Septic Systems Simplified

Septic Systems Simplified

I’d like to address a topic that may not be very glamorous. But it’s one that’s important to know about when you’re buying a home or cabin in NW Wisconsin.

If you’re living in town, then you probably have city water and sewer. All you need to worry about now is paying a small bill every month. But once you move to the country, you’re on your own. Don’t worry though. Most of the time these systems work just fine.

septic-system

Still, before you buy a home or cabin, it’s important to know about its septic system. Repairs and upgrades can be expensive. Here’s a quick overview; to really understand septic systems thoroughly, you may wan to do an online search on some of these terms and read further.

The first question you should ask is what type of system a particular home or cabin has. There are three main types: conventional, mound, and holding. You may also hear about something called a “separate gray water system.” One other term I’ll explain briefly is “perc test.” You’ll want to know what it is and why it’s important.

A conventional septic system runs waste water and solids into a large concrete septic tank where bacteria digest the solids. Liquids run out the other end into a drain field that’s made of perforated pipe buried in a gravel-filled trench. Solds that don’t digest settle out into a sludge at the bottom of the septic tank. Every two or three years, you’ll need to have this sludge pumped out. It’s not expensive, and it’s no big deal. It’s just part of owning a home or cabin that’s outside the city limits.

A mound system is similar, except that the drain field is above ground level inside a large mound of gravel and dirt. It’s used in certain special conditions – most often when the soil isn’t permeable enough, there isn’t enough soil before you reach bedrock, or the water table is too close to the surface. Although the mound can be landscaped in a way that makes it less noticeable, it’s still going to be there. Another negative is that mound systems often require a pumping system in between the septic tank and the drain field. Otherwise, these systems work just like a conventional septic system.

A holding tank is just what it sounds like – a hold tank that needs to be pumped out a soon as it’s full. I see them most often at older lakeshore cabins. They’re usually only used for sites that are unsuitable for either a conventional or a mound system. Sometimes, however, they were installed because they were a less expensive alternative.

As you’d expect, a larger tank is better. But it still needs to be pumped out eventually. And when it is, a large tank will cost more to empty.

You may be able to upgrade a holding tank to conventional or mound system. But even if you can, it will be a fairly expensive undertaking. Meanwhile, pumping out the holding tank will be a regular expense. If the system serves a small cabin that’s only used on a dozen weekends every year, that’s less of an issue. But if that cabin becomes a full-time, year-round home for a family of six, then you’re going to have a monthly pumping bill.

To help with that problem, some homes and cabins have a separate “gray water system.” (You’ll also see them used on conjunction with conventional and mound systems.) Gray water, as opposed to “black water,” is all the waste water that hasn’t come from a toilet. Depending on local codes and regulations, your gray water can sometimes be released with little or no processing; you could even use it to water your lawn or garden. Just be careful about what soaps you use, and avoid pouring too many household chemicals down the drain (probably a good idea anyway).

Finally, here’s one more term you should know about. If you’re building a new home or cabin, you may hear about something called a “perch test.” That’s short of “percolation test,” and it’s a measure of how permeable your soil is. If your building site is on clay soil that’s relatively impermeable, it could mean you’ll need a mound system or holding tank. It it’s on relatively sandy soil, you can relax. You’ll probably pass your perch test with flying colors.

This was an important topic, but maybe not a very fun one. If you read all the way to here, then perhaps you are ready to start shopping for your country or lake home or cabin – www.JeanHedren.com

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About Jean Hedren Realtor. Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, specializes in lake homes, cabins, and waterfront real estate in NW Wisconsin. View all posts by Jean.

NW Wisconsin North Country Hiking Trail: Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Highway 53 Trailhead

We are so fortunate to have The North Country Hiking Trail right in our back yard (well almost). The North Country Trail stretches from New York to North Dakota with hundreds of miles crossing Northern Wisconsin.

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Highway 53 Trailhead, Douglas County, WI

North Country Trail - Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53 trailhead

North Country Trail – Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53 trailhead

This 3.3 mile segment of the North Country Scenic Trail is right here in the Gordon-Solon Springs area. Because it traverses relatively open terrain, this segment is a good place to enjoy the vista. Near the north end of the route, there’s also a nice walk-in campsite overlooking Leo Creek.

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Finally, here’s a road map to help you find the trailhead:

Road Map

Road Map

Search homes and cabins for sale in Eau Claire Chain of Lakes, Barnes, WI.

Homes and cabins for sale in Eau Claire Chain of Lakes, Barnes, WI.

You’ll find a variety of lake, town, and country homes available in Barnes and Gordon Wisconsin in all price ranges.

Start your search here: Homes for sale in Eau Claire Chain of Lakes, Barnes, Wisconsin

More about the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes.

Another Great Vatten Paddlar Race on Eau Claire Lakes in Barnes and Gordon, WI

I’m proud to have been a sponsor of this year’s Vatten Paddlar canoe and kayak race, which was held July 6 on the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes in Barnes and Gordon, Wisconsin.  I was glad for the opportunity to support our local community, and also to spread the word about the natural beauty of the lakes and rivers in this part of northwest Wisconsin.

Many of the elite racers turned in incredibly fast times.  Even more important, pretty much everyone there had an incredibly fun time.  Here are a few scenes from the race.  For more images and full race results, visit www.vattenpaddlar.com.

Many thanks to David Delforge for running a great event.

NW Wisconsin spring is still doing great work

Pricing your home to get the highest offer

The best way to get the most money for your home is to price it right at the start. Today’s buyers are discerning. They have the information at their fingertips to pay what they believe your home is worth. Ultimately, a home’s value is what a buyer is willing to pay rather then what the selling thinks their home is worth.

Here are 10 benefits to right pricing:

  1.  Each new listing creates a buzz in the local real estate community. The right price will generate more calls and inquiries, and attract more Realtors to show the house.
  2. The right price will send the message to buyers that the price is based on actual value rather than sentimental value.
  3. Homes tend to sell closer to the asking price during the first few weeks on the market, resulting in a higher price in a shorter time.
  4. Fewer mortgage payments and less interest paid means more money in your pocket.
  5. The right price sends the message to the buyer that your home is a better value compared to others on the market.
  6. Less time on the market means less time keeping the home ready for showings.
  7. In a fluctuating market, it is better to sell now as prices may decrease even more.
  8. The longer the house sits on the market, buyers may think there is something wrong with the house.
  9. Keep your ultimate goal in mind – selling now means moving on with your life.
  10. There is never a second chance to make a good first impression.
Selling a home in NW Wisconsin? Send me an email or give me a call at 218-590-6634. I’ll be happy to provide a current price analysis to give you an idea of what your home will sell for in the current market.
 

What the heck’s a “flowage,” and why is it called that??

Minong Flowage

All over northern Wisconsin, the term flowage has worked its way into dozens of lake names. Here in northwestern Wisconsin, we have the Minong Flowage, Gordon Flowage, Chippewa Flowage, and Tigercat Flowage—and that’s just for starters. And despite the number of flowages in northern Wisconsin, people who live on any one of them can often be heard calling their home lake simply “The Flowage.”

So what exactly is a flowage, and how did they come to be called that?

A flowage is simply a lake that’s formed upstream of a dam; it’s a regionalism that’s rarely heard outside of Wisconsin. In other parts of the country, especially in the South and the West, a flowage might be called a reservoir. A flowage, like a reservoir, can be any shape and size. Some, like the Minong Flowage and Gordon Flowage, were formed when dams flooded large, sprawling areas. Others, like the Colton Flowage in Washburn County, are smaller and have a simpler shoreline that resulted from the flooding of a long, narrow valley.

Nor is the term’s use universal; even around here, plenty of lakes upstream of dams are simply called “lakes.” Examples include Trego Lake, Hayward Lake, Nelson Lake, Moose Lake, and Lake Namekagon. And then there’s the Eau Claire Chain of Lakes that includes Lower Eau Claire Lake, Middle Eau Claire Lake, and Upper Eau Claire Lake. Each lies above a small dam. Although smaller lakes might have been there from the beginning, it’s the dams that give these lakes their present size and shape.

But why “flowage,” especially when it describes the one part of a river that’s no longer flowing? Webster’s defines flowage as a) an overflowing onto adjacent land, b) a body of water formed by overflowing or damming, c) floodwater especially of a stream. That first definition is key; it’s related to a whole body of real estate law surrounding the concept of “flowage easements,” which grant someone the right to flood land.

Flowage easements are most often granted to the state and federal government, but in the past they were often granted to utilities that built dams for generating electricity. Here in northern Wisconsin, flowage easements were also granted to logging companies so they could build dams for regulating water flow during the spring logging drives. They built dams, the water upstream of the dams rose, and then the water flowed onto the adjacent land. And that’s how we got the term “flowage.”

To learn more about any of the lakes and flowages mentioned in this post, go to the menu above and click on NW WI Lakes & Rivers. And for all your northwest Wisconsin real estate needs, whether you’re buying or selling, call Jean Hedren at (218) 590-6634. www.JeanHedren.com

Gordon Dam
Gordon Dam