Bury that ugly sewer clean out in a box!

by Christopher Simmons on August 24, 2010

in Apex,Greenbrier,Landscaping,North Carolina

Sanitary sewer clean outs are critical for maintaining your connection to your sewer system.  Should a backup occur, getting to a clean out quickly can save you money and reduce the damage from an overflow inside your house.

Sewer clean outs are ugly tripping hazards

But no matter how important clean outs are, they sure can be eyesores.  They stick up out of the ground, are difficult to mow around, and can be tripping hazards.

My sewer clean out before.

My same clean out, facing front yard.

So, I put my sewer clean out below ground in an irrigation box.

The new covered box in place.

I used an irrigation box I had left over from putting in my sprinkler system.  But you can buy one for about $20 at any big box home improvement store.  I set the box and its cover flush with the ground.  So, no more trip hazard, and mowing is much easier – I just mow right over it.  And if I get really fired up, I use the string trimmer along the edges of the cover.

Cover comes off with a screwdriver and provides easy access to the clean out.

Steps I took to bury my sewer clean out

To do this upgrade, I used a regular shovel to excavate around the the existing above-ground pipe.  Then, I cut the pipe below the cap fitting, leaving enough pipe on the cap end so that I could re-use it.  I cut the remaining pipe even lower, and then used a union fitting to connect the pipe in the ground to the cap fitting, using the purple primer and green PVC glue you can buy almost anywhere.  In the photo, you can see the green cap fitting that I re-used and the white union fitting.  To discourage bugs, spiders, and frogs from using the box as a new home, I also set the box on a bed of gravel.

So, here’s the result.  No more ugly sewer clean out – until I need it.

Here's the after - with landscaping grown in and a new fence.

Cost of this home improvement project

The cost was about $3 for the union fitting and $4 for a bag of gravel.  As I said above, I already had an extra irrigation box, but they cost about $20, as I recall.  The purple primer and green PVC cement come in various sizes, but you can usually get a small combo pack for about $6.  So, starting from scratch – and assuming you already have a shovel – the cost would be about $33.

All things considered, the wife and I think this upgrade has really improved our curb appeal.  She is especially happy, since she didn’t do any digging – this time.

Sanitary Sewer Easements and Eminent Domain

BTW: This is, of course, a private, residential sanitary sewer project I did myself.  But big sewer projects are done all the time for residential and commercial property, frequently by municipalities or other governmental agencies. They often work with private developers in joint ventures, where the developer tries to purchase the necessary sewer easements from private property owners, and if it can’t, then the government condemns those easements through eminent domain. Usually, the developer then reimburses the government for its easement acquisition costs.  That’s the other side of the eminent domain joint venture. So, even a sewer eminent domain case can require help from sophisticated eminent domain lawyers.

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