How to install a septic tank sewer cleanout

Written by tom raley
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How to install a septic tank sewer cleanout
PVC tee fitting (te en pvc 45° image by Marie-Thérèse GUIHAL from Fotolia.com)

Installing a clean-out port in your drain lines can save considerable headache, expense and, in some cases, a very messy situation. A clean-out allows you to easily access the drain line in the event of a clog, and in some applications can prevent flooding inside your home. If properly placed, the clean-out may also be used when pumping out the septic tank for routine cleaning.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Hacksaw
  • PVC tee fitting
  • Tape measure
  • PVC 4-inch pipe
  • PVC pipe cap
  • PVC pipe cleaner
  • PVC pipe cement
  • Pop-off fitting (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Locate the drain line as it leaves the home. Most septic tanks are located a minimum of 10 feet from the home. Choose a location approximately 5 feet from the home in which to install the clean-out. The drain line should be a maximum depth of 2 feet or shallower.

  2. 2

    Excavate the area 3 to 6 inches deeper than the drain line. You will also need to reveal 3 to 4 feet of the pipe in order to have adequate room to work. Clear away the loose dirt and be certain no water or appliances are running inside the house so that the drain line will be as dry as possible.

  3. 3

    Cut into the drain line and remove a section of pipe. The removed section should match the length of the tee fitting. Be certain to account for the flange on the tee fitting where the drain line will insert on both ends. Use the pipe cleaner to clean both ends of the drain line as well as the fitting.

  4. 4

    Install the tee fitting into the drain line. Position the fittings so the open port is facing upward. Use adequate amounts of pipe cement to ensure a solid and secure fit. Measure the distance from the fitting to ground level. Cut a piece of PVC pipe to match this measurement and securely glue it into the tee fitting.

  5. 5

    Install the PVC pipe cap atop the new pipe. You should purchase a threaded cap so it can be easily removed when service is required. Another option is a pop-out fitting. This fitting will have a weighted cap that will remain securely in place unless there is a backup of water in the pipe. At that point, the insert will pop out and allow the water to drain outside rather than backing up into the home. These are not legal in all areas, so check your codes before installing.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear eye and hand protection when cutting into the drain line. There will be remnants of sewage in the line and you will want to protect your eyes and skin from contamination.
  • Some homeowners will install a clean-out on both sides of the septic tank to have easy access to all drain lines as well as the tank itself.

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