How to Find an Exterior Sewer Cleanout

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All home plumbing fixtures have drain pipes that connect to a single sewer pipe that exits the home and flows into the main city or county sewer system. The single pipe that starts at the home and flows to the street is installed horizontally at a slight slope to allow for drainage. Occasionally the horizontal section develops a clog or tree roots grow into it. To identify the problem, open the exterior sewer cleanout in the yard.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Locate where the main sewer pipe exits your home by looking in the basement for a white, or metal 4-inch diameter pipe running to an exterior wall. If you don’t have a basement, enter the crawl space of your home to try to locate the pipe. Locate the side of the house the pipe exists from, which is where you will start the inspection.

  • Walk to the appropriate side of the home where the pipe exits and look closely at the ground for a white plastic pipe or a steel pipe that is 4 inches in diameter and extends up from the ground. The height of the pipe varies greatly and may even be flush with the ground surface.

  • Walk toward the city street as you continue the ground inspection, since the cleanout pipe will be located somewhere between the house and the street. If you don't see the cleanout pipe, perform the procedure on all other sides of the home.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don’t see a sewer cleanout on the exterior of your home, it may be located in the basement of the home, or you may not have one at all. Call a plumber to help identify the location of the cleanout.
  • To open the sewer cleanout, place a wrench on the square peg on top of the cap and turn it counterclockwise with force.

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