How to Find a Sewer Cleanout Drain on the Side of a House

Plumbers strategically place sewer cleanouts to allow homeowners and drain cleaning professionals access to commonly clogged drain lines, such as small pipes and acutely curved fittings.

Plumbers often install cleanouts within walls and floors and conceal the fittings behind access doors or plates.Plumbers often install cleanouts within walls and floors and conceal the fittings behind access doors or plates.
Cleanout fittings are easily identifiable by their screw-on caps or plugs. However, plumbers often conceal cleanouts behind exterior access doors, or overgrown plants can hide the fittings from sight. If you learn what to look for and where to look, you can easily find a cleanout located around your home's perimeter.

Walk the perimeter of the building, and scan the bottom third of the exterior wall for protruding drainpipes. Pay particular attention to walls that border plumbed rooms, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. If weeds or plants block your view, trim or prune your landscaping with a weed trimmer or shears to clear obstructions from the wall. Search for black pipes. Most residential drainpipes are plastic ABS or cast iron; both types are black.

Inspect drainpipes that protrude from the building's exterior wall. Pipes that protrude outward are typically cleanouts, and pipes that climb the wall and extend through the roof are usually vent pipes. Inspect the pipes that protrude away from the wall for screw-on caps or screw-in plugs. Pipes with caps or plugs are cleanouts.

Search the building's exterior walls for access doors or metal access plates. Open or loosen doors or plates. Shine a flashlight into the access opening, and inspect the building's crawlspace for pipes. Inspect the pipes for cleanout caps.

Attach a pipe wrench to the cleanout cap or the cleanout plug's knob. Twist the cap or plug counterclockwise to loosen and remove the cap from the cleanout.

Things You Will Need

  • Weed trimmer
  • Hedge shears or lopping shears
  • Flashlight
  • Pipe wrench


  • Old cleanout caps and plugs are notoriously difficult to loosen; if you have trouble opening a cleanout, apply a grease-free, penetrating lubricant to the cap or plug.
  • Cleanout openings are the ideal place to use drain augers; if you face a particularly stubborn clog, consider renting a power auger from your local home improvement store.

About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.