Older homes featuring sewer lines NOT composed of PVC or ABS rarely featured cleanouts for maintenance. A cleanout is a piece of sewer line that juts up vertically in the home’s yard from the main and extends above the surface of the ground. It ties in with the main sewer line with a smooth angle to allow a drain cleaning machine to be run, clearing any blockages. The cleanout is capped with a removable piece to access the main line. Without one of these cleanouts, the only access to the main sewer line was by pulling a toilet and cleaning the main from the bathroom. Sometimes, if room in the crawlspace permits, the drain machine can be operated via a cleanout installed at the end of a mainline under the home. Even so, maintenance on a sewer line is much easier if performed through a yard-located cleanout. But what if none exist? We can fix that. Older homes often featured cast iron sewer lines, and were without any sort of cleanout feature. To install a cleanout in such a case, first the main sewer line must be reached. By digging down to the sewer line and clearing away all the dirt, the line can now be fully accessed to install a cleanout. In order to do this, a section of the old sewer line must first be removed, usually no more than two feet.
Then the new PVC cleanout fitting, called a “sweep ‘y’,” can be set in with fittings to adapt from PVC to cast iron. Then the vertical piece that will run above the ground’s surface is installed to whatever height or depth is necessary (anywhere from 2 feet all the way to over twenty feet). All parts are secured, and the hole is filled and graded smooth. Plumbing code now dictates that all new sewer lines be installed with two cleanouts; one near the house, and one near the curb.