How To Remove A PVC Cleanout Plug

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

PVC cleanout plugs play a vital role in keeping sewerage systems in running condition. They provide access points to clogged spaces and are installed in several places along the sewer line. When the gutter flow is disrupted, all you need to do is twist them off and insert a sewer snake through the hole to unclog.

Place a bucket underneath the P-trap so that water doesn’t spill onto the floor. Grip the square nut above the plug with a pipe wrench and turn it clockwise to remove it. Remove the plug, inspect it for debris, and clean or replace it.

In a nutshell, its purpose is to prevent wastewater from entering the cleanout and divert it straight to the sewerage line. Plus, it keeps away dangerous gasses, fumes from leaking into the home and also functions as a pest controller. Removing it is quite straight forward; the PVC cleanout plug is threaded, so a twist in the right direction can easily wedge it out. However, in case it’s stuck, removal may be somewhat tricky.

Read on to why you may require PVC Cleanout plug removal, and how to go about it!

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What Does A Cleanout Plug Look Like?

Typically, the cleanout plug is a pipe that is 4-inch in diameter, reinforced with an indented or square knob-based screw-cap.

You can find the cleanout on the outside of your house between the foundation and the ground below. Check on either side of the house or nearest to the bathrooms.

Telltale Signs of A Clogged Or Severed Sewerage

A malfunctioning sewer line becomes apparent when you notice water draining at a slower pace and coming forth in unusual places. For instance, when operating your washer/dryer, water will appear in the sink — likewise, on flushing the toilet, you see water coming out from the drain in the shower area.

Also, a common sign is that your basement will have an intense or lingering septic smell. Here is a piece on what to do if the sewer cleanout cap popped off.

The Problem Lies In The Sewerage System Or A Singular Drain?

The main sewerage line is responsible for driving away all the drained water from your house, be it from sinks, tubs, and dishwashers, etc. If you notice that all drains within your house are holding back, the mainline needs fixing. However, if an individual drain is acting up, cleaning it with a drain snake should resolve the issue.

A word of advice – don’t ignore the issue. Also, don’t use drain cleaners before knowing the cause; it may lead to more damage. Fixing a clogged up sewerage system is not easy to DIY, but it has to happen quickly. For homeowners, DIY is usually the only viable route.

If unclogging the plug doesn’t work, there is a strong possibility that you have a broken pipe, or the clog is significantly sized. However, you can redeem individual clogs by removing the PVC cleanout plug and then hauling away what’s blocking the water.

How To Remove A PVC Cleanout Plug

Before putting in some elbow grease, please ensure that you have the following items at hand:

  • Hammer
  • Scrub brush
  • Slot screwdriver
  • Pipe wrench
  • Adjustable pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Bucket

Steps For Removing A PVC Cleanout Plug

Whether the cap is damaged and needs replacement, or you want to open it up for a cleanup — follow these steps to the T, to remove the cleanout plug easily:

Step 1 Positioning The Wrench

Place a pipe wrench on the square nut above the plug, and make sure that the connection is secure. Move the wrench clockwise, and there is a strong possibility that you may need to put in some force, especially if the nut hasn’t been removed in a while.

Step 2 Avoiding Spills

If under a P-Trap, keep a bucket underneath that will catch all the water that will fall when you remove the plug.

Step 3 Loosening The Plug

The chances are that the PVC plug won’t move owing to a damaged nut. IF such is the case, use a screwdriver, alongside a hammer to loosen the fastener. Place the screwdriver on top of the nut and consciously tap it with the hammer until the plug starts rotating. The idea is to do gentle taps until the plug can be moved by hand.

Step 4 Inspect The Now Removed PVC Plug

Pay close attention to the plug and if it is in usable condition or needs to be replaced. If the threads appear to be dirty or rust-ridden, brush of the filth with a scrub and some water. If the cap is cracked, you better replace it.

Step 5 Reinsert Or Replace

Once you have cleared the clog, it’s time to revamp the system with the PVC Plug, and if it is damaged beyond repair, replace it with a new one. Initially, tighten by hand till you can’t move any further. Then, use the wrench to tighten it further, but be wary; an overly tightened plug may break.

How To Remove A Stuck Cleanout Plug?

A clogged pipe can be dealt with by draining cleanout pipes, but what if the PVC plug won’t budge, despite all your efforts? Well, not to worry, it’s a simple matter of putting in the right amount of force and using some expert-recommended techniques.

But first, clean around the plug; it may be covered in cobwebs, mold spores, dirt, or even ice depending on where you live. Also, remove any wood-based items, so they don’t get damaged.

Here are three ways to loosen the plug. Any of them may fix the issue, so go through these one-by-one:

  • If the cap in question is made of cast-iron, use a blow torch to heat it up. Whereas, if you have a plastic-based cap such PVC cleanout plus; a hairdryer at high setting may serve well
  • As mentioned earlier, put a screwdriver on the plug’s edge and then tap it with a hammer. It may take a bit of time but would get the cap unstuck.
  • Use a hammer to tap directly on to the PVC cleanout plug; this will help in loosening the threads

Remember, these plugs come cheap, so even if you break it in the removal process – no need to worry – replacement is quick and easy.

Still Stuck? Cut Open The Plug!

If you’ve been at it for more than 30 minutes and the plug doesn’t seem to budge, it’s to call in the backup. Pick up that power saw to cut off the cleanout plug.

Follow these steps:

  • Not just the cleanout plug, saw off the pipe that connects to and from it
  • Use the removed pipe as a reference to cut out a replacement pipe
  • Put the pipe back in place and put in a new cleanout plug to connect them.

However, this process requires some expertise, so it would be best to call in an expert if you are a layman at best.

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Related Questions

How Do You Seal A Cleanout Plug?

These plugs come threaded, and there is no pressure involved, so a sealant won’t be necessary. However, if need be, you can use plumber tape or Teflon tape.


Is The Toilet Also Considered As A Cleanout?

No, it cannot function as a cleanout; you need to have a vent with the same size pipe and install a cleanout on the flue. The cleanout should be approximately five feet away.


What Should I Expect To Pay For Installation Of A Cleanout?

Installation costs differ according to the size and complexity of the system. Typically, be ready to pay at least $500, but know that the charges for a professional service can go as high as $2,000 or more. The materials aren’t pricy, but the equipment, tools, and installations tend to cost higher.


How Many Cleanouts Should There Be In My Home?

It depends on the piping system, but as a rule of thumb, you should install a cleanout plug for every 100 feet of piping.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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