Sewer Cleanout Cap Covers: Usage, Location and Removing a Stuck One

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The sewer cleanout cap and its cover are among the most important house components in your home.

While this statement might seem ridiculous for most readers, it actually is a confirmed fact regarding which most people know very little about it. It is a crucial part of your plumbing system, so the easiest solution if the problem occurs is to call a professional to deal with it.

At least that is the way almost all of us think, but if you inform yourself little bit more about the cleanout cap itself, its locations and uses, you just might be able to save yourself from great financial costs, dirt and damage done to your home and a whole lot more issues that this component can bring upon you.


The Sewer Cleanout and its Cap Cover

A sewer cleanout is a common name for all the vertical access points to your sewer system, so there is a chance of you having more than one cleanout on your property. There can be both inside sewercleanouts and outside sewer cleanouts, as well.

The main purpose of the existence of these cleanouts is to provide you with an easily accessible spot from where you can clean your sewer line from accumulated dirt, wipes or any other clog that could occur.

In cases of clogging or any other problem with water pressure in your pipeline or sewer line, without knowing the location and access point of your cleanout, you will be forced to call plumbers for servicing and they will possibly have to remove some of your toilet components to access the pipes.

This is the most common problem which more and more people are trying to avoid.

The Cleanout Cap Cover is in most cases a plastic coverage of your cleanout entrance, with a few very important tasks. The main is, of course, to protect your cleanout from rust, corrosion, and dirt or any other damage that could affect your cleanout.

On the other hand, it is very important how the cover prevents certain toxic gases and materials from exiting the cleanout and entering your household.


How to locate your cleanouts?

There are several ways you can figure out the location of your cleanout:

  • Search all the known cleanout spots in your home

If done by code, there are few locations specified for the installation of cleanout in your home. While most of the spots are outside your house, there are also some inside your home where you should check first, such as next to your main drain.

The main drain is your house’s most important drain line and its cleanout is referred to as the maincleanout. This is because of its usefulness when it comes to dealing with the main drain clogging which could, later on, affect your sewer line.

The main cleanout is the easiest approach plumbing spot in your house from where you can easily deal with the clog using a drain snake.

You might also like: Why Does My House Smells like Sewer When it Rains?

  • Search for outdoors cleanout spots

There are commonly known outside cleanout spots as well, depending on the weather conditions of where you live. In cases of a warmer climate, most often the outside cleanout will be located by your exterior house walls. In some cases, it even has its metal box for protection.

It could also be extending from the ground near your walls and it represents a large-diameter pipe with the plug on top.

In cases of colder climate, your sewer cleanout might be located in your basement. Since your house in these conditions is probably built after the basement, the cleanout will probably be on the basement floor on the side of the foundation wall.

  • Ask for your city municipal sewer lines plan, or call a plumbing company

If you still can’t find your sewer cleanout cap, try requesting the plans of the city sewer line if your house is not newly built.

By looking at the plans, you should notice the bends in sewer lines on your property. Sewer cleanouts are usually located above that bend. If that doesn’t help, hire a plumber to hear their proposition.

Sewer Cleanout Cap Cover Types

Nowadays there are cap covers made of different materials to suit each need of the buyer.

The most used are plastic and metal cleanout cap covers. The problem with these two types of caps is that the plastic one is weak and can be damaged greatly by time, while the metal ones are known for corrosive faults.

There are also some recommendable newly developed cleanout caps and covers from different materials able to suit different pipelines:

  • ABS fitting for suiting the ABS pipe
  • PVC fitting for PVC pipes
  • Polypropylene cleanout caps
  • Reusable expansion cover plugs – These are used for reinforcing the seal on the metal made cleanouts
  • Glass-filled plugs – More convenient and durable than the normal ones, these caps are acid and chemical resistant for increasing your health safety
  • Threaded Raised Head ABS cleanout plugs


How to Remove a Stuck Cleanout Cap Cover

Sometimes, if not frequently used over the years, a cleanout cap can be stuck.

This could happen from various reasons such as dirt accumulation, rust on the screw, even the cap itself can become fused with the threads and makes it very hard to remove when you need it.

This issue can be solved if you know the right method of approach when trying to remove the stuck cap:

  • Heat up the capto remove it – If the stuck cap is iron-made, use a propane torch to loosen the threads which have probably grown together with the cap. By heating them enough you should be able to remove the cap.
  • Use a sledgehammer – Sometimes it is enough to tap the cap with a sledgehammer to loosen it. If you do not own a sledgehammer in your household, use a screwdriver that you will pin in the cap in a sharp angle, and hammer the screwdriver with an ordinary hammer. Repeat this few times to loosen up the cap.
  • Use a wrench to turn the nut of the plug counterclockwise. This should unstick the cap if it is a metal one. If you have this issue with a plastic cap cover, try using a hairdryer instead. That heat alone should be enough to loosen it up since it is plastic-made.
  • In case you didn’t use any type of heating, try using a penetrating catalyst lubricant which is great for removing the rust if that is what caused it to get stuck. Never use this method after torching the cap.
  • Use a socket wrench and a pipe as the extension to it, and turn the cap counterclockwise. This process should help to make clearance and help you remove the stuck cap

If none of these methods are applicable in your case, try breaking the whole cap and removing it that way. It will, of course, request you to buy a new cap cover, but luckily they are very affordable and every day more and more types of these caps are being produced.

That way not only you will remove the cap, but also install a new modern one which will last you much longer.

Conclusion: Sewer Cleanout Cap Covers

A sewer cleanout cap is not an item that should be taken lightly. Over the years, if not cleaned and preserved in the right way, it can cause big trouble when the time comes for maintenance of your sewer line.

It is a recommended solution to always know the location of your cleanouts, not just the main one, and to know the easiest way of removing that particular cleanout cap.

Outside placed cleanouts will cause you much less trouble in terms of water backing up the possibility to your floor, or large toilet components which would have to be removed to even access the sewer line.

Knowing these caps and their location and purpose will drastically help you maintain your sewer lines and making sure that none of the material or gases from those pipes will ever break through to your home.

Related: Outside Sewer Line Cleanout: Practicality, Benefits and Types

Meet Marco, a lifelong tinkerer and DIY enthusiast, developed a passion for plumbing after fixing a leaky faucet in his own home. Years later, he turned that passion into a thriving business, Amarco Plumbing, where he shares his knowledge and expertise with the community.