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How to Add a Clean-Out to an Old Septic Line

Adding a clean-out to a septic line can prevent or mitigate numerous plumbing emergencies. A clean-out is simply a pipe that connects to the septic line on one end and is covered with a removable cap on the other. A home owner or plumber can use a clean-out to easily remove clogs or build-up in the septic line. Newer homes typically come with at least one septic line clean-out, but many older homes have none at all. Save hours of aggravation as well as costly repairs down the line by adding a clean-out to your old septic line.

Getting Started

Locate the desired area for the clean-out. At a minimum, place a clean-out between the house and the septic tank. Consider adding one in each floor of the house as well.

For clean-outs that are to be located behind walls, use a drywall saw and cut out the drywall to expose the pipe.

Outdoor clean-outs need to have the dirt excavated around and under the pipe where the clean-out will be located.

Clean the pipe in the area where the clean-out will be added and connect the clean-out to the pipe. See below for instructions on the three different types of pipe commonly used in septic systems.

Connecting to a Terra Cotta Sewer Line

Lay out the hole using the rubber connection saddle. This saddle will allow the clean-out to be connected to the terra cotta pipe.

Make the hole by gently tapping on the terra cotta until it breaks. Carefully enlarge the hole until it reaches the desired size.

Place the saddle on the pipe. Align the hole in the saddle over the hole in the pipe. Use the supplied hose clamps to fasten the saddle to the pipe.

Insert the PVC clean-out pipe into the hole in the saddle. Once again, use the supplied hose clamp to connect the saddle to the pipe.

Connecting to a PVC Septic Line

Cut the existing septic line with a PVC or hack saw.

Glue a T-fitting onto the existing line, connecting both ends of the cut pipe to the fitting.

Connect and glue the PVC septic clean-out pipe to the "T" part of the fitting.

Connecting to a Cast Iron Septic Line

Use a chain-style cast iron pipe cutter to cut the cast iron pipe where the connection will be made.

Install a rubber T-boot designed to connect cast iron pipe to PVC pipe. Use the supplied hose clamps to fasten the boot to the cast iron pipe.

Insert the PVC clean-out pipe into the "T" end of the boot and fasten with the supplied hose.

Finishing Up

Glue a threaded pipe plug onto the other end of the PVC clean-out pipe. This removable plug will provide access to the septic line as well as keep septic gases from passing through the septic clean-out pipe.

Replace the drywall by using a specially designed cover that will hide the cut drywall and allow easy access in the future. These are commonly available in most home improvement stores, usually near the HVAC or plumbing supplies.

Rebury the pipe if the clean-out was placed in the yard. Either cover it completely with dirt or use a utility lawn box designed to cover buried pipe and electrical connections.

Things You Will Need

  • Drywall saw
  • Hammer
  • PVC cement (glue)
  • PVC saw/hack saw
  • Chain-type cast iron pipe cutter
  • Screwdriver
  • Rubber connection saddle (for terra cotta pipes)
  • PVC T-fitting (for PVC pipes)
  • PVC pipe
  • Rubber T-boot (for cast iron pipes)

About the Author

Vance Holloman is a residential contractor and freelance writer living in Atlanta. Much of his writing centers on the expertise he has gained from two decades in the construction industry. His work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and numerous online sites, including eHow.com and "Auburn Plainsman." Holloman has a Master's degree in business from the University of Maryland.