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What Is a Sewer Drain Cleanout?

Sewer drain cleanout in the yard of Jackson, MS house.

Your home’s drainage system represents a complex network of interconnected pipes that help dispose of wastewater in a sanitary manner. When your sewer system functions correctly, it’s a finely tuned machine that works year-round without interruption. However, if you’re dealing with a clogged sewer line, your home can face multiple problems that need immediate attention. 

Homeowners looking for ways to combat clogged sewer pipes might reach for DIY remedies to clear the blockage. These methods can often do more harm than good and cause significant lasting damage. Regular sewer drain cleanout maintenance can stop the significant clogs before they start. But what exactly is a cleanout, and how often should you get it done?

The Basics of a Sewer Drain Cleanout

Every private sewer system links to the municipal lines and represents one of the most likely places a clog can develop. At this junction point, plumbers and sewer professionals direct access to inspect clogged drains.

With a properly installed cleanout, your plumbers have a direct access point to your sewer pipes and can get a closer look at the situation without digging up your lines. This allows them to attack the problem head-on with less effort but more efficiency. However, not every home has an easily accessible sewer drain cleanout, making it more difficult to figure out the direct cause of your clogged shower drains, backed-up kitchen sink, and more. 

How Do I Locate My Sewer Cleanout?

Now that you know what a sewer drain cleanout is, you need to know how to tell if your home has one. Sewer cleanouts can come in indoor and outdoor varieties, and each has a distinctive look that makes them easier to identify. 

Sewer drain cleanout with white cap in Jackson, MS, backyard.

The indoor cleanouts, for example, are typically made from black or white PVC pipe and are roughly three to six inches in diameter. Locating this structure can be as easy as following the drainage pipes to the main sewer line, finding a T or Y-shaped pipe outfitted with a cap or plug, or checking your bathrooms, utility rooms, or garages. 

On the other hand, outdoor cleanouts can require a bit more detective work. If you have a septic tank, you can start there and walk about halfway between your tank and your home; your cleanout should be close by. You should also remove any furniture or obstacles in your backyard while looking for the cleanout — they could easily cover up the access point. 

You won’t be able to clear sewer clogs on your own even now that you know where the cleanout is located, but you certainly have a better idea of how your plumbing system functions. Most plumbers use the cleanout for hydro jetting and camera inspections. 

Hydro jet being used to clean sewer in Jackson, MS, backyard.

What Is Hydro Jetting?

Hydro jetting provides homeowners with a safe and effective method of pipe cleaning without needing to dig up the entire system. Using a powerful stream of water, hydro jetting blasts everything in its path. Different nozzles affect the strength of the stream and can be used for different types of clogs. 

Plumber inserting sewer inspection camera in the toilet to locate the sewer clog.

How Can a Camera Inspection Help?

One of the most minimally invasive options available to homeowners is sewer line camera inspections that provide a clear view inside pipes without digging everything up. They are a useful preventative tool in every plumber’s arsenal to get in front of potentially damaging blockages. 

How Do Plumbers Treat Sewer Clogs Without a Cleanout?

While a sewer drain cleanout makes dealing with clogs easier, it’s not impossible to access the sewer line and find the source of the clog without one. Your plumber has two potential access points they can use to get a closer look at your pipes — roof vents and your toilets. 

What Is a Roof Vent?

The roof vent allows gas from your sewer lines to safely escape from your home, so the strong odors don’t permeate your home. Professional plumbers can access your sewer line through the roof vent; however, camera inspection and any hydro jets will have a more difficult time maneuvering through the pipes. 

Accessing the Lines Through the Toilet

If the roof vent doesn’t provide enough direct access to identify the location of the clogs, your plumber can go through the bathroom toilet to get a better look. They’ll remove the toilet and send the camera or toilet snake through the hole to pinpoint where the clog is located. 

Choose Environment Masters for Your Sewer Cleaning!

Can’t find the sewer cleanout? Not 100% sure if you have one? Don’t worry! Environment Masters has expertly trained staff to help. We will determine where your sewer drain cleanout is hiding before starting the sewer cleaning service. Our team is ready for any challenge your home presents. Contact us to schedule your next appointment today!

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