It’s happened to almost everyone. You are doing the dishes or taking a shower and, suddenly, the water refuses to drain. You try some drain cleaner or even a short drain “snake” but you are unable to get to the root of the problem. Professional plumbers will tell you to access the “clean out” and remedy the blockage from there. But you may ask, “What is the cleanout and where is it located?”
Plumbing Tip #1 – Recognize a Cleanout
Sewer cleanouts are an entry point into the plumbing system that allows you or your professional plumber to more directly access the problem area. There are cleanouts located throughout a plumbing system. For example, underneath many sinks, there is a plug with a square-shaped nipple that can be removed to clear any blockages in the drain. The same is true at the rear of many bathtubs.
Plumbing Tip #2 – Locate the Main Cleanout
There is also a sewer clean out that allows access to the main drain that runs underneath your house. There are many cases where a house will have a drainage issue but the problem is non-specific. That is, no specific drain is problematic but they all drain slowly. In this case, the blockage is most probably in the main drainage pipe.
We would recommend hiring a professional plumbing company to have this work done. Not only will they be able to clear the main drain, most will use a camera and be able to tell what the root of the problem was. When calling to set an appointment the plumbing company may ask you to locate the main cleanout. It will be located somewhere on your property usually between the house and the street. The cap could be white or metal and will resemble the caps shown in these two pictures.
Plumbing Tip #3 – Understand the Advantages
There are several advantages to a clean out. First, they allow direct access to the problem so you do not have to thread the auger through a series of S-bends to get to the problem. This also increases the efficiency of the equipment. Secondly, they are usually strategically placed to reduce the amount of waste water that ends up in your home and on you. This is an important consideration for the DIYer. Lastly, they allow you to eliminate, with a little time and effort, all but the most serious of drainage service calls.