer and studied chemical engineering, I haven't looked at creosote from this prespective and am typing what occurs to me on first blush.

Creosote is not very volatile at all. The only instrument that could detect the extremely low concentrations in air (< 1 part per billion, I'd estimate) is a nose (yours or your dog's). But if you can smell something, then it's offgassing a little, although far, far less than 32 years ago. Creosote has some nasty compounds in it, but the pathways to you are limited. Very low solubility in water and very, very low volatility add up to low risk due to breathing or drinking. Contact with the exposed exterior (?) and then eating/smoking/making love without thorough cleaning is a potential pathway. Like most potential carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens, I'd be most concerned if there is 1) a conceiving woman, 2) a pregnent woman, 3) a nursing child, and 4) a small, fingers-in-mouth-aged child around, in that order.

Putting a vapor barrier behind the drywall (not a permable membrane like Tyvek but an impermable membrane - check a book on building in northern climates for specs) and taped and painted drywall will do a lot to isolate you from the creosote. Again, consider the outside surface. Like with lead paint and asbestos, the big exposure is not going to be to the final occupants, but to the workers work cut, sand, and handle the logs. Barrier gloves, respirators, and good engineered controls (fans, curtains, ventilation) will reduce their risk a lot.

Would I live there? Sure, it's probably got a great location and spectacular view. Would I do the carpentry on it? With the controls described above, a knowledgable foreman, and a reasonable client? With a little reluctance, yes. Good luck with it. -David

(post #171274, reply #4 of 9)

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For what it is worth:

David is right on I think.

Check with your insurance company. They might have a problem with the the logs and may jack up the insurance premium or refuse you all together.

Do you want your family living in a wood structure that is coated with something that increases the toxicity of the smoke in event of fire?

The problem imho is the (post #171274, reply #6 of 9)

The problem imho is the sealant used.  I had a similar situation with a home I purchased a few years ago.  The entire foundation was creosote lumber and I tried a variety of paints, primers, Kills, aluminum paint and shelac.  Each thing I tried would work for a month or so and then peel from the creosote pressure against the paint.

I finally found a solution, but it wasnt cheap.  It was at Creosote Odore Removal dot com.  They sprayed two coats of their product and the smell disappeared.  It's been probably 2 years since application and I have a 5 year warranty.  Like I said, it was kind of expensive, but cheaper than the total of all the other 'attempts' by painters and handymen that I tried before.

How long have you done PR (post #171274, reply #7 of 9)

How long have you done PR work for  Creosote Odore Removal dot com? 

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 40 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

At least 1 day and 4 hours. (post #171274, reply #8 of 9)

At least 1 day and 4 hours.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

creosote log home (post #171274, reply #9 of 9)

We also have a home that was built 40 years ago using creosote logs (telephone poles). Have you found any way to paint the logs with anything to prevent offgassing (varnish?)? What did you find about offgassing? We can smell the creosote in the summer. The only advice we found so far is to abandon the house.