Sewer cleanouts are a crucial part of your home’s plumbing system, as they allow for access to your drains and sewer lines without having to dig up your yard or tear out walls. Depending on your home’s age, you may have as few as one or as many as ten access points for sewer line cleaning.
What is a Sewer Cleanout?
When drain or sewer line clogs occur, the sewer cleanout outs allow access to those pipes for…you guessed it…cleaning them out. Using mechanical and motorized drain snakes, your plumbing technician can reach further into your hidden drain lines to pull out stubborn clogs. Sewer line blockages can be accessed with high-definition video cameras to pinpoint their locations and equipment to perform snaking or hydro-jetting.
How Do I Locate My Sewer Cleanout?
Your sewer cleanouts appear on your home’s sides, usually adjacent to kitchen and bathroom drain lines. These cleanouts are easy to spot on a pier and beam home, as they are located just under the exterior floorboards, with a capped, white plastic pipe extending out from the house. In homes with a slab foundation, the cleanouts appear as small openings next to your home, usually with a plastic cap, resembling small manhole covers.
In older homes that have not had their galvanized drain and sewer lines replaced with PVC, finding the sewer cleanout can be challenging. The only point of access to the sewer line is often located on the roof, where the sewer line is vented for sewer gases to escape. For the luckier amongst the owners of older homes, the sewer cleanout will appear as a pipe extending 6″ – 8″ out of the ground, often with a steel cap on top that gives it a “mushroom”-like appearance.
Why Do I Need to Keep My Cleanouts Clean?
Keeping your drain and sewer lines clean allows drains to empty freely, toilets to flush thoroughly, and keep sewer gases from escaping into your home. The unpleasantness of sewer gases is apparent to anyone with a nose, but the ammonia, methane, and sulfur dioxide they produce can harm your health.
Sewer gas is toxic, and in high enough concentrations, can render a person unconscious in seconds. Common symptoms of sewer gas exposure include difficulty breathing, eye irritation, headaches, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, and dizziness.
How Do I Open a Sewer Cleanout?
While locating your sewer cleanouts is a pretty easy task, getting them open can be tricky. For PVC (white plastic) cleanouts, a threaded plastic cap is installed with a molded nut at the center. Using a pipe wrench or a pair of slip-joint pliers, grab the center nut and slowly start to turn it counter-clockwise, or “lefty-loosey,” and remove the cap. If the cap resists being removed, try WD-40 or another spray lubricant, and wait a few minutes before trying again.
Snaking your cleanouts is a project that can be tackled by a handy homeowner, but if pulling raw sewage out of a pipe is not your idea of a fun afternoon, call in a professional, like Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning.
Do I Need to Have a Sewer Line Cleanout Installed?
For homes built before the 1970s, which includes a large part of Houston, the only access to your sewer cleanout may be on the roof via your sewer pipe vent. In a single-family home with a small yard, plumbing snakes and video cameras are probably long enough to reach a blockage that is up to 150 feet away. For two- and three-story homes with large front yards, there may not be a snake long enough to reach the city sewer connection, the goal of every sewer line plumber worth his plunger.
Installing a more easily accessible sewer line cleanout in an existing plumbing system, regardless of PVC or galvanized installations. Depending on the job’s difficulty, cleanout installation will cost the average homeowner between $650 – $2,000, with the highest cost reserved for those that require extensive digging and retrofitting.
If you’re considering a sewer line cleanout installation in your home, give the experts at Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning Services a call. We employ only licensed, experienced, and thoroughly background checked plumbing technicians to come to your home.
We’re happy to provide a free estimate or free second opinion on any future sewer line work you need.
Call us today. We’re on the Way.