Yes! Clear packing tape (or any other kind of mylar tape) is also a common form of a bond breaker. If you are already at the desired depth, just place a piece of tape over the back of the joint and apply your caulking or chinking. You can also use duct tape or polyethylene tape (like Poly Masking Tape).
It is good practice to seal with caulking or chinking (and backer rod) checks and cracks that are 1/4" wide or wider, especially on the upper curvature of logs. Prior to sealing them, make sure to apply a good wood preservative (like Penetreat) to prevent insect and fungal damage. The very small micro-checks that are barely visible can usually be sealed adequately with whatever stain is applied to the surface of the logs. The most problematic checks are the "in-betweeners"
This can sometimes be difficult because where the water comes through on the interior does not always correspond very well to where it enters the wall on the exterior.
It's best practice to seal up all visible openings with chinking and caulking, making sure the wood is dry first. If this doesn't stop the rain from making its way inside, then you might consider having a thermographic analysis of your home performed. This analysis would help you pinpoint the exact entry points so you can get them properly sealed up.
Contact Customer Service at 1-800-767-5656 for more information about this type of service and for the names of contractors who do this type of analysis.
Repairing torn chinking or caulking is really rather easy. First, use a razor knife to slit the chink or caulk line a bit further to release pressure on the bead. Then, clean the surface by wiping it down. Gun new chinking or caulking over the torn area (as long as you're using more of the same Sashco product),then smooth (tool) the new product, feathering it out onto the exisitng bead. If no backer rod was applied, you may need to cut out the torn area, install backer rod, and then follow the remaining steps as noted above.
The word "check" is another way of describing the cracks that develop in individual logs. Most checks develop within the first one to two years after construction of the home, caused by the home drying out.
Checks generally form along the grain of the log and can range in size - they can be tiny hair-line cracks up to 2" or wider. Sometimes, but not often, they can appear in a spiral fashion, swirling around the log. Checks should be caulked if they are over 1/4" wide and if they are either on the upward curvature of the logs or if they spiral into the home.
In order to fill the checks, make sure that they are clean and free of any unsound wood fibers. The easiest way to ensure this is to sand the inside of the check, then wipe it down with a damp cloth. It is critical to determine that the moisture content of the wood is below 19% in order to minimize further log movement and reduce the occurrence of blistering in the caulk. Insert backer rod or some form of bond breaker to the proper depth (between 1/4" and 1/2") and then apply a bead of caulking into the check. Finally, tool the caulking smooth so it is flush with the log.
Read the info sheet for the product you're using before doing any caulking to ensure you're applying it properly.
The best type of bond breaker depends on the type of logs used on the home. Grip Strip is generally used on flat Appalachian style logs that are fairly dry wood. These are not as likely to undergo as much shrinkage due to the fact that they are milled and often kiln-dried before construction.
Round backer rod can be used in almost every other joint style. The round nature of the backer rod allows the caulking / chinking to adhere well to the wood, while the slightly thinner layer in the center creates the ideal hourglass shape, which allows the material to be a bit more flexible. This also makes it so that any failure due to extreme movement will generally split down the middle of the bead line, which is easier to fix.
Checks allow moisture and wood-destroying fungi to find their way deep into the interior of wood. When fungi have a food source (the wood), moisture, oxygen and the right temperature, they can lead to rot, which, in some cases, can negatively affect the structural integrity of the home. And it can be very costly to fix rot. Filling in those checks and cracks will save you money and stress down the line.
It's necessary in order to provide the proper joint design - caulking or chinking adhering to only the sides of the joint, not the back where the backer rod is placed. This allows the product to stretch correctly.
Backer rod also greatly helps control the depth of the sealant as it is being installed to insure that the optimum amount of material is put into place. If too little material is installed, premature "cohesive failure" can occur. If too much is installed, the sealant is wasted and your costs are greatly increased.