What Is A Clean Out Valve On A Septic Tank For? (Best solution)

A clean-out allows you to easily access the drain line in the event of a clog, and in some applications can prevent flooding inside your home. If properly placed, the clean-out may also be used when pumping out the septic tank for routine cleaning.

What is the septic cleanout for?

From there, the sewage runs out of the house and into the county sewage system or a septic tank. Stuff happens, though, such as clogs of a dozen different types stopping a pipe from allowing waste water through. A sewer cleanout allows a snake or a hydrojetting tool to disperse the clog and get things running again.

Should there be water in septic cleanout?

If the water is standing in the pipe or overflows out the cleanout, then you know that the problem is from that point out. At this point you can either call your favorite septic company, or dig up the tank lids yourself and check the water level and solids content in the tank.

Where are Cleanouts required?

A cleanout is only required on the building drain as it is defined in Chapter 2: Building Drain – “That part of lowest piping of a drainage system which receives the discharge from soil, waste and other drainage pipes inside the walls of the building and conveys it to the building sewer beginning two feet outside the

What are the signs that your septic tank is full?

Here are some of the most common warning signs that you have a full septic tank:

  • Your Drains Are Taking Forever.
  • Standing Water Over Your Septic Tank.
  • Bad Smells Coming From Your Yard.
  • You Hear Gurgling Water.
  • You Have A Sewage Backup.
  • How often should you empty your septic tank?

Why is my cleanout full of water?

The sewer cleanout is often found inside your basement or right outside your house. If you pull off the cap and see standing water inside the sewer cleanout, that’s also indicative of a blocked sewer drain.

What happens if you don’t clean your septic tank?

What Are the Consequences of Not Pumping Your Tank? If the tank is not pumped, the solids will build up in the tank and the holding capacity of the tank will be diminished. Eventually, the solids will reach the pipe that feeds into the drain field, causing a clog. Waste water backing up into the house.

What is the white stuff in my septic tank?

The visible white buildup is calcification from the minerals in hard water. Aside from looking ugly, this calcite will start to coat the inside of your pipes, which will restrict water flow and start to raise the pressure within the plumbing until it erupts into leaking.

Do urinals require Cleanouts?

(CPC 707.4) (UPC 707.4), In commercial space, a cleanout is required to be installed above the fixture connection fitting for each urinal regardless the location of the urinal in the building as long as it is located at the floor level.

Do vent pipes need Cleanouts?

Re: Do dry vents need cleanouts? in the case of an island vent, yes it is required. it is not required for a simple dry vent but it is a good idea.

How many Cleanouts should a house have?

For every house, there’s usually only one sewer cleanout Ideally, all houses should have a main sewer cleanout. But a few don’t, while some larger houses can have as many as three. Whenever there is a blockage in your main drain line, this is the plumbing fitting to look for.

How do you know if your septic system is failing?

The first signs of a failing septic system may include slow draining toilets and sinks, gurgling noises within the plumbing, sewage odors inside, continuing drainage backups, or bacteria in the well water. The area of the strongest odor will point to the location of the failure in the septic system.

What is the most common cause of septic system failure?

Most septic systems fail because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. Some soil-based systems (those with a drain field) are installed at sites with inadequate or inappropriate soils, excessive slopes, or high ground water tables.

Do You Know about Your Sewer Cleanout – Why it’s Important and How to Locate It?

Sewer cleanouts aren’t something that comes up in regular discussion, but when something goes wrong, they’re a hot topic, aren’t they? In reality, the majority of homeowners aren’t even aware of the existence of their cleanouts, let alone what they perform. Because backed-up waste water in a house is such a horrible thing to think about, let alone experience, we thought we’d walk homeowners through the process of finding and using a sewer cleanout – including why it’s vital and where to look.

What is a Sewer Cleanout and how does it work?

They are brought together by a major pipe system known as a stack.

Things do happen, though, such as jams of a dozen various varieties preventing a pipe from enabling waste water to pass through it, for example.

  • What is the significance of these individuals?
  • In the event that waste water seeps into the flooring and baseboards before being cleaned up, the water will remain there unless it is cleaned quickly by specialists.
  • Furthermore, if the health agency becomes aware of the situation, the homeowner will be punished and ordered to clean up the mess.
  • The presence of a sewage cleanout that does not have a proper cap on it means that those gases might be released into the air around or within the house.
  • Not all plumbing is up to code, or in other cases is only up to code to the point of passing inspection.
  • This might result in the cleanout being located in a variety of locations, including on the drain stack in the basement.
  • Stacks are equipped with a roof exit, where a cleanout might be installed.

In most cases, the pipes will be either cast iron or PVC (plastic) piping, with a cap on top that will be either plastic, brass, or cast iron in construction.


Second, locate the sewer cleanout that is located outside the home.

If homeowners are able to remove the cap, they will be able to go into the line with a snake and unclog it.

They will be able to open the cap since they will have the appropriate wrenches.

Every day, hundreds of individuals are faced with the task of unclogging their sewer cleanout, but many have no idea where to begin.

On rare occasions, though, you’ll need to know where the sewer cleanout is in order to avoid flooding.

We hope that this explanation has been helpful. Bay Area Plumbing is ready for all of your plumbing requirements 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require assistance with a blockage, please do not hesitate to contact us for further information and assistance.


You should examine the sewer cleanout on the exterior of the home if you are hearing gurgling and all of the house fixtures are clogged. This is often a black 3-4 in color “inch ABS pipe with a threaded cap is available. Remove the cap (WARNING: BE CAREFUL! (WARNING: IT MAY CONTAIN SOME PRESSURE!) : Assuming the sewage line is completely dry, you will have a clog inside the home plumbing, directly in front of the cleanout valve. Make a phone call to a plumber and have them rooter the line. Sewer line cameras are available from several rooter/plumbing businesses.

  • You have two options at this point: call your preferred septic provider or pull up the tank lids yourself and check the water level and solids content in the tank yourself.
  • Most tanks erected after January 2001 include a filter that has to be cleaned at least once a year (we clean filters—please call us).
  • We’ll even notify you once a year when it’s time to clean your filters!).
  • It’s likely that you have a blockage in your sewage system.


Whenever you flush the toilet, the water gurgles, the toilet takes an unusually long time to flush, or the water in the shower turns brownish after you have done the laundry, you are receiving a subtle indication that trouble is brewing. In order to determine when the tank was last pumped, look through your records and then contact your preferred septic provider for assistance.


If you are experiencing unpleasant odors within your home, such as rotten eggs, it is likely that a trap or vent inside your home is not venting correctly. Call your plumber right away since these gases are harmful to both people and animals!


At times, the smells emanating from the roof vents will seep into the yard due to meteorological conditions. Make use of a plumber to elevate the roof vents and/or to place a charcoal filter in the vents, as needed. It’s important to remember that your septic tank is vented via the roof.


If you notice effluent appearing in your yard, contact your septic service provider immediately. If you see this, it indicates that your leach line has failed and you should get help right away.


Contrary to common perception, you DO need to have your septic tank pumped on a regular basis. Pumping maintenance should be performed on a regular basis, otherwise your system will get overwhelmed with solid waste and eventually cause damage to your leach lines.

DON’T MAKE THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! This is an extreme example of a tank that is overflowing. There is sewage flowing from the tank access holes and into the yard!

grease build up in sewer pipes

Fats and grease should never be flushed down the toilet or sink. They have the potential to harden the lines and cause failure; they have the potential to generate an excessive buildup of the floating scum layer in the septic tank; and they have the potential to go into the disposal regions and adjacent soils and completely block the system off. A shattered lid can pose a serious threat to both animals and children. It is conceivable that they will fall through the cracked or broken lids and will not be noticed until it is too late to save themselves.

crushed or settled pipe

This is the second most prevalent problem we notice in septic systems that are less than 10 years old. In addition to blocking flow, loose fill soil surrounding the tank is causing a backup into the house since it is pulling the pipe with it as it settles. We have even observed instances when contractors installing new systems do not correctly pack the fill earth below the pipe, resulting in pipe settlement on systems that have not been utilized or have only been used for a short length of time (see below for an example).


When it comes to modern septic systems, this is the most typical issue we encounter. Take note of the fact that the unsupported outlet pipe is being driven down by settling dirt. Watch as the water level in the tank rises, forcing the flow of water in the inflow sewage line to slow. This will eventually result in a clog in the inflow sewer line at some point. The solids flowing down from the house will not be able to enter the tank correctly because of the high water level.

examples of settled sewer pipes:

INSTALLATION OF A TANK AND/OR REPAIR OF SEWER PIPESTHE “POLY” PIPEIMAGES BELOW PROVIDE AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT PIPENOTTO USES WHEN INSTALLING A TANK AND/OR REPAIR OF SEWER PIPES However, despite the fact that this grade of sewer pipe is less expensive at the time of purchase, it might end up costing you a lot of money in the long run!

settled inlet sewer pipe on unused system:

Even if the septic system has not been utilized in some time, it is conceivable that problems will be discovered during the inspection process. Pipes might settle on unoccupied ground and in yards as a result of faulty installation and/or automobiles and/or ATVs running over the pipes without realizing they are there. It may be beneficial to all parties to have a skilled inspector take a look at the system and diagnose any concerns, even though the County does not require an examination on an underused system before transferring ownership.

Roots growing in and around the septic tank:

In addition to disrupting the system by clogging or destroying drainage and distribution lines, tree roots can also enter the tank, causing it to leak. Foul odors, poor drainage, and patches of vegetation in the leach field are just a few of the signs that you may have a root problem.


Solids are kept in the septic tank and away from the disposal area with the use of concrete baffles. Using baffles to reduce agitation of wastewater entering the septic tank and prevent particles from escaping the tank and entering the drainfield, baffles can assist avoid drainfield damage and extend the life of the drainfield.

If the baffles are broken, missing, or have never been placed, the drainfield’s life expectancy will be reduced significantly. Baffle repair normally entails the placement of a plastic tee at the end of the sewer pipes to prevent them from clogging.

orangeburg sewer pipes

Orangeburg pipe was made in Orangeburg, New York, from 1860 to 1970, and was utilized to plumb numerous septic and wastewater systems throughout Yavapai County during that time period. Orangeburg pipe is produced from rolled tar paper (wood pulp that has been sealed with hot pitch) and was considered a low-cost alternative to metal, particularly after World War II, because of its flexibility and durability. In fact, the pipe itself is so soft that professionals might cut it with a knife during the installation process!

Orangeburg, on the other hand, is known for degrading over time (it has a 50-year lifespan at the most) and deforming when subjected to pressure.

If the septic system is approved, Orangeburg will normally be stated on the permits as the material for the inlet and/or outflow pipe material, respectively.

Sewer Clean Out for Residential Homes 101

a wooded trail / Photo courtesy of Fotolia Septic system failures can be prevented by utilizing a variety of fail-safes in contemporary plumbing. Your home is well-protected against sewage backups, with everything from drain traps to sump pumps and vent pipes. The sewage clean out is an extremely vital component of this system, and you should be aware of its existence. Despite its harmless look, having one or more clean outs in your home’s sewage line may have a significant impact on both the health of your sewer line and the health of your wallet.

What is a Sewer Clean Out?

In most cases, the sewer clean out is a capped pipe that is positioned on or near your property line and connects to the lateral sewage line. In plumbing, a lateral sewer line is a pipe that links the sewage lines in your house to either the municipal sewer system or your septic tank. Septic waste can back up into drains when the lateral becomes blocked, causing a nuisance as well as potential health risks for anyone who are exposed to it. Maintaining your sewer pipes and draining water in the event of a backup are two important benefits of having a clean out.

See also:  Where Can I Get My Septic Tank Pumped In Willimantic? (Solution found)

How to Find the Sewer Clean Out

The sewer clean out is a tiny, capped conduit that protrudes from the ground surface. Unfortunately, finding it is not always straightforward. The fact that many homes have several clean outs and, in some rare circumstances, the clean out is actually placed within the house just adds to the complexity of the situation. The methods that follow should assist you in finding the clean out more quickly.

  1. The Sidewalk Should Be Checked– In many localities, the location where your lateral joins the municipal sewer line is indicated on the sidewalk. Along the curb and sidewalk, look for a letter ‘S’ that has been stamped or painted. If you come across this marker, you may easily visualize a straight line from the mark to your house, where the lateral may be located if you look closely. In certain situations, you may even be fortunate enough to come upon a clean out in the neighborhood of where you are looking. Search Near Your Foundation– In many circumstances, locating the sewer clean out near the road is impractical, or the home’s former owners elected to have more than one sewer clean out built. In these cases, you should search near your foundation. When you have a septic system in place, sewer clean outs are also typically positioned close to the home’s location. If you are more than three feet from the foundation, you will most likely find the cap anywhere between the road or septic tank and the point at which your home’s sewage line exits the foundation and enters the ground
  2. Look for extra clean outs inside– Some homes, particularly older ones, may have clean outs that are either hidden within the structure or protrude from the exterior walls of the structure. Check the basements, crawl spaces, and attic for probable vent pipe sites along with the vent pipe. Most of the time, indoor sewer clean outs will look to be a junction with one side of the Y or T shaped intersection being capped. These are important for keeping your interior pipelines in good condition, even if they are not essential.

What if the Property Lacks a Sewer Clean Out?

It is possible that older properties may not have a sewer clean out. The latter is particularly true if one is not obligated to do so by municipal or state plumbing regulations. It is typically preferable to have one installed in such situations. Sometimes your home has a clean out that has just been covered up by dirt, which is another situation. If you suspect the house has a clean out but have been unable to identify it, you may want to conduct some light digging along the ground where you assume the clean out should be in order to locate it.

Another option is to hire a plumber to put a camera through the line in order to identify the clean out from within the pipe and determine the location of the digging site.

Benefits of a Sewer Clean Out

While having a sewage clean out is mandated by law in certain jurisdictions, if you have an older property or live in a state where they are optional, you may find yourself without one. There are, however, various advantages to having a clean out installed on your home, including the following:

Lower Maintenance Costs

The clean out gives you direct access to the sewage lateral on your property’s property. This means that a plumbing professional may monitor the water flow from each individual faucet in your home to verify that there are no blockages or other pipe concerns during their monthly maintenance visits.

Cheaper and Easier Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your sewage lines, a plumber would normally have to remove your toilet or perhaps climb onto the roof to do so. They will have easier access to the sewage lateral if they have a sewer clean out performed. Because of the time and effort savings, you will have a lower overall bill.

Protects Your Landscaping

If you have a big clog, one advantage that only becomes evident in an emergency situation is the fact that a sewer clean out can assist eliminate the need to dig up your yard in the case of a clog. The sewer lateral, in contrast to many of the pipes within your home, is totally underground and cannot be inspected for wear or damage without digging the area where it is located. The sewer clean out serves as an entry point for your lateral, allowing it to be more readily examined and maintained.


It can also be used as an external drain if a large amount of blockage is encountered. Taking the clean out cap off will allow you to drain the extra water, which will save your property from flooding. When there is an issue with the municipal sewer that is forcing water back up into your lateral, this may also be beneficial.

How to Install a Sewer Clean Out

It is necessary to complete many steps in order to install a clean out. Depending on the circumstances, your local municipality may provide programs to assist with the cost of installation, particularly in situations where a sewer clean out was not previously required by code. Before you begin, make sure you check for any available programs or grants, as well as any necessary permissions or licenses. It is also recommended to get expert assistance if you do not have prior experience splicing or installing sections of pipe in order to prevent making costly blunders.

Choosing a Clean Out Type

The first and most important step before starting any work is to choose the sort of sewer clean out you will be using. There are three alternatives accessible at the present time: Double Clean Out– The double clean out is the most common type of clean out used in contemporary installations. It contains two shafts that link to the lateral pipe in a ‘U’ configuration, making it the most common type of clean out used in modern installations. The cap that is closest to your home allows for simple access to the city end of the lateral, but the cap that is closest to the street allows you to preserve the house end of the lateral (see illustration).

Despite its T design, the test tee clean out provides access to both ends of the lateral, but it can be difficult to use for clearing obstructions owing to a 90 degree angle at the intersection.

Excavation and Installation

A section of pipe will need to be excavated in order to locate your lateral line. This can be accomplished using either conventional hand tools or leased equipment, with caution to avoid damaging the lateral pipe. As soon as you have completely exposed the desired portion of the pipe, you should measure out the section of pipe that will be removed. The type of cutting equipment you’ll need will depend on the material that your lateral pipe is constructed of. Once the undesirable portion has been removed, you will be able to measure, cut, and install the new junction section in its place.

Most of the time, it’s advisable to put a container box around the top to keep it from being overgrown or buried too quickly.

Professional Cleaning Cost with a Sewer Clean Out

Even while cleaning your own lateral line may appear to be a cost-effective choice, there is always the possibility of causing damage to the pipes. A professional plumber can complete the task more efficiently and at a lower cost if they have access to the sewage system through a sewer clean out. As a result, they use less tools and less effort than if they were required to dig up your yard or snake the lateral from an interior location of your property. With a basic estimate range of $99 to $900 and an overall average of $288, HomeAdvisorgives provides a reliable service.

When it comes to costs, CostHelper gives more specific estimates, with an estimated cost of snaking your lateral ranging from $148 to $900, with an average cost of $410.

Additional costs will include a video examination of the line, which will cost between $100 and $800.

Some plumbing businesses may quote you a fixed charge but then urge you to tack on extra services in order to raise the total cost of the job.

How To Install a Septic Tank Sewer Cleanout

  • Despite the fact that cleaning your own lateral line may appear to be a cost-effective option, there is always the possibility of causing damage to your pipes. If you have access to a sewer clean out, it is more efficient and less expensive to hire a professional plumber to complete the job. The reason for this is that they have more direct access, requiring less tools and less effort than if they had to dig up your yard or snake the lateral from a location within the house. With a basic estimate range of $99 to $900, and an overall average of $288, HomeAdvisorgives provides a reliable service. This does not include any additional charges for the use of a camera or a waterjetter. In greater detail, CostHelper estimates that the cost of snaking your lateral will range between $148 and $900, with an average cost of $410 per foot. They point out that the distance traveled by the snake has an impact on your entire cost, and that it is less expensive to snake the lateral from an external clean out than it is to snake it from an access point within the house. Additional costs will include a video examination of the line, which will cost between $100 and $8,000. When hiring a professional to come in, make sure they are qualified and have a good reputation in the community. Some plumbing businesses may quote you a fixed charge but then urge you to tack on extra services in order to raise the total cost of the work. Take your time and search around to get the ideal combination of quality and price.

A clean-out port in your drain pipes may save you a lot of time and money, as well as avoiding a potentially nasty issue in some situations. In the event of a blockage, a clean-out allows you to quickly and easily access the drain line, and in some cases, it can avoid flooding inside your house. If the clean-out is correctly installed, it may also be utilized for routine septic tank cleaning while pumping out the septic tank.

Step 1

Locate the drain line as it exits the home and follow it.

The majority of septic tanks are placed at least 10 feet away from the house. Choose a site for the clean-out that is roughly 5 feet away from the house and put it there. The drain line should be no deeper than 2 feet or no deeper than 2 feet and 1 inch.

Step 2

3 to 6 inches deeper than the drain line should be dug out of the ground. In order to have enough space to work, you will also need to expose 3 to 4 feet of the pipe on either side. Remove any loose dirt from the drain line and make ensure that no water or appliances are running inside the house in order to keep the drain line as dry as possible.

Step 3

Remove a portion of pipe from the drain line by cutting into it. The length of the excised part should be the same as the length of the tee fitting. Make sure to account for the flange on the tee fitting, which will be used to enter the drain line on both ends of the fitting. Make use of the pipe cleaner to clean both ends of the drain line as well as the fitting on the end of the line.

Step 4

Connect the tee fitting to the drain line using the hose clamp. Place the fittings such that the open port is pointing upward when the fittings are closed. Make use of sufficient quantities of pipe cement to guarantee a firm and secure fit. Calculate the distance between the fitting and the ground level. A piece of PVC pipe should be cut to match this measurement and firmly glued into the tee fitting to complete the installation.

Step 5

Place the PVC pipe cap on top of the new pipe and tighten it down. It is recommended that you acquire a threaded cap so that it may be removed easily when service is necessary. A pop-out fitting is another option to consider. If there is a backup of water in the pipe, the weighted cap on this fitting will keep it securely in place. This will cause the insert to pop out and enable the water to drain outdoors instead of backing up into the house. These are not permissible in all jurisdictions, so verify your local codes before putting them in.


When cutting into the drain line, always sure to use eye and hand protection. There will be sewage leftovers in the line, and you will want to prevent your eyes and skin from being contaminated as much as possible. Some homeowners may build a clean-out on both sides of the septic tank so that they can have easy access to all drain pipes as well as the tank itself while doing maintenance.

Tips for Installing Accessible Clean-Outs

Receive articles, news, and videos about Systems/ATUs sent directly to your email! Now is the time to sign up. Systems/ATUs+ Receive Notifications A thorough cleaning is necessary for all systems. The installation of a clean-out at an exterior wall of a residence or company is recommended in case the system ever has to be jetted or cleaned. The clean-out allows all of this work to be completed outside, ensuring that any mess is contained to the outside. There is the risk that the clean-out will be disguised within the house, as well as the danger of a significant leak.

A clean-out that is both directions Clean-outs should be easily accessible from the surface and, where necessary, should be housed in a protective enclosure such as a valve box.

The clean-out at the exterior wall may be located either within or outside the building, and it should be manufactured with a complete “Y” branch fitting that extends at least 2 inches above grade or finished floor, unless when a flush cover is required in high-traffic sections of the structure.

It is recommended, and in certain cases, mandatory, that the distance between clean-outs in horizontal pipework does not exceed 100 feet in straight lines in straight runs.

Unless put beneath an authorized cover plate or flush with the completed floor, each clean-out in a residence shall be at least 2 inches above grade, easily accessible, and not covered with cement, plaster, or any other permanent finish material, according to building codes.

Clean-outs in soil treatment systems

Clear-outs for pressure distribution pipes should be done to ensure that the system is operating properly and to clean any clogged perforations in the pipe. Access to the clean-outs should be available from the final grade level. These clean-ups should include the following:

  • Threaded detachable caps or plugs should be installed on the ends of the laterals to enable for cleaning of the laterals and to monitor lateral pressure. To be big enough to enable for the removal of caps or plugs with hands, tools, or other objects
  • It must be accessible from the ground level
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In pressurized laterals, clean-outs are installed at the distal end to allow for the flushing of the system prior to starting, the monitoring of the operating pressure, and the regular flushing away of particles. Sweep clean-outs at 90 degrees The clean-out pipe layout varies, but the most simple and convenient clean-out consists of a 90-degree turn up in the pipe. It is possible to employ two 45-degree elbows or one sweep 90-degree elbow. The usage of these allows the service provider to clean with a pressure washer or bottlebrush since the gradual turn allows for the simple insertion of the pressure line into the pressure line fitting.

  1. Ball valves can also be fitted at the distal end of the lateral in a vertical position as an alternative to the above.
  2. It is necessary to have a hole about halfway up the elbow to ensure that air may re-enter the pipe once the pump has been turned off.
  3. It is advised that rock be placed in the box to plug the perforation in order to prevent effluent from spraying freely into the container.
  4. In colder climates, it is also recommended to use insulation on the lid of this box.
  5. Make certain that the access is completely stabilized in order to prevent movement during backfill activities and after the installation is complete.
  6. a little about the author: Sara Heger, Ph.D., is an engineer, researcher, and lecturer in the Onsite Sewage Treatment Program at the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center.
  7. She has given presentations at several local and national training events on topics such as the design, installation, and administration of septic systems, as well as research in the related field.

Send an email to [email protected] if you have any concerns concerning septic system care and operation. Heger will respond as soon as possible.

There’s a Backup: Plumbing or Septic Tank Problem? [Video]

In pressurized laterals, clean-outs are installed at the distal end to allow for the flushing of the system prior to starting, the monitoring of operating pressure, and the regular flushing away of particles. Sweep clean-outs at 90 degrees. There are several other types of clean-out configurations, but the most simple and convenient clean-out is a 90-degree turn up in the pipe. You may either utilize two 45-degree elbows or one sweep 90-degree elbow. The usage of these allows the service provider to clean with a pressure washer or bottlebrush since the gradual turn allows for the simple insertion of the pressure line into the pressure line socket.

  • Additionally, ball valves in a vertical position can be fitted at the distal end of the lateral.
  • In order to ensure that air may re-enter the pipe after the pump has been turned off, a hole must be installed partway up the elbow.
  • It is advised that rock be placed in the box to plug the perforation in order to prevent effluent from spraying freely within the container.
  • In colder areas, it is also advisable to insulate the lid of this box.
  • To prevent movement during backfill activities and after installation, ensure that the access has been properly stabilized.
  • The author’s biographical information is as follows: At the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center, Dr.
  • She holds a Ph.D.
  • Many local and national training seminars on the design, installation, and maintenance of septic systems as well as associated research are presented by her.
  • Send an email to [email protected] with your questions for Heger on septic system care and operation.
  1. Alternatively, if there is no backup in the septic cleanout, we recommend that you contact a plumber since this is an indication that the wastewater from your residence is not making it to the cleanout. Back-up from the cleanout might be caused by either the septic system or an obstruction between the cleanout and the tank if the cleanout does not contain any water. A plumber is likely to be required in this situation, and a septic maintenance company is also likely to be required
  2. In this scenario, the odds are 50/50.

Check your septic tank’s liquid level

You may also peek straight into your septic tank to see whether the liquid level is normal or excessive if your tank is accessible or if you are ready to dig up the tank’s cover to access the tank.

A normal liquid level indicates that you should contact a plumber, while an overfilled tank indicates that you should contact a septic firm.

Your septic system’s age can be a factor

You may also peek straight into your septic tank to see whether the liquid level is normal or excessive if your tank is visible or if you are ready to dig up the lid. A normal liquid level indicates that you should contact a plumber, while an overfilled tank indicates that you should contact a septic firm.

What Is a Sewer Cleanout?

In the event that your sewage pipes get clogged, it may be a significant problem. It can cause all of the plumbing fixtures in your home to become inoperable until it is removed, which can be accomplished with the use of a water jet or a sewer auger, sometimes known as a “snake.” Regardless of the method you use, you’ll need a mechanism to get the water or the snake into the sewage line. It is for this reason that sewer cleanouts are required. Drain obstructions may be removed with the use of sewer cleanout fittings.

While branch drains and main sewer cleanouts are frequently similar in that they allow you to snake out obstructions when they occur in smaller drain lines, the main sewer cleanout is employed when a clog occurs in the main sewer line out to the municipal sewer line or septic system.

The sewage cleanout fitting is used to clear away clogs in the main sewer pipe.

The Reason You Need Cleanouts

The cleanout allows you to gain access to the sewage line so that you may clear any obstructions. An obstruction in a sewage line is typically caused by compacted waste matter, however other factors such as tree roots, inadequate venting, and problems with the septic system can also contribute to the problem. When dealing with dense material, a sewer auger, which is generally a motorized instrument, can handle most of it. However, unlike a toilet or an auger, you cannot enter a sewage auger into a sewer line through a toilet or fixture drain.

It is for this reason that sewer cleanouts are required.

In most cases, one or two of them are buried in the ground along the length of the pipe, and another is usually located immediately outside the home.

Cleanouts are deliberately positioned throughout the sewage system to provide for access to all portions of the line.

When it is discovered that a blockage is located upstream of a certain cleanout, you must approach it via a different cleanout since the auger cannot travel upstream on its own. For this reason, there are frequently more than one cleanout fittings in the waste system.


It is possible to determine the general position of a backup caused by a blockage by opening a cleanout and noting whether water pours out when you do so. If this is the case, the obstruction is located downstream of the cleanout. If there is no water coming out, the problem must be upstream.

How to Find and Open a Cleanout

A grate or a plastic panel may be installed over the cleanout to protect it from the elements. It is common for cleanouts to have a diameter that matches the diameter of the pipe to which they are attached, which is 3 or 4 inches. Most have a threaded end that takes a screw cap, while others have a slip fitting that covers the threaded end. The end of the cap is normally capped with a big square nut, which is ideal for grasping with a pipe wrench to secure it. You’ll need the pipe wrench since, after being left undisturbed for several years, the cap is frequently fused to the threads and difficult to move with a standard pipe wrench.

  • If you have a copy of the plumbing plans for the house, you may use these to locate the cleanouts because they are the most reliable method of doing so.
  • It’s likely that you’ll notice the cleanout caps poking up from the ground.
  • Image courtesy of krungchingpixs/iStock/Getty Images.
  • That, however, can be more difficult said than done, so you may need to employ one or more of the following strategies to get the cap to turn:
  • With a length of 1-inch steel tubing, you may make the wrench handle longer. The more the length of the pipe you utilize, the greater the amount of leverage you will have
  • To loosen the threads on the cap, pound it with a hammer. Penetrate lubricant should be applied to the cap. Wait 5 minutes to enable the lubrication to permeate into the threads before attempting to spin the screw. As needed, add additional lubrication. Heat should be applied. Use a propane torch to heat the cap if it is made of cast iron
  • If it is made of plastic, use nothing hotter than a hair dryer set to its maximum setting.


If you’ve already applied lubricant, avoid applying heat to the area. Spray lubricant is very flammable and has the potential to ignite.

How to Locate Your Sewer Cleanout in Case of Emergency

The drain cleanout is a direct connection to the main sewage line, which can be found either within or outside the property. If the trap is positioned within the house, it is referred to as the main house trap; if it is located outside of the house, it is referred to as the sewer cleanout. However, despite the little shift in terminology, the purpose of this cleanup remains the same: This addition to the home plumbing system is intended to provide plumbing professionals with an easy-to-access point through which they can reach clogs and sewage backup in the main sewage line that extends from the foundation of the home, under the ground, and out to the municipal sewage system, a private septic tank, or the portion of the main house drain piping downstream of the house trap, among other locations.

Only plumbing specialists should utilize the drain cleanout, but being aware of its presence during an emergency clog or backlog may save valuable time and money in the cleaning and restoration process, potentially saving thousands of dollars.

A drain cleanout pipe is commonly three, four, or six inches in diameter and white or black in color, depending on the manufacturer.

Some residences may also have drainage pipes made of brass or copper, though these are far less common. Keep in mind the type of material used in your sewage system as you follow these easy procedures to locate the main drain or plumbing cleanout valve.

Before You Begin

Before you begin, it’s crucial to understand that the overall placement of the drain cleanout varies based on the environment of the area where you live.

  • Houses built to a standard in colder areas will often have drain cleanouts installed within the structure. People who live in colder areas and whose homes were constructed on a slab foundation may find an outside drain cleanout, or they may find it in a bathroom, garage, or utility room
  • Therefore, people who live in this sort of property may need to explore both indoors and outdoors. Those in warm regions will often have an external drain cleanout in the yard
  • However, homes in colder climates would not.


  • There are drainage pipes running throughout the house, connecting every sink, toilet, and water-using equipment, such as the dishwasher and washing machine. Therefore, discovering a drainage pipe should not be a difficult task. Look for black or white ABS, cast iron, copper, or bronze drainage pipes that lead away from the sink, toilet, or appliance you’re looking to fix or replace. In most cases, following these drainage pipes will lead you to the main sewage line.

Look for a T- or Y-Shaped Pipe Fitting With a Cap or Plug

  • Whereas when a drain cleanout is built within the home, it is usually found on the main sewage line, which is positioned immediately before the main line joins the foundation of the structure. Typically, the drain cleanout will be on a T- or Y-shaped pipe fitting, and it will be equipped with a threaded stopper and a square nut. It is also possible that a plastic cap will be placed over this nut. The drain cleanout, on the other hand, is not usually put on the main line. Depending on your location, you may need to check around for a black or white pipe with a threaded plug and an oval nut
  • In certain cases, you may need to dig around to discover an additional entry point to the sewage system.

Check Bathrooms, Utility Rooms, and the Garage

  • If the sewage cleanout is not located on the main sewer line, you will need to look for it in other areas of the house before determining its position. Take a flashlight with you to help you see better in low-light situations. It is common for the drain cleanout to be located near a collection of drainage pipes, such as in a complete bathroom with drains for the sink, toilet, and shower. Make a visual inspection of each bathroom in the house, searching for a capped ABS plastic drain line in black or white. As a last resort, examine the utility room or garage if you can’t find the drain cleanout where you think you might have put it. Occasionally, present or past owners may have made improvements that concealed the location of the main drain cleanout. As soon as you believe that this is the case, you should contact a plumber who will be able to identify and clear up the drain cleanout without causing more damage to your property.

Test the Drain Cleanout Plug

After locating the drain cleanout, it’s a good idea to test the plug to make sure it hasn’t been seized as a result of lack of usage. Make use of a pipe wrench or a big set of channel locks to tighten the square nut on the drain cleanout plug while wearing disposable gloves. Begin to crank the nut with the wrench in small increments until it is completely loose. After removing any accumulated filth from the threads, replace the plug with a new one. In certain instances, an expanding plug may be used to cover the cleanout, which may be freed by rotating a screw located in the middle of the plug.


  1. As soon as you begin to open the plug and notice water or feel pressure beneath the plug, it’s time to contact a professional. This indicates that the clog in the line has caused the pipe leading outside the home to get clogged. Depending on where you are in the world when you pull the plug, your drainage pit, yard, or house may get flooded by backed-up raw sewage.
See also:  When Is It Too Late To Pump Out A Septic Tank? (Best solution)

Locating Outdoor Drain Cleanouts

  • To locate an outside drain cleanout, you will first need to walk to either the septic tank, if your property is on a septic system, or the municipal sewer line, if your property is not on a septic system. It is possible to identify the sewage line by looking for the nearest manhole or by looking for a curb with a huge S stamped into the concrete.

Estimate the Direction of the Drainage Line

  • Septic systems will often have the drain cleanout situated near to the residence, in line with the septic tank, in order to save space. Simply go back from the tank and towards the house, keeping an eye out for a plastic pipe protruding from the lawn or garden as you go. Similar to this, the drain cleanout on a municipal wastewater system will normally be located near to the house or other building. This drainage system should be connected to the municipal sewer system
  • However, because the actual drainage line is not visible, you will need to follow a broad path around the yard in order to locate the drain cleanout pipe. Typically, the pipe is black or white in color, and it is sealed with a threaded plug that has a square nut on it and is branded S, C.O., or cleanout on the outside. Although, in some cases, this plug is protected by a plastic cap or a metal lid, this is not always the case. With this in mind, look for any things that may be used to cover or house a 3-, 4-, or 6-inch diameter pipe.

Move Lawn Decorations, Foliage, and Other Obstacles

  • If you are still unable to identify the drain cleanout, it is possible that it has been accidently covered or intentionally hidden from view. The drain cleanout should be located adjacent to the residence in an area along the main sewer or septic line, which may be identified by the presence of drain pipe clusters in full or partially completed bathrooms. Begin by removing any lawn decorations that are blocking the view of the yard outside of the restrooms, gradually increasing the search area. Always keep in mind that a cleanup might be buried in a garden or hidden by overgrown vegetation. Overgrown grass may also be an issue, so you may wish to cut the lawn to make the hunt for a lost pet a little bit easier on yourself. Occasionally, the sewer cleanout is totally buried in the yard, in which case you will need to make an educated guess as to where the drainage line is coming from and use a long screwdriver to dig approximately 1 inch into the ground, probing for the pipe’s top. Nonetheless, because this approach is mainly trial and error, even with a strong informed estimate, you may want to consider hiring a professional to identify the drain cleanout
  • However, this method is not without risks.

Mark and Test the Drain Cleanout

  1. After identifying the drain cleanout, mark the site with a metal stake and a brightly colored flag so that you have a fast reference point in the event of an emergency. In addition, the drain cleanout plug should be checked to ensure that it may be removed if necessary. Slowly loosen the nut from the pipe with a pipe wrench or a set of big channel locks to avoid damaging the pipe. In most cases, the nut should be easy to thread out
  2. However, if you notice any water or feel pressure in the line, tighten the nut again and contact a plumber to clear the obstruction in the line.


The house sewage system can be severely damaged by even the most expert do-it-yourselfers. This can result in sewage backing up into the septic system, onto the yard, or even into the house itself. It is possible to save time and effort while also saving possibly thousands of dollars in clean-up and home restoration costs if you only use qualified professional plumbers to remove blockages and perform repairs to the main drainage line and drain cleanout.

SEPTIC PROBLEMS – Learn about the warning signs

Toilets that gurgle, toilets that are a little difficult to flush, and water that rises in low portions of plumbing, such as shower stalls, are all symptoms of a failing septic system. Nonetheless, if you are suffering backup or a septic problem, you must know what to do immediately in order to prevent destroying your floor coverings and walls. Please contact us at 561 262 0099.

Step One:

  1. If you have a two-way clean out on the outside of your house, make sure you open it up! Check to check if there is any standing water in the pipe. If there is visible water in the tank, the problem is with the septic tank. Contact a septic tank contractor in your area. It’s possible that you have a plumbing problem if you remove your two clean out caps and there is no water in the pipe when you do so. If you don’t already have one, install a two-way clean out and make a note of where it is located.

Step Two:

  1. Check the water level in the septic tank by opening it on the intake side. The input pipe itself is frequently obstructed for a variety of reasons
  2. They include but are not limited to If the water level rises over the input pipe, it is possible that a problem may arise in the drain field region.

Step Three:

  1. Occasionally, by pumping the tank, these issues will resolve themselves
  2. Look for an outlet filter if you have one. In order to prevent particles from entering your drain field, outlet filters are installed. They are effective in protecting your drain field, but they require regular maintenance. Sit down and consult with a competent specialist if there is no outlet filtration device installed and the water is not draining into the drain field or leach field. There are times when there is an obstruction in the drain field, and other times when the system is overloaded. In or near the drainfield region, never dig since digging might rip the delicate filter fabric and create serious difficulties.

Step Four

  1. If your drain field is no longer accepting water, it may be necessary to replace it. This occurs when roots infiltrate the system, bio-mat accumulates beneath the leach bed, sediments and sludge block the leach lines, or when daily consumption exceeds the capacity of the drain field to absorb it.

Checking Water Consumption

  1. The average indoor water use in a normal single-family home is about 70 gallons per person per day, according to the USDA. Toilets that leak can waste more than 200 gallons of water every day. If you have a toilet that runs occasionally, try putting food coloring in the upper bowl and seeing if it goes into the toilet bowl
  2. If it does, adjust the flapper valve or the toilet settings. Although a reverse osmosis unit discharges water while it is producing water, the amount of water discharged may not appear to be significant, yet it may saturate a drain field
  3. Examine your water use logs

Visit the Florida Department of Health and Human Services. rot is caused by the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas, which when combined with air and moisture forms an acid that eats away at concrete structures. The lid on the left is in good condition, while the lid on the right has been significantly degraded and is in danger of collapsing if walked on. Crown Rot is a kind of fungal infection. Broken fiberglass lids are extremely hazardous and must be replaced as soon as possible. Drain Field pipe that was exposed, was also loaded with dirt, and was in danger of failing.

Roots will infiltrate the tank and do significant damage.

Roots from a tree growing in the outflow baffle The presence of roots in the septic system

Plumber Or Septic Tank Company? Who Should I Call?

A blocked drain is unquestionably a solid grounds to lodge a formal complaint. It is possible, however, that your drains are clogged and that this is causing a variety of problems, some of which may not be immediately apparent. Nevertheless, how do you know if you should call an emergency plumber or an emergency septic repair company? You might be shocked to hear that there is a significant difference between the two professions, and that, contrary to popular belief, they are not interchangeable in the workplace.

They can work with your home’s water supply to install or repair pipes, faucets, trash disposals, toilets, and water heaters, as well as other fixtures.

This is largely concerned with the septic tank, which is responsible for handling your wastewater.

Continue reading for advice from our septic business on how to determine which service to call when a problem arises. Jones PlumbingSeptic Tank Service is the company to call if it turns out that you require septic tank repair or replacement services.

Count How Many Drains Are Backed Up

It’s possible that you initially noticed the problem in the kitchen sink, but are there any other fixtures that are clogging up with water? Check all of the toilets, sinks, and bathtubs in the house to see if any of them are experiencing the same problem as the one you are experiencing. If numerous fixtures are clogged at the same time, the septic tank is most likely the source of the problem. If only one fixture is clogged, it is generally best to call a plumber for assistance. However, if the problems are located on the ground level or in close proximity to the septic tank, it may still be a septic problem.

How Old Is The Septic System?

The septic system in your home degrades with time, just like any other component of your property. You should anticipate your septic system to last roughly 25 years on average, but this can vary depending on a variety of factors such as consumption, household size, and whether or not periodic maintenance has been conducted. It’s generally best to hire a plumber if the septic tank is brand new and hasn’t been used yet. If the tank, on the other hand, is ancient, it may be necessary to contact a septic firm.

Check The Septic System Cleanout

The short PVC pipe between your house and the tank should be visible, and it should either stick out slightly or be level with the ground to determine if the septic system cleanout is in working order. Pulling off the cap and peering into the cleanout will reveal the following: If there is no standing water, it is likely that there is a problem between the cleanout and the house, and a plumber should be called to resolve the problem. Standing water can indicate one of two things: either there is a blockage between the cleanout and the tank (in which case a plumber should be called), or the septic tank is overflowing (call a septic company).

Jones PlumbingSeptic Tank Service offers a homeowner’s guide to septic systems that include further professional recommendations.

How Your Septic System Works

Underground wastewater treatment facilities, known as septic systems, are often employed in rural regions where there are no centralized sewage lines. They clean wastewater from residential plumbing, such as that produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry, by combining natural processes with well-established technology. A conventional septic system is comprised of two components: a septic tank and a drainfield, often known as a soil absorption field. It is the septic tank’s job to decompose organic matter and to remove floatable stuff (such as oils and grease) and solids from wastewater.

Alternate treatment systems rely on pumps or gravity to assist septic tank effluent in trickling through a variety of media such as sand, organic matter (e.g., peat and sawdust), constructed wetlands, or other media to remove or neutralize pollutants such as pathogens that cause disease, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants.

Prior to discharging wastewater into the environment, several alternative systems are designed to evaporate or disinfect the effluent.

Specifically, this is how a typical conventional septic system works:

  1. All of the water that leaves your home drains down a single main drainage pipe and into a septic tank. An underground, water-tight container, often composed of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene, serves as a septic system’s holding tank. Its function is to retain wastewater for a long enough period of time to allow particles to sink to the bottom and form sludge, while oil and grease float to the surface and produce scum. Sludge and scum are prevented from exiting the tank and moving into the drainfield region by compartments and a T-shaped outlet. After that, the liquid wastewater (effluent) exits the tank and flows into the drainfield. The drainfield is a shallow, covered hole dug in unsaturated soil that serves as a drainage system. Porous surfaces are used to release pretreated wastewater because they allow the wastewater to pass through the soil and into the groundwater. In the process of percolating through the soil, wastewater is accepted, treated, and dispersed by the soil, finally discharging into groundwater. Finally, if the drainfield becomes overburdened with too much liquid, it can flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surface or resulting in toilet backups and sink backups. Finally, wastewater percolates into the soil, where it is naturally removed of harmful coliform bacteria, viruses, and nutrients. Coliform bacteria are a kind of bacteria that may be found in the intestines of humans and other warm-blooded animals, with humans being the most common host. As a result of human fecal contamination, it is a sign of this.

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority has built an animated, interactive model of how a residential septic system works, which you can view here.

Do you have a septic system?

It’s possible that you’re already aware that you have a septic system. If you are not sure, here are some tell-tale symptoms that you most likely are:

  • You make use of well water. In your home, the water pipe that brings water into the house does not have a meter. In the case of a water bill or a property tax bill, you will see “$0.00 Sewer Amount Charged.” It is possible that your neighbors have a septic system

How to find your septic system

You can locate your septic system once you have confirmed that you have one by following these steps:

  • Taking a look at the “as constructed” drawing of your house
  • Making a visual inspection of your yard for lids and manhole covers
  • Getting in touch with a septic system service provider for assistance in locating it

Failure symptoms: Mind the signs!

A bad odor is not necessarily the first indicator of a septic system that is failing to work properly. Any of the following signs should prompt you to seek expert assistance:

  • Water backing up into the drains of homes and businesses
  • It is especially noticeable in dry weather that the drainfield grass is bright green and spongy. The presence of standing water or muddy soil near your septic system or in your basement
  • A strong stench emanating from the area surrounding the septic tank and drainfield

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