What to do if your house has no sewer cleanout

If you have come home to a sewer backup, it can be pretty devastating. What’s even more devastating is if a plumber comes to fix the problem but can’t find the sewer cleanout. Something even more devastating than this is trying to sell your home but failing to do so because a private inspection revealed that a plumber couldn’t locate a sewer cleanout on your property. So, what can you do if your home doesn’t have a sewer cleanout?

What to do if your house has no sewer cleanout

There are two things to do when you suspect that your home doesn’t have a sewer cleanout. One is for you or a plumber to search for it on the property underground. Sewer cleanouts should always be visible on your property. However, it may have become buried over time. Another thing you can do is install a new system.

Either of these methods may be costly. However, what’s even more expensive is sewer backup. Not only will you have to pay to have the sewage problem fixed, but you will also have to pay to have all areas of the home affected by the sewage replaced. Insurance may cover this issue, but if it doesn’t for any reason, you are looking at a very pricey issue on hand.


What are Sewer Cleanouts and What Do They Do?

With all this talk about sewer cleanouts, you probably are wondering what a sewer cleanout is. If you have walked around on your property and noticed a protruding white pipe near your home’s foundation or the street in front of your home, that’s a sewer cleanout. A sewer cleanout may also be located underneath a grate. You probably came in close contact with it when you were mowing your lawn or doing something else in your yard.

Sewer cleanout pipe

These pipes are usually a plumber’s salvation. When they see them on your property, they can quickly get to the root of your plumbing problems. Once they locate the sewer cleanout, a plumber will typically run a camera through the pipe to find out what is causing issues with your plumbing. The problems that blocked sewer cleanouts cause can be vast, including flooding sewage into your home, slow water removal through pipes, flooding in your yard, and other annoying, costly headaches.

If a plumber can’t locate a sewer cleanout, they still will be able to do their job, but it will take more effort. If you don’t have a sewer cleanout, a plumber may have to access your pipes by removing your toilet or going up on your roof to clean your pipes. Using either of these methods to fix your clog issue translates into more labor charges for you. Therefore, it would be ideal if your home has a sewer cleanout.

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Most homes should have a sewer cleanout installed because most states require them by law. However, if your state doesn’t require it or you live in a very old home, then this may be why you can’t find one on your property. Just because you don’t have one doesn’t mean that you should disregard it. Having one installed on your property can minimize a lot of financial issues in the long term.

Before attempting to get a sewer cleanout installed, it may be a good idea to find out the actual reason why you don’t have one. A more simple reason you don’t have one on your property is that your community uses some private system to get rid of sewage. Therefore, you won’t need to have one placed on your property. But in most cases, if you’re community is connected to public sewage systems, and you don’t see one on your property, now would be a good time to invest in one.

How to Check To See If Your House Has A Sewer Cleanout

A sewer cleanout shouldn’t be too hard to locate on your property. Of course, calling a plumber will help you find it quickly because they know what they look like and where they are typically installed. However, if you are a bit curious and want to do your due diligence as a DIYer by going on a scavenger hunt to locate it, you’re free to do so.

If you know for a fact that your community is connected to public sewers, then you should have a sewer cleanout or several on your property. You can start by searching near the foundation of your home. If one is installed, you will see it outside near the foundation where your bathroom is located.

Your home’s sewer cleanout will typically be a white pipe protruding from the ground with a cap on it that you could trip over if you are not careful. However, it may be another color, or it may even be below the ground underneath a colored grate. Upon lifting the grate, you will see the pipe. The grate is there typically to keep the pipe from becoming a trip hazard or being easily manipulated by someone.

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Sometimes your sewer cleanout may be located within your home. So, if you can’t find it outside your property, you may want to check inside before assuming that you don’t have one. If it is located inside your house, you will likely find it in one of your bathrooms near the toilet. It could also be in your garage. One more place that the sewer cleanout may be located is in your basement. This is particularly true if you live in a house in a colder climate. It will stick out of the basement floor near the foundation wall. Also, if you have a huge home, you may have more than one on the property.

What to Do When Your Home Does Not Have A Sewer Cleanout

If you have gone on a scavenger hunt and have checked everywhere on your property and can’t find a sewer cleanout, then it may be safe to say that you don’t have one. However, if you do have one and you have an older house, then it may have gotten buried at some point before you purchased the property.

If you don’t have a sewer cleanout or it is buried somewhere on your property, it would be wise to either revive the buried one or get one installed. It wouldn’t be a good idea to disregard it, however. This is not one of those situations where the adage “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” or “you can’t miss what you never had” applies. Not addressing this issue once you realize it can lead to costly plumbing problems in the future. Not only this, if you happen to face a sewer backup, these sewer problems will create other expensive issues within the home involving cleaning up the mess.

Plumbing, especially plumbing outside of your home and connected to the main system, is best left in the hands of experts. It’s one thing to break a pipe in your own home and have to fix it. But it is an entirely different matter if you break or damage the cities pipes. You may be a very knowledgeable DIYer in plumbing, but if you don’t have a license to do the work, you may have to pay a fine. So, in this instance, it’s best to let the experts do the work. And if they allow you to watch, by all means, have at it. After that, if you want to do your own work in the future, get a license.

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Reviving a Buried System

If your sewer cleanout has been buried and not in use for years, it may be old and corroded, mainly if made of cast-iron pipes. A plumber may be able to revive the buried system, but they will most likely have to replace all the pipes as if they were installing a new system.

Installing a New System

If neither you nor the plumber can find any signs of a sewer cleanout on the property, then you will likely have to have one installed. If your home was built before 1978, it is a good chance that you don’t have one and never had one because they weren’t required. But to be extra sure, you can check property records to see if one is located on the property’s plot plan.

Once a plumber has done everything to ensure that you don’t have a sewer cleanout on the property, he will begin the installation process. This starts with locating the main sewer line by using a camera to find it. When the pipe is located, the plumber will have the ground dug up to find the pipe. Next, he will cut into the existing pipe and connect the new sewer cleanout.

Sewer cleanout camera

When the plumber has finished and the inspector has ensured that the connection has been done correctly, he will have the soil replaced. The plumber may install one cleanout. However, most properties have two, with one usually the lower cleanout located near the property line and an upper cleanout near the house.