cleanout capWhen you think of your home’s many creature comforts, which ones immediately come to mind? Is it your A/C system? Your heater during the winter, maybe? It could be that it’s your shower. Maybe you just love your backyard.

These are all good things, and they all make us feel a little more comfortable in their own ways. The one item in your home that leaves you feeling the most comfortable, however, is something you hardly ever think about and some might not even know about.

Drain clean-outs.

That’s right. The next time you have a minute, head down to your basement or crawlspace and look for a little opening into your sewer pipe.

Recognize that? Probably not. Hopefully your home has a few of them sprinkled around, but either way, I can assure you that they are making you more comfortable every day. How though? These bad boys make sure that your house, chock full of its creature comforts, doesn’t flood!

Drain clean-outs are incredibly important in a well-designed plumbing system. They are an easy way for you and your plumber to get quick access to a pipe without having to start from an opening, like a bathtub or sink. Additionally, they tend to be much larger than those openings and farther down a pipe toward its eventual terminus in the sewer, making it much easier to address downstream clogs.

Many folks will have one or two of these throughout their home, with at least one on the sewer pipe – called the stack – itself. Additionally, one or two of these may be out in your front yard- you can find them by looking for those small metal tops that look like miniature manhole covers.

If you’ve got a slow drain or have pipes that are fully clogged, and you’ve already tried removing the clog from the drain itself, you may want to try clearing the clog from your home’s clean-out. First, remove the cap and try feeding a small, hand-powered snake through the pipe upstream into your home. Keep pushing until you come across the clog. Once you do, give the snake a good twist to latch onto the clog and gently pull back to the clean-out to remove it.

If you don’t find anything going upstream, try going down.

You can also try using a garden hose to clear the clog. Feed the hose through the pipe until you reach the clog. Attach the other end to a faucet and pack the end of the pipe with rags. Turn the faucet on full blast and see if that does the trick.

If even this doesn’t work, more powerful snakes, called augers, can be rented from home improvement stores. Do use caution, however. If not used properly, these power augers can damage pipes causing more leaks.

If you don’t have any clean-outs right now, it’s a good time to get them installed! This is something that a plumber can do for you in less than an hour, and is best handled by a professional, since the work involves your sewer stack.