what is a sewer cleanout and why does it matter?It is wise for anyone with a home to know what their sewer cleanout is and how to locate it. It is one of the most important parts of your plumbing system, as it allows your plumber to access the pipes without ripping up your landscaping or your drywall. But, you might accidentally block it by storing something or damage it while landscaping. Here is what you need to know.

What is a Sewer Cleanout?

A sewer cleanout is an extension of your sewer line that ends above ground with a threaded cap on it. A plumbing professional can unscrew the cap and access the sewer main or the drains in your home through this line. The sewer cleanout is also called a drain cleanout for that reason.

Where is Your Sewer Cleanout?

Most California homeowners can find their sewer cleanout on the exterior wall of their home, most commonly near a bathroom, a few feet in the air. It is often a white pipe with a white, circular cap on it (although it may be black when made from a different kind of pipe or brown from dirt or rust.) If your home was built in the 1970s your sewer cleanout may be a cast iron pipe. Custom-built or very high-end homes may have copper cleanouts (the rest of the plumbing system will be copper as well.)

If you don’t find your sewer cleanout outside, you should check inside. Somewhere along your foundation or sticking out of a wall in a bathroom, utility room, garage, or other space, should be that same kind of pipe.

Finally, if you don’t find a cleanout around the perimeter of your home or inside of your home, there is a chance that is it buried somewhere in your yard. We don’t recommend you go looking for it yourself, but you can enlist the help of your plumber.

Why are Sewer Cleanouts Important?

Whenever possible, your plumber wants to avoid making a mess in your home. The sewer cleanout gives them a convenient access point to run things like camera equipment, plumbing snakes or hydro jetters into your home’s drains. If your home didn’t have a sewer cleanout, your plumber would have only two other access point options before they had to start ripping up the ground or your drywall:

  • The roof vent: All homes have plumbing vents up on the roof. They allow gases to vent out instead of ending up in your home. Your plumber in Discovery Bay can run equipment down through them, but if the problem is in the drain, that won’t help. The roof and the drain are too far away, and some equipment just won’t reach.
  • Any toilet: Technically, your plumber can access your drains through the toilet. The catch is, they way to take out the toilet to do so, and then put it back after. That’s a hassle for you.

There are also situations where the municipality may need to use your sewer cleanout to access the sewer main.