Sewer cleanout with box lid open, showing gravel

Sewer Cleanout? Underground it!

Sewer Cleanout Critical but in the Way

A sewer cleanout is a sewer pipe that gives you access to your home's sewer line. Should a backup occur, getting to a sewer cleanout quickly can save you money and reduce the damage from an overflow inside your house. So, it's critical for maintaining your connection to your sewer system.

To make sure they are easily accessible, sometimes a builder will install a sewer cleanout above grade. Sometimes that's because of a local law on how high above ground a sewer cleanout has to be.

But a sewer cleanout that is above ground has its own set of problems. Luckily, I've found a pretty easy and cheap solution.

More...

Home improvement: keep the sewer clean out, but put it underground in a utility box

   Sewer cleanout is critical but also Ugly Tripping Hazard

Sewer Cleanout also Ugly Tripping Hazard

No matter how important sewer cleanouts are, they sure can be eyesores. When they stick up out of the ground, they're difficult to mow around, and they can be tripping hazards.

Sewer cleanout with box lid open, showing gravel

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

"Undergrounded" Sewer Cleanout

First, I had already called "no cuts", the FREE utility locator service, so I knew where all the underground utilities were in my yard. Before you dig in your yard, you should call them too!  (In NC, you can call 811 or go to nc811.org.)

Then, I used an irrigation valve box I had left over from putting in my sprinkler system / irrigation system. But you can buy one online or at a home center for not too much money.

I dug a hole a few inches deeper than I thought I needed. Then, I cut the pipe with a reciprocating saw. I cleaned the pipe off with a rag. Then, I used a 4" PVC connection piece and some PVC primer and glue to glue the same cap fitting to to the new, lower connection. 

I back-filled the hole with a bag of "crush and run" gravel, and I set the box and its cover flush with the ground. Then, I back filled around the outside of the box with some of the dirt I had from digging the hole.

Sewer cleanout underground in covered box

   The new covered box in place.

Sewer Cleanout Squared Away

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.

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

The Results

Now, the sewer cleanout is safely below ground and in a box that is flush with the ground. So, from the front yard, you can't even see that there is a box, much less some ugly sewer cleanout. This home improvement has really improved curb-appeal and safety. It was another home improvement that improved my life. 

Key Things You'll Need to Do this Project

If you do this project, here are a few of the key things you'll need. You can order these things from Amazon with the links below. 

4" DWV Coupling

  • Schedule 40 PVC (aka "Charlotte Pipe") -- standard for durability
  • DWV (Drain, Waste, and Vent)?
  • Has a stop in the inside center for easy assembly.

PVC Primer & Cement 

  • Combo Pack
  • Convenient for small application like this one

12" Sprinkler System Valve Box

  • Lid clips into place at both ends
  • Just need a screwdriver to pry lid open

10-Inch 12 Points Per Inch SharpTooth Mini Utility Saw

  • Great utility saw! 
  • I've owned one for years.
  • Sturdy and reliable
  • Just needs elbow grease!

Or if you're ready to upgrade to an awesome reciprocating saw...

DEWALT DWE305 12 Amp Corded Reciprocating Saw with DW4898 Bi-Metal Reciprocating Saw Blade Set with Case, 10-Piece

  • Outstanding reciprocal saw! 
  • I've used this one over and over.
  •  This is an outstanding saw you'll use over and over! 

Outdoor Extension Cord- 12/3 - Great for Commercial Use, Gardening, and Major Appliances

  • 12 Amp/3 wire 
  • American Made & Heavy Duty


BONUS:
Get Your Free Tools and Materials List!

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter from anywhere on this post and you can download our BONUS, complete Tools and Materials List for this project! It's a free PDF that you can print or save to your phone. You can check off what you already have and then take it with you as a shopping list. It even has links built into it. So, if you want, you can just click the images in the list and shop online. That also lets you easily compare in-store prices to online prices, so you're not wasting time trying to look up each item while your standing in the store. 

EXTRA: Whose sewer Pipe is it?

This sewer cleanout was my own private cleanout on my property. You might have a sewer cleanout in "your yard" that is actually in the public right of way. (A lot of people don't realize that the public right of way line is often several feet behind the curb or sidewalk.)

But sewer cleanouts inside the right of way often belong to your city or town and not to you.  Many cities and towns have laws saying how high those sewer cleanouts have to be. (The reason is that the municipality needs to be able to quickly and easily find the cleanout in case there is a sanitary sewer overflow.) 

So, before you cut down or underground a sewer cleanout that doesn't belong to you, you should check with your municipality and its local laws. Your town may not enforce this particular type of ordinance, but you should definitely find out what it is first.  

Resource Links page has Local Laws Library!

Check out our Resource Links page for a great resource on local laws across the country, Municode. To read more about it and get the direct link to the Municode FREE online library of local laws by clicking here.

About the Author Christopher Simmons

Christopher is a homeowner in the Raleigh, North Carolina area who enjoys home improvement projects.

  • Jeanne says:

    It looks great. You did a wonderful job.

  • Brenda says:

    I realize this was posted long ago, but finding this exact scenario online is nearly impossible! I tried to explain to my husband what I wanted but he couldn’t visualize it. This is perfect! Your yard is beautiful.

  • >