Sewer cleanouts aren’t the subject of everyday conversation, but they sure are when something goes wrong, aren’t they? In fact, most homeowners don’t know where their cleanouts are located or even what they do. Since backed up waste water in a home is such a terrible thing to contemplate, much less experience, we thought we’d take homeowners through a sewer cleanout – why it’s important and how to locate it. When they become the topic of everyday conversation, homeowners will know how to advise their fellow sufferers.
What is a Sewer Cleanout?
Plumbing pipes run all through a house. They come together in a main pipe system called a stack. 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.
And They’re Important for What Reason?
Waste water isn’t only smelly and unpleasant, it forms a health risk as well. When it seeps into the floors and baseboards before it’s cleaned up, waste water stays there, unless it’s cleaned immediately by professionals. That is a continued risk to the health of all who live in the house. Moreover, if the health department finds out about it, then the homeowner will be fined and instructed to get it cleaned up.
Additionally, dangerous gases build up in piping. Without a sewer cleanout with a proper cap on it, those gases could get into the air around the house or inside the house.
Where are Sewer Cleanout Pipes Located?
Not all plumbing is done to code, or in some places at least just enough to pass code. While most cleanouts are located outside the home, some (especially in older homes) are located inside. That could put the cleanout in several different places, including on the drain stack in the basement. A few pipes coming into the stack usually bend somewhere, and the cleanout on the stack is a better way of getting at the clog than removing a fixture like a toilet to get at the clog. Each stack has a roof exit, where a cleanout could be located. There are also cleanouts located outside the house in a line each 100 feet until they get to the main sewer line. The pipes will generally be either cast iron or PVC (plastic) piping with a cap of either plastic, brass or cast iron on top.
Anything Else We Should Know?
Absolutely. First, if you have a sewage problem, turn off the water immediately and stop using water fixtures like the washing machine and toilet. Second, find the sewer cleanout outside the house. Clear it of grasses, landscaping, dirt and debris and keep it clear. If homeowners can unscrew the cap, then they can get in there with a snake to unclog the line. If the homeowner can’t open the cap, then plumbers might need to be called. They will have the right wrenches with which to open the cap. They will also have a long enough snake or perhaps a hydrojetting tool if hydrojetting is required.
Hundreds of people every day need to unclog their sewer cleanout, but they haven’t a clue. Plumbing is usually a dank, dark, wet subject that homeowners don’t want to contemplate. Occasionally, though, you’ll need to know where the sewer cleanout is located. We hope this explanation helps. Bay Area Plumbing is available for all of your plumbing needs. If you need help with a blockage, then please feel free to contact us for more information and help.