Nicolette Forbes

By: Nicolette Forbes on May 18th, 2022

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What is a Clean Out?

Plumbing | Drains

Is the waste from your plumbing backing up into your home and you want to fix it but you can’t? It  could be because you don’t have what is called a ‘clean out.’ But what even is a clean out? 

Here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, protecting your home is a top priority. Since 2007, we have been dedicated to providing the best service to our clients for all their plumbing needs and concerns, including clean outs.

In this article, we’re going to discuss what a clean out is, along with its installation process, its cost, and whether or not it is the best option for you.

So without further adieu, let’s jump right in!


What is a Clean Out? 

A clean out is the access point for a sewer line and is considered a means to access the sewer line for cleaning and unclogging. Not every home has a clean out, but if you do have a clean out, it is usually found within three inches of the edge of your home or building. It is installed outside the home to easily access your main sewer line, which is the main drainage line leaving your home. 


If you don’t currently have a clean out, getting one installed can help you get to the mainline quicker and easier which means that clearing stoppages will also be easier. 

When your main line has an issue, whether that is a clog or roots in the line, your entire house can quickly back up, causing all plumbing to break down and become useless. A clean out allows us or your local plumber to quickly and easily access the line with a special camera and fix the issue without dragging dirty plumbing equipment through your home.

After the plumber knows the clog type and location, the plumber can choose the right equipment to remove the blockage. They will run the camera through the drain line again after the work is done to make sure the clog is completely gone.


Are Clean Outs Necessary? 

We mentioned earlier that some homes do not have a clean out, which is normal. But are clean outs necessary? 

While they are not required to have for your home, we highly recommend having a clean out installed for your home for easy access to your sewer line if anything were to go wrong. 

Benefits to having a clean out for your home:

  • Stops Frequent Drain Problems

Having a clean out can put an end to frequent drain problems. With a clean out, your plumber or technician can use a camera to easily find the specific problem and prevent it from stopping up again. 

  • Drain Specific Clean Outs

If you do not want a clean out for your entire home, you can always have a drain-specific clean out installed in your house. With drain-specific clean outs, repairs can be much easier for your plumber or technician. Most newer homes have drain-specific clean outs in places such as your kitchen and laundry room.

  • Increases Home Resale Value

If you have a clean out installed in your home, it could increase the resale value of your house. This is because clean outs make home inspections easier because of how easy it is to send a camera through the main sewer line.

If you have a clean out, any waste that is causing a stoppage in your home will be cleared outside of your home. 

But what if you don’t have a clean out for your home? 


Don’t Have a Clean Out? Here Are Some Options

If your home doesn't have a clean out, ​​you can still remove back ups, but it can sometimes take longer and is more difficult to get done. There are two ways for a plumber or technician to clear out a stoppage in your plumbing system if you do not have a clean out. Your technician can go through a toilet or your roof.

  1. Toilet

If you’re experiencing a stoppage, a technician can partially access the main sewer line through your toilet. They would have to remove the toilet and then use a drain machine to remove the clog. While this may work temporarily, this option is not recommended as the clog may not be removed as thoroughly because the pipes beneath the toilet are smaller and the number of turns inside the pipes.

The loops will create a lot of friction on your technician’s equipment and ultimately damage them. 


  1.   Roof

Gaining access to the main sewer line through the roof is another way to clear out a stoppage in your home. Again, while it is possible, it can get tricky to get a camera through because of the many turns in the pipes. Unfortunately, when you opt for this method, the camera or equipment can't reach the main sewer line, meaning the backup can't be taken care of by the technician.


If you do not have a clean out and are experiencing a stoppage in your home, things like the shower, kitchen sink, and toilet can back up into your home instead of outside of your home. 


Installing A Clean Out

A clean out plays a key role in your plumbing. So you must be wondering now, “well, if I don’t have one, what’s the installation process?” 

Putting a clean out in your home can take one to two days. However, how long the installation process will take depends on where it is installed. Installing a clean out will go something like this: 

  1. Technicians will first have to locate the main sewer line outside the home and dig up your old underground pipes. 
  2. Then they will measure the pipes to find the best place to install the clean out.
  3. After attaching the clean out, the cap on the device will be boxed in a container so that the pipe can be buried.

Installing a clean out can cost between $1,900 to $5,900, depending on the location of the installation. 

A clean out should be installed by a licensed and insured plumber. This is not a D-I-Y job as you could potentially damage your main sewer line which could cost you thousands to repair. 


Cleaning Up and ‘Cleaning Out’

To quickly recap, clean outs make it easier to fix clogged pipes. They also make it easier to identify problems in your drain line that runs from your home to the city sewer. By having a clean out, you can easily identify any problems with your sewer line and how to avoid problems in the future. While not having one is possible, installing a clean out is highly recommended.

Are you experiencing backups in your home? Check out our article on how to identify the type of backup you’re having, how to clear it, and how to prevent it in the future.

And as always, we here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing are dedicated to giving you all the facts and answering any questions you may have so that you can make the best decision possible for you and your home. If you have any further questions on clean outs or are experiencing any issues with your plumbing and live in the L.A. area, click on the ‘Book’ link below or contact one of our office team members at (310)-853-8690 to further discuss the best option for you.