Broken Sewer Line Repair Are Major Plumbing Issues

Sewer Line Cleanouts and Laterals Play A Significant Role In Your Plumbing System

Big B's Plumbing - Your Plumber for Life!

Every house should have a cleanout, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Many sewer line cleanouts are challenging to find, especially in older homes that are more than 40 years old. In many cases, they’ve been buried or concreted over for aesthetic reasons. In addition, many of our state and city ordinances weren’t in place 30 or 40 years ago. As a result, many homes didn’t have sewer pipe cleanouts. One person we spoke to said, “My husband didn’t know where it was either since we’ve just moved in. We looked at the home inspection report, which was never mentioned in the plumbing section.”

Your Sewer Line Cleanouts Are Connected to Your Sewer Lateral

Your cleanouts are connected to your sewer lateral, also known as a sewer main, sewer line, or sewer drainpipe. The lateral gets linked to all your wastewater pipes in your home. For example, your toilets, showers, bathtubs, and sink drains will connect at some point to your main sewer line. Your private property includes the whole length of the sewage lateral that runs from your house to where it connects to your city’s sewer main located under the roadway. The cleanout connects within your main sewer line, giving easy access for your plumber to clear a clog.

The Property Owner Is Responsible for Maintenance

Maintaining your own sewer lateral is the responsibility of the homeowner. A well-maintained sewer lateral entails keeping it free of obstructions, such as grease, roots, and sludge. The maintenance needed will depend greatly on the age of the lateral and the type of pipe; for example, cast iron or clay vs. plastic. 

Your Sewer Line Cleanouts Should be In A Prominent Place

With healthy joints and seals, the more recent plastic laterals can work without issues for many years. Additionally, with the newer PVC or ABS sewer pipes, the cleanout is usually in a prominent place on the side of the house, garage, or yard. However, older laterals made of clay or cast iron may have root incursion or degraded areas, necessitating more regular cleaning and a regular periodic inspection.

tree roots in sewer line

(FOG) No Fats, Oils, Or Grease Should Ever Go Down Your drain 

The most frequent cause of drainage issues is a clog or obstruction in the lateral. One way to minimize the problem is by paying careful attention to what you’re putting down the toilet, bathroom, and kitchen sink drains. Also, remember what you put in your drains, and garbage disposal could reduce or even eliminate such issues. Here is an acronym for you to remember what NOT to put down our drains (FOG) for no fats, oils, or grease because they can clog sewage mains. In the case where a lateral is blocked already, it’s important to have easy access to the clog through your cleanout.

Your Plumber Will Have Easy Access To Your Cleanouts

There’s a strong probability you have some kind of clog in your lateral if your drains begin to flow slowly. The clog should be removed by a certified plumber or drain cleaning expert. Your technician may want to run a camera inspection to ensure the pipe is not damaged. If the lateral is damaged, you’ll need to fix the broken pipe ASAP. Although in most instances, your technician will access the problem from your cleanout, it will reduce the pressure on the line and give easy access to the break or obstruction. As the property owner, you are responsible for any lateral issues.

Sewer Line Cleanout

Homeowners Living In An Older Home May Not Know Where To Locate The Cleanout

Most homeowners have no idea what sewage cleanouts are or where to locate them. Although, the first time they heard the term “sewer cleanout” was probably their first call to their plumbing company. Some plumbing companies will ask where your sewer cleanout is located so they can have access in the case of a clogged drain. Any backed-up sewage lines in a home will cause a mess and be a horrible health risk. Every homeowner should know where their cleanouts are, especially in the case of a plumbing emergency. Sewage cleanouts are an important aspect of your home’s waste disposal and plumbing system, and every landlord should also make their tenants aware of their location. 

Your Cleanout Gives Your Plumber Easy Access To A Clogged Pipe

A clog in your home’s sewer systems could result in a major problem to your home’s plumbing system and, in some cases, leave fixtures inoperable until the clog gets removed. The cleanout allows your plumbing technician easy access to perform a camera inspection before they snake or hydro jet your clogged drain. 

Home Inspection Reports Must Include Cleanouts

If you’re moving into a home for the first time, ensure the home inspection report includes the cleanout. This is not a problem in newer homes because sewer cleanouts usually get exposed on the side of the house or in the garage. However, you’ll discover that older homes have a cleanout on the roof. Also known as the venting system, its purpose is to perform two functions. First, the vents will release sewer gases while being connected to a vertical waste pipe. Second, the same vent pipe gets used as a cleanout.

Clearing A Sewer Line From The Roof

Clearing the sewer line from the roof’s venting system can be achieved in the same manner as a standard sewer drain. The exception is that it will require a plumbing technician on the roof and the ground. The technician on the ground will watch for overflowing toilets and drains while staying connected to the technician on the roof. In most cases, the average do-it-yourselfer can clear a drain, but in the case of a roof venting system, it’s best to leave it up to a plumbing expert.

Some Old Homes Don’t Have Easy Access To A Cleanout

In rare cases, you may live in a home without a cleanout. That usually means your sewer line is probably cast iron. It’s very unlikely a house with a PVC sewer line does not have a cleanout. While installing a PVC or ABS cleanout on an old cast iron sewer line is possible, we don’t recommend it, especially if the line shows signs of corrosion. A cast iron sewer line over 60 years old will probably need replacing sooner rather than later. 

Installed New Sewer Line Cleanout

At an older home in Escondido, California, the customer had a sewer line back up, and the house had no sewer line cleanouts. Big B’s Plumbing located and installed a new sewer cleanout by tapping into the old line. They decided on a two-way cleanout. It didn’t cost the customer any more and allowed two access points to the sewer line for any future backups.

If you live in Murrieta, Temecula, the Inland Empire, or North San Diego, Big B’s Plumbing has you covered for all your plumbing issues. That includes adding new cleanouts and repairing sewer laterals. Call today you’ll always get the service you need. A+ rated with the Better Business Bureau #986152.


Brandon and Family, Licensed plumbing contractor

Family Owned & Operated

My name is Brandon Mageno. I'm the founder, President, and CEO of Big B's Plumbing Company. As the founder, I never thought about being average or good. My passion for being the best plumbing company in Southern California has always been the same. Providing plumbing services to this great county is simply in my DNA. Nothing makes me happier than to see a satisfied customer. Learn More About Us

1 thought on “Sewer Line Cleanouts and Laterals Play A Significant Role In Your Plumbing System”

  1. Oh, hello there. When I read this article, I couldn’t help myself from thinking about my cousin who intends to upgrade the sewage system for her apartment. You were spot on for mentioning that through proper cleanouts our sewer line would be so much more accessible which can be really helpful whenever it gets clogged. I’ll certainly make sure she notices this particular detail when calling a repairer to look further into the matter some time soon.

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