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Blogs from January, 2021

Clogged drains are no fun to deal with. They can happen with virtually any of your plumbing fixtures and at virtually any time. However, your clog isn’t always conveniently and easily placed where it can be swiftly dealt with. In fact, clogs often form further down your lines, making it impossible for your average cleaning tool to reach it from your drain itself. To make matters worse, these further-away clogs can also back up additional fixtures and drains, creating a situation that can affect a larger portion of your property.

How can you easily and adequately deal with these sorts of clogs when you might not even know exactly where they are? As it turns out, you more than likely already have the solution installed in your home: drain cleanouts. Drain cleanouts are very much an unheralded hero of drain cleaning services, and they’re something a lot of people take for granted. However, despite this importance, they’re also a pretty common source of code violations as well.

What Is a Drain Cleanout?

A drain cleanout is an opening in your drain line that allows plumbers to feed drain cleaning tools into the line itself in order to attack clogs anywhere in your drain system. Cleanouts might be rather hard to spot—they’re frequently painted over and hidden in order to blend in with your home’s exterior or other features in the area. However, they are typically a segment of pipe that has a round cover roughly four to five inches in diameter sticking off of it. This round cover can be removed, giving you access to the inside of your drain line for at least several dozen feet in both directions.

What does this do for your home? It allows a plumber to feed a drain cleaning tool into the line from a more advantageous position. Many drain cleaning tools can only reach about 50 to 60 feet into a drain, and that isn’t nearly enough to cover some of the furthest reaches of your drain network. With strategically-placed cleanouts, every part of your drain lines can be properly serviced, meaning it’s faster, easier, cleaner, and safer to get rid of clogs without the extra strain on your lines themselves.

Where Are Drain Cleanouts Located?

Where to place cleanouts is a rather difficult decision for the person responsible for designing your drain system. Drain cleanouts need to be located where they can provide access to all of your drain lines. However, they also need to be located where they can be easily accessed, where they won’t endanger or interfere with other important systems in your home, and where they won’t stand out as a garish and unsightly feature in the middle of a space. For example, one common code violation with plumbing cleanouts is having them located too close to a major component of your electrical system, such as your main electrical panel. Electrical panels are typically located in storage closets, garages, or other areas of your home that might also have exposed drain lines running through them. That also makes them ideal for placing a cleanout. However, putting a cleanout near a panel means opening this cleanout could put your panel at risk, and that’s not something you want to do. If you have a cleanout in one of these inopportune or potentially dangerous places, you should have it relocated by a plumbing professional.

Despite their name, cleanouts also are not exactly sanitary. Because they provide access to your drain lines, that means they could be filled with raw sewage and plenty of types of waste that could flow down your drains. Opening a cleanout is generally not a pleasant experience for your nose, so many plumbing engineers will typically try to place any cleanouts in an exterior location. Likewise, cleaning up a mess outside is typically far easier and safer than trying to clean up a mess that a cleanout might make indoors.

How Many Do I Need?

One other common plumbing code violation is simply not having enough cleanouts to properly service your property. This isn’t all that uncommon in older homes, where plumbing codes at the time didn’t require cleanouts in the quantity that they do today. How many cleanouts should your property have? That depends on a few different factors, including the size of your home, where your drains are located, and a few other factors. However, your property should have the following:

  • A main sewer cleanout (typically located where your sewer main reaches the public sewer system). Surprisingly, some properties do not have a cleanout in this area.
  • In bathrooms or utility areas. Not all bathrooms or utility areas will have a cleanout, but some often will, as this is probably the best place to have a cleanout in an indoor setting. Check under your sink or near your toilet for it.
  • In warmer climates with slab-built homes (like we have here in the Los Angeles area), it’s not uncommon to have a drain cleanout located under a metal box in the ground somewhere near your home.

If you don’t have enough cleanouts, or you’re missing one of these important cleanouts in a place where one should be, give our plumbers a call and let us take care of the problem with a cleanout installation service.

For quality cleanout services you can count on, call H.L. Moe Co. at (818) 396-8002 today.