All About Sewer Cleanout

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While not a common topic of discussion, sewer cleanouts become an important topic once you start having trouble with your sewer system.

And when your sewer system is buried under the slab and in the yard, the sewer cleanout plays an vital role in diagnosing any problems.
What is a Sewer Cleanout?
Sewer cleanouts are the pipes that give you access to the rest of your home’s sewer system.
Most homes in the Minneapolis area have under slab sewer systems. Each fixture — toilets, faucets, etc. — connects to pipes that feed into a to a branch line buried underground. These branch lines connect to the main sewer line. The main sewer line leads out of your home into the yard, still underground, and connects to the city’s lines.
Sewer cleanout pipes are typically found somewhere outside near the perimeter of the house and are attached to the main sewer line. You will often find the sewer cleanout opening near ground level covered by a sewer cleanout cap.
Types of Sewer Cleanouts
There are two types of sewer cleanouts.
One-way Cleanout
A one-way cleanout allows for access in one direction.
If the curve is toward the yard, we would only be able to send something down the yard line. And vice versa.
Two-way Cleanout
A two-way cleanout provides access in both directions.
With this U-shaped cleanout, we are able to use it to access both the yard and the house lines.
Do All Homes Need a Sewer Cleanout?
Because all of the sewer pipes run under your home’s foundation, you can’t see when there’s a problem. Problems like stoppages, tree roots, leaks, bellying, or breaks go undetected until it reaches a point where you start experiencing things like slow drains, backed up drains, or worse.
This is where sewer cleanouts come into play. We use sewer cleanouts mostly for testing. We send sewer cameras into the cleanout and down through the lines to investigate, and we also insert inflatable test balls to test for leaks. Sometimes we can also use the sewer cleanouts to clear out a blockage using a sewer machine.
And sometimes you don’t even need tools to see there’s something wrong if you see standing water in the cleanout pipes. Since sewer pipes are installed at a slight decline to work with the power of gravity, standing water in your cleanout pipes means there’s a stoppage or belly in the line causing that water to not drain out to the city line.
So yes, all homes need a sewer cleanout.
Do All Homes Have a Sewer Cleanout?
At this point almost all homes have a sewer cleanout. The only houses that don’t are older homes in which a cleanout wasn’t installed originally. But even if you’re in an older home that was built without a sewer cleanout, it’s likely one was needed at some point and was installed.
But if you happen to be in a home without one, the system is probably cast iron. (It’s highly, highly, highly unlikely a PVC house did not have cleanouts installed as part of the system.)
And if this is the case, because we recommend replacing a cast iron system, we don’t recommend installing sewer cleanouts. There’s no reason to put a sewer cleanout on cast iron when you’re gonna replace the whole system, and a cleanout will be installed with the new system.
How to Find My Sewer Cleanout?
A lot of people think they don’t have sewer cleanouts. But as I said, pretty much all homes do these days.
It’s more likely that your sewer cleanout is buried, often in a flower bed area. People cover up the cleanout because they think it’s an eyesore. Then someone comes in and puts in more landscaping, mulch, etc., and covers it up even more. So at one time the cleanout may have originally been barely covered by half an inch of soil but now is covered by up to six inches.
If you’ve searched all along the perimeter of your home and still can’t find the cleanout, we can come out and use special tools to locate it.
Sewer Cleanout Installation Cost
As I said, it’s highly unlikely your home doesn’t already have a sewer cleanout. And if you are one of those rare cases, it’s because your system is cast iron and we don’t recommend installing sewer cleanouts on a system that needs to be replaced.
However, generally speaking, a sewer cleanout installation will run you around $1,000 to $1,500 depending on the company. The cost also depends on what exactly needs to be done to install the cleanout.
Is there concrete to get through? Is the main line really deep? These things and any other number of variables can add up making it more expensive.
Need Help with Your Sewer System?
A properly functioning sewer system is incredibly important for your home and your family. So if you think you have a problem with yours, please reach out to us at In-House Plumbing Company because we’re happy to help.
If you have any questions about sewer cleanout, give us a call the professional plumbers at Discount Plumbers in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. We are happy to discuss any issues you’re having, and always keep your specific needs and budget in mind.
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