Do all homes have sewer clean-outs & where are they located?
When a clog occurs at your home or business it is good to know where the cleanout access is. A cleanout is the access point for a sewer line. A sewer line is a pipe that conveys all the waste from the various plumbing fixtures in a home or business. Most kitchen drains have their own and most sewer mains have theirs. It is basically a means to access the sewer line for cleaning and unclogging. It is necessary to know where they are located in the event of a clog because that is the best access to get to the drain line to unclog it. They should also be installed in an area that is easily accessible for equipment. The cleanout is typically within 3′ of the edge of a home or building, but that’s assuming there actually is one. If landscaping has been out over it then it can be a long process to locate without proper equipment. If a home was built before 1964, there is a good chance it doesn’t have one unless it was added since the home was built
Can I run a line down another drain instead of the sewer clean-out pipe?
You could, but you wouldn’t be able to use the right sized drain cleaning tools to fully unblock the line and thus a new clog would again appear. A recent customer didn’t know if their sewer line had one and a previous plumber could not find it when they had a clog a month ago. The previous plumber ran a cable from a smaller cleanout inside the home and was able to unclog the line but not clean the line. The difference is what is left behind when a cable too small for the pipe diameter to properly clean it is used. That is why the line clogged up again within a month of the first clog.
With our camera and locating equipment, we were able to locate where the sewer line exited the home and find the full-size cleanout for the sewer main. There is no real “rule of thumb” when it comes to where a sewer line exits a house and where the cleanout should be. There are good guesses an experienced plumber can make but there is no guaranteed method short of a camera and locator for doing this.
We located this cleanout in under an hour’s time because we followed the path of the camera in the sewer line and used a probe to confirm where it is. Because it was a couple inches below the surface, no one saw it. Now the customer has a clean line and we located the cleanout for her. As a side note, we determined that the line is partially broken right where it connects to the city sewer main and now the city will not only fix the break for the customer, they will also reimburse part of what she paid to have it unclogged. Definitely a win-win situation for the customer and us for being able to help and look like heroes.