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Question DetailsAsked on 3/20/2016

Could not having a cap on my sewer cleanout pipe cause water to leak into yard. No water is coming the house.

We found out there is no cover at all on the sewer cleanout pipe sticking up in the yard. We have a little water and there was mush of toilet paper. We have tried running a snake through it but pulled nothing out. Could we just need a cap or is there maybe a blockage. No water is backing up into our house toilets flush fine and sinks drain fine. Also we have city sewage not a septic tank.

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1 Answer


The cleanout over is usually just a slip-on or threaded cap or plug or a rubber expansion plug - generally (except with pumped pressure sewer systems) does not have to be waterproof because it should sit several feet above the sewer line. Cap is there just to keep animals/people from catching foot in pipe and to prevent debris entry and kids from dropping rocks in it.

If you have sewage coming out there it almost certainly means you have a partial backup in the sewer line downflow of that point - or if on a septic system could mean your septic system is overfull or backing up, though that obviously is not a consideration in your case. So - sounds like you discovered it in time - could be a matter of hours to months till it forms a backup that comes back into your house - you can never tell.

Generally, a blockage will get progressively worse until you get a backup into the lowest elevation drain in the house - commonly a floor drain or tub/shower.

I would recommend calling a Sewer Cleaning contractor to have your sewer line routed out. If it has not been done in the last 10-20 years I would recommend a full line full-diameter scraper routing - from inside the house (usually by removing a toilet) out to the outside cleanout, then reentaering there and routing to the street sewer. This cleans out the built-up accumulation of soap scum, fiber, and grease as well as any roots. Commonly needed about every 20 years in a house with fairly frequent hot showers and laundry loads and not a lot of food through garbage disposer or grease down the drain. Can run as little as 10 years or less (especially in cold ground areas, which promotes grease congealing in the lines) in houses with infrequent large flows, little hot water use, or food and grease going down drain.

Here is a typical picture of what a line can look like when it is starting to experience partial blockage backup from clogging -

Of course, tree roots growing in the line can cause blockages every couple of years to less depending on case if they are not regularly controlled with root killer once they first become a problem and are first routed out.

I always recommend getting the contractor to bring the sewer camera (color MUCH better for seeing problems) - most will agree to do so at no charge if it is not needed - so it is there is he hits broken pipe, heavy roots, or other obstruction which should be looked at and located for possible repair. Having it available can save you $50-100 typically if needed.

Many sewer cleaners use pressure jet cleaning rather than mechanical cable routers. They are less damaging for clay tile sewers and metal sewers that are heavily corroded, but in my opinion generally do not do as good a cleaning job. If a jet cleanear is used I strongly recommend going that route ONLY if it has an onboard camera, so after the cleaning pass as it is pulled back you can see any missed areas and get them rejetted while pulling back - otherwise you don't know if there were significant skips or not.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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