City Utilities Department Initiates ‘Cap the Cleanout’ Program
A recent smoke test of the entire sewer system conducted by the City of Valdosta Utilities Department showed nearly 1,400 cleanout caps were missing around the city. Sewer cleanouts and their caps play an essential role in the health of our local sewer system. For this reason, city officials thought it was imperative to correct this problem and replaced all 1,400 cleanout caps. However, being that these cleanout pies are often located on private property, officials are now asking residents to help maintain them. The typical issue utilities staff are seeing is that many people do not know what a sewer cleanout is or why it is needed.
The cleanout serves as an access point to the underground sewer system. Maintenance and utilities workers need access to the system to perform regular upkeep of the sewer, including sewer line cleaning, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Sewer cleanouts are eight inches in width and are usually made of plastic piping. They are located within three to five feet of a business or residence. Cleanouts typically have a removable cap to provide these workers with easy access, but it is equally important to keep these pipes sealed when they are not being worked on.
The caps can be found on the vertical cleanout pipe connected to the underground sewer line, typically near the home and close to the property line. It is used to prevent rainwater, debris, and even small animals from getting into the sewer system. During rain events, an uncapped cleanout could cause stormwater to get into the system and be treated unnecessarily, putting stress on our wastewater treatment plant and collection system, ultimately driving up operating and treatment costs. Debris can also cause blockages and lead to backups in the home or city sewer lines.
The city is working to identify all inflow sources in our sewer system to help solve this problem. Working together, we can save valuable resources and provide needed protection to the city’s collection system. When around 1,400 cleanout caps were discovered to be missing or severely damaged, city officials wanted to take the first step in correcting this issue by purchasing and replacing all the caps. “As you can imagine, 1,400, eight-inch holes in the ground allows a lot of debris and water to get into the sewer system. The city took the first step and replaced all these cleanout caps. Now we are asking citizens to maintain the ones that are on their property or business,” said Utilities Director Daryl Muse.
Replacing your cleanout cap is simple. If you notice that the cap on your cleanout pipe is missing or damaged, first determine the type of cap needed. It will be either PVC or Brass. Then remove the damaged cap and screw the new cap on clockwise. Be sure to secure the cap by tightening it with pliers, pipe wrench, or channel locks.
If you have any questions about your sewer cleanout, you can call the City of Valdosta Utilities Department at 229-259-3592.