Why Do Lumber Yards Spray Water on Logs?

Why do lumber yards spray water on logs? If you have ever driven by a lumber yard and see the logs getting wet you may wonder why they are doing that. A lot of lumber yards spray water on their logs using a sprinkler system. This helps logs to preserve moisture content above the fiber saturation point.

When you store logs in wet conditions it helps to avoid end checking which can result when sudden moisture content reduction from the cross section happens. There are two more options to shield the raw material in the log decks. First, keep the logs in water and second, spray them with chemicals like insecticides or fungicides.

There are three more reasons why lumber yards spray water on logs.

  • First up, it reduces the risk of blue stain which discolors the wood. This is done by filling the wood’s pores with water to make it unsuitable for fungi and insects and to reserve the wood.
  • Second reason is to stop the logs from cracking or splitting. When the lumber gets dry, it can begin to crack and ruin the wood, spraying with water prevents this from happening.
  • Lastly, it maintains the quality of the wood by keeping a constant humidity. When you spray with water the humidity remains constant throughout, without doing this the finished lumber would likely bend and be hard to work with.

Actually, here is another reason; when the cost of timber is low, spraying of water increases the length of time the wood can be stored, so it can be kept and sold in the future when prices go up.

Log yards are where raw materials are kept before debarking and primary breakdown. When logs are stored, they go through biological corrosion due to the attack of fungus and insects.

Growth of fungi can take place when the content of moisture gets above the fiber saturation point of 28 to 30 percent and when the temperature is between 60°F to 85°F.

Generally speaking, staining fungi does not have a substantial effect on the properties of wood mechanically other than discoloration, which is typically thought of as being defective. Shorten the storage time so the logs do not deteriorate before converting it to lumber.

Why do lumber yards store logs in water?

When logs are stored in a log pond (they may no longer exists) or stored under sprinklers it will help stop end checking and slow down deterioration due to stain, insects, decay and fungi. With that being said, chemical staining can happen with wet conditions. Softwood logs stored in a log yard are naturally protected by water sprinkling when the weather is warm therby minimizing fire risks.

Why do sawmills use water?

Many years ago, sawmills used steam power. So, it had to be a renewable and dependable water source. They also increased value by using water as a tool to transport logs and then stored them in lakes or rivers to stop stored wood from getting dried out. Steam power is no longer an option, but the land is in great demand.

Why do they wet lumber?

Why do they wet down logs? While keeping the humidity high it discourages some fungi that stain. That is one reason why submerging is also popular.

Why are swamp logs so valuable?

Trees become waterlogged when they slip out of a logger’s hand or by growing in a valley formally inhibited for reservoir construction. There are not many of these old trees left that are accessible legally for harvest. This makes sinker logs that much more wanted.

How to stop log checking?

If you coat the end grain of the boards or logs that are exposed with a thick layer of commercial sealer, varnish, or paint, it will stop moisture from getting out too fast. Wood can lose moisture 10 to 15 times faster out of the ends than it would through the faces.

How to get moisture out of wood?

By placing a dehumidifier in the middle of the room after all the standing water is gone, then set it at the highest removal setting that is possible. Let it run for a minimum of 24 hours to extract the moisture from the boards. Put fans to blow across the surface to help dry the wood out even more.

Does submerged wood rot?

Wood that is waterlogged does not allow oxygen in, therefore it does not encourage the growth of fungi. If wood becomes too wet it will not decay or if becomes too dry it will not decay. Pilings that are completely submerges may never rot.

What is the best way to store softwood logs?

When you store softwood logs in a log pond or under sprinklers it helps to slow down deterioration caused by decay, fungal stain, and insects as well as preventing end checking. However, even under wet conditions, chemical staining can take place.

Is it practical to store logs for long periods of time?

Stored logs do not typically keep well, so this is not a good idea. The shortest life of a log would be pine, typically 1 to 2 weeks in warmer weather. Red oak may do a bit better at around four weeks of warm weather, although the sapwood may be gray.

How are logs transported and stored in water?

Logs are usually transported using the log driving process. They float in loose aggregations in water using the flushed or natural flow of the stream as the power. In the beginning, all wood that was easily within the stream was cut then floated down the adjacent river.