What is the Purpose of a Drain Cleanout?

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Blog

You may have noticed this 4-inch pipe sticking out of the ground about 7 inches high with a threaded cap in your yard.   What is that thing?   This is the drain cleanout or sewer line cleanout.   Regardless of what you call it, the purpose of this cleanout remains the same.

The sewer line cleanout provides an easily accessible entry point to the main sewer line between your home and the septic tank. This sewer line access port is to provide plumbers as well as ‘do it yourselfers’ easy access to the sewer line to perform a visual inspection of the pipe or to address a clog. Even if you as the homeowner don’t ever see yourself performing this inspection on your own, it is good to know the location of this drain cleanout in the event of an emergency.

The benefit of having a sewer line drain cleanout is not only the ease of accessibility but many plumbers will offer a lower cost for their sewer inspection for reducing the amount of time required to perform the inspection.

It is possible that your home doesn’t have an accessible sewer line cleanout, or it is possible that it has been buried under landscaping materials or even behind bushes. In the event that you do not have a cleanout available outside your home, the inspection may have to begin from inside. If the plumber has to cut into the pipe on the outside of the house this would be an opportune time to have a sewer line cleanout installed. In case you must gain access to the pipe again in the future this will save time and money.

A typical drain cleanout pipe is 4 inches in diameter and usually white or black in color. These pipes are constructed of plastic which eliminates several corrosion issues that metal and cast-iron pipes had in the past. You may also identify drain pipe cleanouts inside you home and with 2-inch pipe diameters as well.

Although these drain lines and sewer lines are not pressurized like your clean water supply to the house, it is always wise to consider what PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) should be worn when accessing these pipes. The drain lines are a conduit system utilizing the energy resulting from a difference in elevation to remove unwanted water and waste from sinks, showers and toilets. For this reason, you may actually have multiple smaller cleanouts within your house and leading up to the main sewer line that exists into the septic tank.

When removing the threaded cover of the sewer drain line slowly. There could be wastewater that could spill or spray out because of a clog. If removing the cover inside your house it may be wise to have a bucket or a trash can with a plastic liner to catch any over spill.

Once the cap is removed you can now introduce the sewer camera inside the pipe to start your inspection. There are many options to consider when selecting a sewer camera as these inspection cameras vary in price as well as features. For those plumbing professionals that are looking for a ‘one size fit’s all’ system they may chose a dual camera system like the Wohler VIS 500. This system offers interchangeable 1.5-inch diameter camera head with pan & tilt features and a 1-inch straight view for smaller pipes. Regardless of choice, it is now industry standard for this inspection camera system to be water resistant as well as offer image capture and video recording.

If you have any questions on which sewer camera is right for you and your specific application, please reach out to our trained inspection camera professionals.

Wöhler VIS 700 HD-Video Inspection System

Now that you have gained access to the sewer lines you can easily complete your inspection. Once the inspection has been completed you can secure the drainpipe cap back into place. It is important to not use any permanent glues or adhesives when replacing the threaded cap. You can use Teflon tape or other non-permanent sealers. If the drain pipe cleanout was accessed inside your house you will want to confirm that there isn’t any active leaking was the threaded cap has been replaced.