The sewer cleanout is an important, if often unnoticed, part of modern homes in America. These humble plumbing components can save you a lot of money, time and stress should there be a clog in your sewer lines. That is why you should make an effort to protect them and know where they are located in case you or a plumber needs them. Here is more information about cleanouts, how to locate them, and how to keep them maintained:
What cleanouts do
Sewer cleanouts are dedicated access points for the insertion of cleaning or inspection tools into sewer lines. Though residential sewer cleanouts are straightforward in concept, they can be constructed in a variety of configurations and located in various spots around a home's interior and exterior. Typically, cleanouts are attached to sewer lines in one of three ways:
T-configuration – this setup utilizes a tee-shaped connector where the sewer line runs horizontally through the bottom of the tee, and the cleanout access pipe runs vertically from the tee. This pipe can can be various lengths depending upon the distance from the sewer line to the surface. T-configuration cleanouts are simple with only one special connector needed; however, the 90 degree corner between the access pipe and the sewer line makes inserting a cleaning tool somewhat difficult.
Y-configuration – this cleanout utilizes a wye-shaped connector where the sewer line runs through the bottom of the wye in a horizontal direction. The wye-shaped connection intersects the line at a 45 degree angle, and then using curved elbow connectors and a length of access pipe, goes straight up to the surface. These connections use more special connectors than T-configuration cleanouts, but they make insertion of cleaning tools easier since they form a curved access to the sewer line.
Line cap or plug – a line cap or plug lies directly on the sewer line itself; this provides the closest direct access to sewer lines, but they are only practical on exposed sewer lines in basements or anywhere else a line isn't buried in the ground.
Locate your cleanouts
An important task for every homeowner is knowing where the sewer cleanouts are on their property. If you don't know where your cleanouts are located, then you should make it a priority to find them. You don't want to spend valuable time searching for cleanouts in situations when they are urgently needed.
Finding them can be a bit tricky at times, but there are a few clues that can help you identify cleanouts. Here are some characteristics regarding their appearance and location:
Cleanouts are often near the edges of your home – houses typically are built with cleanouts within approximately three feet of the exterior walls. You may also find a cleanout approximately 100 feet from your home's exterior or near the edge of your property line.
Cleanouts can be covered or uncovered– cleanout covers are usually a shade of green, and they are also marked as "sewer line" or "sewer". However, many sewer cleanouts don't have special covers, but use simple pipe caps that unscrew.
Cleanouts may be in your basement – in many areas, sewer lines run through basements, and the cleanouts are often placed on the lines inside the basement.
Maintain your cleanouts
Taking care of sewer line cleanouts is not a difficult or time-consuming task. There are just a couple of simple things you should do to keep your cleanouts maintained and to protect your plumbing:
Keep your cleanouts covered – always keep your cleanouts appropriately sealed with a screw cap or other closure. Uncovered cleanouts allow organic materials and storm water to enter your sewer line, and neither of these are appropriate for a sanitary sewer system; dirt and debris can accumulate inside the cleanout or clog your sewer lines. In addition, some small animals may seek refuge inside your sewer lines, and an open cleanout creates a convenient entry point for them.
Don't use your cleanouts as a disposal point – it is tempting to dump things into a cleanout since it supplies direct access to the sewer line, but you should always adhere to the same guidelines that govern what you would flush or drain from your home. Never pour oil or other hazardous chemicals into a cleanout, and also be sure that you don't insert solid materials such as plant matter or leaves.
For more information, check out sites like http://www.drainorooter.com.