What’s the Role of a Cleanout in Your Home’s Plumbing System?

what is a clean out

Plumbing systems are the backbone of functional and comfortable living spaces, from hot showers to clean drinking water.

However, these systems don’t run smoothly forever. Just like many things in our homes, they require a bit of fine-tuning and maintenance from time to time.

One way in particular, you can ensure your plumbing stays in tip-top shape is by maintaining your home’s sewer line. A cleanout can help do just that. It’s a convenient access point to your sewer line, giving plumbers a direct way to clear clogs, do inspections, and keep everything clean and flowing.

Regularly utilizing cleanouts keeps your plumbing cycle running smoothly and increases its longevity. Moreover, when wastewater moves properly, it eliminates the risk of seepage or foul odors from blockages.  

In this article, we’ll discuss what a sewer line cleanout is, how to tell if yours is blocked, and why it makes sense to hire professionals to take care of the repair process.

What is a Sewer Line Cleanout, and Why is it Important?

What’s the Role of a Cleanout in Your Home’s Plumbing System? 1

A sewer line cleanout is a plumbing installation that allows access to the pipes of a home’s plumbing system for maintenance or repairs.

The primary purpose of a cleanout is to provide easy access to the sewer line. It serves as a kind of “safety valve,” allowing plumbers to locate clogs and other blockages quickly and easily.

As a building’s wastewater flows through the sewer line, various solid materials can accumulate over time and cause blockages or clogs.

When such issues arise, the sewer line cleanout allows plumbers or maintenance personnel to access the sewer line directly. They then use specialized tools, such as drain snakes or hydro-jetting equipment, to remove the blockages effectively.

Where to Find Your Sewer Cleanouts

The location of your cleanout may vary. Inside, it’s often located near the main sewer line, such as in the basement or crawl space. Outside, it may be in the yard, usually near the building’s foundation.

Cleanouts are a cost-effective and convenient solution to inevitable blockages. Without them, plumbers would have to break open plumbing lines, which can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

Signs of a Blocked or Malfunctioning Cleanout

signs of blocked sewer line cleanout

A malfunctioning or clogged sewer line cleanout is an unwanted ordeal that requires immediate attention. If you’re unsure whether your cleanout is blocked, there are signs to look out for—both before and after the situation has progressed.

  1. Slow Drainage: One of the earliest signs of a blocked cleanout is slow drainage in sinks, showers, or toilets. This could be due to accumulated debris, grease, or tree roots obstructing the sewer pipe.
  2. Gurgling Sounds: If you hear unusual gurgling sounds coming from multiple fixtures throughout your home, it could be a sign of a malfunctioning cleanout.
  3. Foul Odors: Unpleasant smells near drains are another early warning sign. If you notice a foul odor, it might be time to check your cleanout.
  4. Standing Water: Unexplained standing water is a clear indication of a potential blockage.
  5. Water Backing Up: If water starts backing up into your house, it’s a serious sign that your cleanout might be blocked.
  6. Basement Flooding: In more advanced cases, a blocked cleanout can lead to your basement flooding.

If any of these signs are observed, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly. Contacting a professional plumber to inspect and clear the sewer line cleanout can prevent further damage, sewage backups, and potential health hazards.

Regular plumbing maintenance and clearing of the cleanout can also help avoid major blockages and maintain the smooth operation of the plumbing system.

Importance of Hiring a Professional for Cleanout Installation and Repair Service

cleanout installation

When plumbing issues arise, it’s crucial to hire a professional plumbing service. Here’s why:

  1. Expertise and Experience: Professional plumbers have the knowledge and experience to handle a wide range of plumbing complications quickly and efficiently.
  2. Right Tools and Equipment: Unlike most homeowners, professional plumbers have the right tools and equipment at their disposal. This allows them to perform repairs, installations, and maintenance to high standards, prioritizing quality and safety.
  3. Understanding of Regulations: Professional plumbers are well-versed in the complexities of building codes, safety regulations, and industry standards. This ensures that tasks are executed safely and in compliance with local guidelines.
  4. Availability: Look for a professional plumbing service that’s available 24/7. In case of emergencies, they can offer prompt assistance, preventing significant inconveniences and damages caused by ignoring urgent plumbing problems.
  5. Preventive Maintenance: Regular maintenance of the sewer line cleanout by professionals can help to prevent costly repairs in the future, saving time and money for homeowners.
  6. Guaranteed Safety and Efficiency: A professional plumbing service guarantees the safety, efficiency, and longevity of your plumbing infrastructure. This benefits both the occupants and the property as a whole.

Remember, DIY solutions can be extremely difficult and even dangerous. Trusting professionals with your plumbing needs is the best way to ensure a well-functioning system.


Your sewer line cleanout is an essential part of your plumbing system, serving as a direct line of access. As such, it requires care and maintenance, so always keep an eye out for potential signs of malfunctions or clogs, including foul odors, standing water, sewage backups, or gurgling noises.

The quicker these problems are addressed, the better. A high-quality professional plumbing service is ideal for quickly diagnosing and resolving these issues.

If you’re in the Chicago area and you suspect (or know) that your cleanout needs maintenance, Chicago Sewer and Drain Pros has you covered. We offer 24/7 support and services like drain cleaning, sewer line repair, hydro jetting, and ejector pump installation.

Call us today at (844) 473-9377, or check out our website for a free estimate!

Avatar of Thomas Parra

Thomas Parra

Thomas Parra is the owner of Chicago Sewer and Drain Pros, a trusted plumbing company serving the Chicago area. With years of experience in the industry, Thomas and his team have established a reputation for providing reliable, efficient, and affordable plumbing solutions to both residential and commercial clients. His commitment to customer satisfaction and his expertise in all aspects of plumbing have made Chicago Sewer and Drain Pros a go-to choice for those seeking top-quality plumbing services.