Install Outside Clean Out in Sewer Pipe

fredrikJuly 9, 2007


I have experienced some roots in my main sewer line and was adviced by a plummer to install an outside clean out and snake the line from there.

Yesterday, I located the sewer line and it seems to be a 4-inch iron pipe, or possibly galvanized pipe.

Does anyone have any advice of how to do this?

Could I cut the pipe with a metal saw and install a vertical piece with a cover to use for future clean outs.

I was thinking of renting a snake with a root cutter.

Thanks for any help!

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It's most probably 4" cast iron. You will have to cut out a piece and install a cast iron or PVC fitting. Probably a wye with a small piece of pipe and a 45 to bring it above gound (depending on how deep the pipe is), You can cut the pipe with a sawsall and metal cutting blades and you will probably use 3 or 4 blades to do the two cuts. You have to have the wye before you do the cut so you will know how much to cut out. The wye is attached to the cast iron with 4" no hub clamps and then the rest of the pipes or fittings are attached to this to bring it to ground level. You should have a screw in plug at the top where you can get to it in the future. You might want it a few inches below ground level so it's not hit with a lawnmover or stubbed with a toe. Just have to be sure that you can find it if you need to.
Be sure if you put a wye in that the angle is pointing toward the street if you have municpal sewer or towards the septic tank if that what you have.
I think it's worth it to try to rent a machine and clean the roots yourself. You'll have to be sure that you get a root cutting blade with it because that's not always what you will get.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 12:51PM
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Thanks alot for your reply!
The pipe is only a couple of feet deep right by the house and it is easy to dig in that area (mostly sand-like soil).
So a piece of 4 inch PVC, the 2 no-hub claps and a wye will do it? I'm trying to find a picture of this to make sure I'm doing the right thing.
Would you recommed to clean-out the pipe before attaching the clean-out when the pipe has been cut?

What about this Easy Rooter?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 1:22PM
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If you cut the 4" cast iron pipe with a sawzall you can expect to use 3 to 4 good quality blades ans spend 20 to 30 minutes per cut. A much better solution is to contact your local tool rental company and find out if they have a "Cast Iron Snap Cutter"? Most tool rentals have them and charge about $15 a day.

A cast iron snap cutter has a long chain similar to a bicycle chain with raised cutters on the links. The chain is wrapped around the pipe at the point were you want to cut it, then connected back to the snap cutter body. You then turn a crank a few times and you will hear a sharp snapping sound. When you hear the snap the pipe is cut. With a little practice you can make clean cuts in less than a minute, not tht you will be making enough cuts to get a lot of practice...LOL.

When you consider that quality sawzall blades will run $3 to $4 each, the snap cutter will prove to be a bargain in both time and money.

The plumbing codes prohibit installing a Sanitary Tee on a horizontal line so you will be required to install either a Wye & 1/8th bend, a "Combo" or a "Rodding Tee"

If using a Wye & 1/8th bend you should get a "Street 1/8th bend" A "street" fitting has a femal hub on one end and a male raw edge (spigot) on the other end. The male end of the 1/8th bend will fit directly into the hub of the Wye.

A "combo" is one fitting that is premade to the same shape and dimensions as a Wye & 1/8th bend.

You may also use a "Rodding Tee", which is a variation of a sanitary tee only the rodding tee has a radius curve in both directions. Rodding Tee's are made specifically for making a cleanout and may not be used for other applications. This is also the only Tee which may be installed on a horizontal line.

Once you have your Wye &1/8th bend, combo or rodding tee you will then stub up with PVC and place a female thread adapter on top with a clean out plug.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 4:10PM
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Thanks so much LazyPup!
I will definitely try to find a Cast Iron Snap Tool to make the cut.
Any thoughts on how to clean out the pipe after the cut?
I guess a tool rental place might have the root cutting auger too.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 5:31PM
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The only problem that I have with the snap cutter is if the pipe has a thin area then the wheels break through. If this is the first cut you can then just cut it back a little farther. If it's the 2nd cut, then cutting it back farther can leave a gap that is too large for the intended fitting. I know that most of the cast iron produced in the last 20 or 30 years has pretty uniform wall thickness, but the real old stuff doesn't. I like to tap the pipe with a hammer. If it doesn't sound uniform I prefer to cut with a blade. Just my feeling on the subject.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 10:16AM
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Actually the old cast iron pipe has very uniform wall thickness. The ASTM standards for cast iron pipe wall thickness were written over 100 years ago. This does not mean to say that there were not differing grades of cast iron pipe.

I prefer not to make two cuts on the same section of pipe. Instead I make one cut on one section of cast then make the second cut on the next section and just install a bit more sched.40PVC.

IN my experience I have had far more cast iron pipes shatter from the vibrationo of a saw then from a snap cutter.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 12:03PM
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So after 3 more hours of digging last night, I found the root of the problem...yes, roots!!! Also, I found that the beginning of the pipe that comes out from the foundation is 4 inch cast iron, it is then connected to a thicker concrete-like pipe. The first piece makes a 90 degree turn and then each piece is about 3 feet long, the outside diameter is about 5.5 inches and each connection has some roots going into it.
My plan is to install the clean-out next to the cast iron, and then replace the next 3-4 sections of concrete with 4 inch PVC based on your advice using the no-hub clamps.
My problem now is, how do I connect between PVC and the concrete pipe?
I'm not sure how to attach pictures here, but I uploaded 3 pictures on my website, so you will get a good look at the situation.

Thanks again!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sewer Pipes

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 12:55PM
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One thing that I found very useful when dealing with sewer pipe problems are plumbing outfits that have a video camera on a calibrated rigid-wire thing. So not only do you get a really good look at the problem, but you know where it is via the calibrated mechanism. This can really help if you have a long sewer line to the main sewer and just a localized problem.

Our sewer line is about 70 feet to the road, and digging all that up to find and fix a problem would have been a real hassle...ours was earthquake damage resulting in roots in our sewer line out near the road. So they had to actually dig up the sewer line at the deepest point, and replace a section of it. This also involved removing an replacing a section of sidewalk, as well. Quite a little operation, but the camera really helped to limit the work that they had to do to just what was needed.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 4:48PM
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Thanks for the advice.
I have located the problem, and there are roots in the beginning of the sewer. What I need to figure out now is how to connect PVC to the concrete part that seem to be slightly larger in diameter.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2007 at 4:56PM
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ive had a lot of experience in this area and it looks like the pipe you need to connect to is ether a clay pipe or an a/c pipe that is the same outside diameter. there is a rubber connector they make to connect from cast iron pipe to clay pipe. you may have to go to a plummbing supply place to buy it. -chris-

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 8:19PM
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All right! The project is completed successfully, thanks a bunch for all the advice.
The snapcutter I rented from HD worked like a charm, it cut both the Cast Iron and the Concrete with smooth cuts.
I could not believe how much roots were in the old pipe....the fact that it actually drained, slowly but surely amazes section was so full of roots it looked like they could use it in the commercials for rootkiller....It was completely blocked.
Anyway, connecting the PVC between the CI with a No-Hub, Installed a 4" cleanout for future issues :) and connected the PVC to Concrete with a 4-6" fernco coupling.
Thanks again for all the advice, couldn't have done it without you.
I spent about $ 120 on this, and with the digging and all work, I figured it would have cost atleast $ 2k to have a plummer do it

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 11:24AM
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Tree Roots are 1 of the most common causes of drain blockages etc, especially if the pipe/s are not made out of PVC. The best way to fix pipes with tree roots (in my opinion the only way) is to Reline the pipe. Basically what happens is a new pipe is placed into the old pipe using a felt core(bag) and then adhered to the old pipe which in turn increased the flow and if you use the correct lining system, then leakage will be eliminated. This system can save you thousands of dollars compared to replacing the pipes as there is no or very minimal digging required. Just google blocked drains or pipe lining or unblock pipes etc.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 10:20PM
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alexbar001: this is getting old quick. You have said the same thing in about 10 threads in less than a day. Installing a clean out DIY is a lot cheaper than relining a entire pipe.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 1:34PM
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Alexbar wouldn't be half as annoying if he knew what he was talking about. In at least three of the posts where he talks about relinging the pipe it would not have resolved the problem in any way.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 3:14PM
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hey fellas I see this is a very old thread but I must ask cause this one is very much like my problem, is it possible to install another clean out to snake back towards the house?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:55AM
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