Everything You Need to Know About Drain Cleanouts

Drains can be blocked by many things. Tree roots, feminine hygiene products, and toys can all cause a blockage and cause a backup. If your drain cleaning equipment is in place, it will be easier to clear the drain.

Everything You Need to Know About Drain Cleanouts Smiley Drain Cleaning

What exactly is a drain cleanout?

The drain cleanout allows you to access your main sewer line. It is located outside your home, in your front or back yard. Most cleanouts go unnoticed until there’s a problem. They look like capped pipes sticking up a few inches above the ground.

A plumber can use a plumbing pipe inspection camera to see the problem if there is a blocked drain in your home. If they are having trouble clearing the blockage, or if you have frequent problems with your main sewer drain, this may be necessary.

Once the plumber has identified the type of clog and its location, he can select the appropriate size blade to cut through it. After the work is completed, he will again run the camera through your drain line to ensure that the clog has been completely removed.

What if I don’t have a drain cleanout?

Drain cleanouts are not necessary to remove backups. However, it is sometimes more difficult. In this case, the plumber has two options: either access the sewer line from the roof or from the toilet. Unfortunately, neither of these options is as efficient as going through a cleanout.

Everything You Need to Know About Drain Cleanouts Smiley Drain Cleaning
Locate the Cleanout on the Roof

Option 1: Get rid of the Clog from Your Roof

Although the sewer line can be accessed via the roof, it is not possible to access the main sewer line through the pipe. The backup can’t be removed and the main sewer line cannot be reached by the camera or drain equipment. It is also more dangerous. It can also pose a danger to plumbers, especially during winter and bad weather. Sometimes it’s too dangerous for plumbers to climb on the roof.

Everything You Need to Know About Drain Cleanouts Smiley Drain Cleaning
How to Remove the Toilet

Option 2: Remove the toilet

You may have to remove the toilet if you don’t have any cleanouts. This increases labor costs and the possibility of causing damage to the toilet. The plumber can then remove the clog using a drain machine. The pipes underneath the toilet may be smaller so the clog might not be as easily removed.

These are less effective in clearing clogs. Because you don’t know the cause of the clog, you may have ongoing problems or backups. Are roots growing from your tree or were small toys being flushed? Plumbers are often unable to warranty their work if the drain problem is not fixed by cleanouts.

What You Need to Lookout For

The things that drain from your drain or sewer line are generally pretty disgusting. It depends on the location of your clog, but whatever comes out of your drain, it will be exactly what your wastewater does when you take off the cleanout cover. Sometimes, it might even do it with quite a bit of force.

Avoid contaminating yourself by stepping away as soon as possible from the cleanout cap. When working with drain lines, it’s a good idea to have a bucket on hand.

To catch any excess water, place a bin or bucket underneath the cleanout if it is located on the sides of the pipe. This should be done even if you are doing an outdoor cleanout. If you don’t want any sewer water in your basement or on the ground, it is important to not allow this to happen. If you are cleaning indoors, and need to clean the surroundings after clearing out your clogs, warm water, and a mild detergent will do the trick. Add 8 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon of water, and then wipe the area clean. Let the area air dry.

What happens if there is no sewer cleanout?

Older homes might not have a clean-out sewer. This is particularly true if one isn’t required by state or local plumbing codes. It is usually a good idea to have one installed in such situations.

Sometimes, your home may have a cleanout that has become covered in dirt. If you suspect your home may have one but are unable to find it, you might try digging around the area where the cleanout should be. You can also hire a plumber to run an inspection of the line. This will allow you to see the cleanout from the inside and determine where to dig.

Find the Best Sewer Cleanout Solution

Each home is different and there are many factors that go into deciding whether to install a sewer cleanout. Smiley Drain’s licensed plumbers will assess your plumbing needs to help you decide if this is the right option for you. Cleanouts are an excellent option for the following reasons.

Prevents frequent drain problems

Clogs should be prevented, not repaired once you have a blockage. A drain cleanout will reveal the exact cause of the problem and make recommendations to avoid it in the future. You can catch other issues early on before they become serious.

Install the Right Cleanout

You may need a cleanout if your drain continues to cause you problems. These are often available in newer homes, but they are rare in older homes. Repairs are much simpler when drain-specific cleanouts are used. Buyers may increase the home’s resale value by requesting a drain inspection.

Because it’s so easy to send a camera down the line, cleanouts make home inspections much easier. This gives potential buyers peace of mind about the plumbing condition. It will also help to lower future costs for drain repairs.

Benefits of a Sewer Cleanout

Although a cleanout of the sewer is required in certain states, it might not be mandatory in others. There are many benefits to having a clean-out done on your property. Here are just a few:

Low Maintenance Costs

This clean-out allows for direct access to the sewer lateral of your property. A plumbing professional can inspect each tap individually and ensure that there aren’t any blockages.

Repairs are Cheaper & Faster

A plumber would normally have to take down your toilet or climb onto your roof to clean your sewer lines. A sewer clean-out will allow them easy access to your sewer lateral. You will save time and money, which means a lower bill.

Install a Sewer Cleanout

It is easier to clean out clogged drains. This makes it easier to find problems in the drain line from your home to your sewer or septic tank. It will help you identify the problem and suggest ways to prevent it from happening again. Smiley Drain Cleaning is available to answer any questions you may have.

Sewer and Drain Cleanout FAQs

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When should I use cleanout?

Cleanouts are required for horizontal drainage piping. For long runs of piping, a cleanout is required every 100 feet. This measurement is taken from the highest end of the horizontal drainage piping to the point of connection with the building sewer.

What does cleanout look like?

A sewer cleanout is generally, but not always located outside a bathroom. You’ll recognize it as a black or white, three- to four-inch capped pipe. Since cleanouts aren’t needed often, yours may be covered by bushes, underbrush, or grass.

Why do you need a cleanout?

A cleanout allows a plumber to quickly and easily access the line and fix the issue without dragging dirty plumbing equipment through your home. No matter how much a sewer machine is cleaned, it has still been through multiple sewer lines, and if you can avoid that machine in your home, it is best.

Should I see water in the sewer cleanout?

If you see any sewage or water around the outside of that cap, you definitely have a blocked sewage drain. If you pull off the cap and see standing water inside the sewer cleanout, that’s also indicative of a blocked sewer drain.

Steps For How to Clear A Main Sewer Line Clog:
1. Loosen the Drain Pipe Cap (Cleanout Pipe) The first step is to find your main drain cleanout location.

2. Remove Cap, Allow Build-Up to Drain. Once you remove the cleanout cap, step away quickly.

3. Insert the Snake into Pipe.

4. Run the Tool Until Clog Is Gone.


Where is my main drain cleanout?

The cleanout is usually a 4-inch-diameter pipe with a screw cap that has a square knob or indentation on the top. It’s most likely going to be popping up from the ground outside your home between the foundation and the street. The cleanout might also be on the side of the home, closest to the bathroom.

Can you drain into a cleanout?

You may tie into the drain line through that cleanout providing you still retain a cleanout of the same size. Begin by removing the cap and thoroughly cleaning the female threads of the existing cleanout with a wire brush.

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