Sewer line, outdoor drain cleanout

Sewer Cleanout: The Solution to Tree Root Blockage in Sewer Line

Sewer lines often become clogged with tree roots, which can cause sewage to back up into your home. A clogged sewer line can be a real hassle, not to mention a health hazard. If left untreated, the sewage could overflow into your home. Sewer line cleanouts are an easy and affordable way to prevent this from happening. In this article, we will explain how a sewer cleanout can benefit your Albany Park Chicago home.

What is a Sewer Line Cleanout?

A sewer line cleanout is a pipe that allows you to clean the sewer lines without having to go into the sewer itself. A cleanout will enable you to clear any blockages, preventing sewer backups.

Not all homes have a sewer cleanout. You can locate the sewer cleanout in the basement or outside near the sewer line.

Indoor Cleanout

Drain cleanouts located inside are most likely placed on the main sewage line. You can locate the cleanout before pipes leave your foundation. The cleanout connects to a T- or Y-shaped pipe fitting with a threaded plug and a square nut. You can also identify the cleanout by the plastic cap covering the square nut.

Outdoor Cleanout

You can find the drain cleanout between your home and municipal sewer line, or septic tank. These cleanouts are larger and have a cap in white or green.

Drain cleanout

How Does a Sewer Line Cleanout Work?

A sewer cleanout is a device installed in a sewer line to provide access for maintenance and repairs. This can be a simple PVC pipe with a lid or a more complex system with a trap door, manhole, and ladder. The sewer cleanout gives plumbers access to the sewer line and hard-to-reach obstructions.

A plumber can insert specialty tools into the cleanout to get direct access to the sewer line. These specialty tools include the following: plumbing snake, hydro jetter, and power rodder.

The plumber will insert snaking tools into the sewer line and use them to clear any obstructions. Jetting tools use high-pressure water to clear any obstructions. A plumber can also insert rodding tools into the sewer line and use them to break up any blockages.

Blockages may occur further down the sewage line and be difficult to access. A cleanout will allow the plumber to get closer to the problem and use these tools. Illinois Plumbing Code requires cleanout access to be installed so that a plumber can come to unclog your sewer if need be.

A drain cleanout also makes sewer camera inspections more accessible. Plumbers conduct camera inspections to inspect and detect broken sewer lines. The plumber will insert the camera cable to the cleanout to record the sewer line.

Signs of Sewer Line Obstructions

Grease buildup, sanitary napkins, paper towel buildup, and tree roots create obstructions. Signs you have an obstruction in your sewer pipes include:

  • Gurgling noises coming from your drains
  • Water backing up into your tub or shower when you flush the toilet
  • Water backing up into your sink when you run the dishwasher or washing machine

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to have a sewer cleanout installed as soon as possible. Only plumbing professionals will get the work done well.

Prevent Costly Damage to Your Sewer Lines

As already mentioned, cleanout is an effective method to clear any blockages in the main line. If you ignore blockages you can risk larger problems. For example, your sewer line can collapse which requires costly repairs. In other, cases sewer backup can become severe requiring extensive clean-up and sanitation.

This can save you money in the long run by preventing major problems before they have a chance to start.

Outdoor Drain Cleanout Located and Installed

Installing a sewer line cleanout is not a do-it-yourself project. You will need to call a professional plumber to come and install the cleanout for you.

The plumber will first assess the situation and determine the best location. The plumber will then dig a hole to access the sewer and install the cleanout.

Once the plumber installs the drain cleanout, the plumber can clear any blockages. This step will prevent sewer backups and overflowing into your home.

Main sewer line inside

Sewer Line Cleanout Installation in Albany Park Neighborhood

We were recently cleaning a sewer line in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. Our team received a call from a home located on Lawrence avenue with clogged drainage pipes.

The customer had the sewer line cleared but the issue kept occurring. The customer pointed us to the only direct access point in the basement. We suspected a larger blockage: tree roots far down the sewer line.

Sewer line, outdoor drain cleanout

Limited Access to Sewer Line

We attempted to power rod the line and remove the blockage with a three-inch cutter. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach clogs and tree roots farther down.

Tree roots can be hazardous to sewer lines because they can cause extensive damage. Tree roots cause blockages and can also crack sewer pipes which can lead to costly sewer repairs.

If not removed, tree roots will continue to grow and cause more damage to the sewer line. This can cause the line to collapse which would need a complete sewer line replacement.

In this case, we recommended the exterior full-size six-inch cleanout. The cleanout would assist in future maintenance. Most importantly, the cleanout would allow the plumber to get closer to the roots for removal. The closer the plumber and drain cleaning machine is to the obstruction the more power it will have to remove the blockage.

Sewer Line Cleanout Installation

We required exterior access to remove blockages. We installed a 6-inch cleanout between the home and the municipal sewer system (or a customer’s septic system if they have a private sewer system).

Older homes usually have cast iron or clay drainage lines. For this home, we made sure to install a plastic PVC pipe for the cleanout. The plastic sewer line will not corrode nor collapse like those made of cast iron or clay.

Then, we could clear the main line using a 6-inch cutter head and cut out all the tree roots. The sewage back up stopped and the drain pipes are now functioning as they should.

With this repair, this Albany Park home can finally enjoy peace of mind. We assured the customers the cleanout will make any future problems accessible.


Yes, you can unclog a sewer line yourself. Home Depot rents out main line drain cleaning equipment you can rent yourself. You must have the tools to open the sewer line cleanout access. Then you use the main line drain cleaning machine you rented from home depot. Put the machine through the sewer line cleanout access and run the machine. If you know how to operate the machine you should be able to unclog yourself.

Be careful with the main line drain cleaning machines because they are very powerful. When operating they can injure appendages if not operated properly. It’s best to call us at 7737998848. Every one of our Vans has a Main line drain cleaning machine with an experienced plumber that knows how to use it.

A Sewer Cleanout exists for the sole purpose to gain access to the main sewer line to perform drain cleaning. The Illinois Plumbing Code Book requires sewer line clean outs be installed on all properties. God forbid your sewer line ever be clogged, but if it did, the sewer cleanout is the quickest way to unclog the sewer. Give us a call today at 7737998848 to make sure your main sewer cleanout is present. If you do not have a sewer cleanout we can provide you with an estimate to install one at your property.

An outdoor drain cleanout should be located no more than five feet away from the foundation of your property. The Illinois Plumbing Code Book requires a full-size main sewer cleanout to be installed within five feet of the foundation wall of a property.

You should clean your sewer line once a year. Here in the Chicago land area, there are many old sewers made out of clay sewer pipe. Roots tend to enter the clay sewer pipe through the joints. In many situations using a drain cleaning machine once a year will clear all the roots coming in on the old joints.

To the Rescue!

If you need quick and quality plumbing services, Rescue Plumbing is here to help. We have experienced plumbers who can assess the problem and take care of it. Whether you have a clogged line or another issue, we’re here to rescue you.

Rescue Plumbing provides quality plumbing services to homeowners in all Chicago neighborhoods. A few include Albany Park, Logan Square, Bucktown, Wicker Park, Lakeview, and more. Give us a call at (773) 799-8848!

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