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Old 06-20-2019, 05:39 PM   #1
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Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


Had a clog in the sewer line running between the house and street. In the past, have had drain cleaners snake the line from the vent adjacent to exterior wall of house (which means going through the house trap). This time, I decided to dig down to access the cleanout, which hasn't been touched in decades. Got to the cover plate, and cleanout caps on the house trap.



With the line cleared and cleanout capped, I put the thick steel cover back in place. I don't want to cover it up with all the dirt I removed for a couple of reasons:
  1. if I need to access the cleanout again, I don't want to have to do a lot of digging
  2. the dirt was previously so high that it covered the first row of brick of the house brick veneer wall, which I now understand is a big no-no



What would be a good way to cover the plate along with the concrete edges I exposed while digging? Preferably:
  1. at least somewhat decorative/non-hideous
  2. easy to remove / dig for future access to cleanout
  3. not tasty food for termites
  4. not attractive to other pests - rodents or insects (carpenter ants, cockroaches, etc)

Any suggestions?

Last edited by jbrah; 06-20-2019 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 06-20-2019, 06:13 PM   #2
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


How deep is the pit and how much higher do you need it., You could just add more bricks or build a box out of treated lumber that you could remove?
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Old 06-20-2019, 08:11 PM   #3
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Just to give you alternatives, the clean outs can be extended up to final grade. Then fill in the box and cover area with mulch, gravel, ground cover, or whatever meets your needs.
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Old 06-21-2019, 06:00 AM   #4
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


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How deep is the pit and how much higher do you need it., You could just add more bricks or build a box out of treated lumber that you could remove?
It's several inches from the steel cover to the first row of brick.

A removable box is a good idea. I wouldn't want to add more bricks because it's already a bit of a reach down to those cleanout caps and adding more bricks or a permanently attached wood box would make the vertical reach even longer. At least now, there, there is a bit of diagonal component to the reach down to the caps.

So maybe a shallow removable box that has same outer dimensions as the steel plate, and have that sit on the steel plate (rather than replace the plate altogether). That would reduce the amount of ground cover I'd need to remove to access the cleanout in the future.
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Old 06-21-2019, 06:05 AM   #5
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


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Just to give you alternatives, the clean outs can be extended up to final grade. Then fill in the box and cover area with mulch, gravel, ground cover, or whatever meets your needs.
Is there a mulch that isn't termite food and that doesn't attract other insects?

Mulch would be more attractive than gravel. In the same boxed in area, there is a bush, so a sharp transition from dirt, where the bush is, to the gravel might look a bit awkward (or maybe not, I'm not familiar with landscaping).

That said, gravel would probably be the simplest, low maintenance option.

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Old 06-21-2019, 06:07 AM   #6
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


Build a cube (open bottom) from treated lumber large enough to encompass the opening.
Then set a large potted plant or bird bath on it. Or, just build a lid from treated lumber and set a plant or something on it. The treated lumber setting on concrete will probably last 10 -20 years.
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Old 06-21-2019, 05:28 PM   #7
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


Or install a septic tank riser over it in the appropriate height to allow the dome to just come to grade level. They are green and become innocuous in time.
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Old 06-22-2019, 11:06 PM   #8
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


It occurred to me that I may be reducing the insulation this pipe gets. That steel plate was covered by several inches of dirt. If I replace that dirt with a box and rocks on the sides and top of box, I assume the pipe will get colder in the winter than when the plate was covered by ~4" of dirt.

Is this a problem for a sewer pipe? Before the trap, the pipe is in the house, so it won't freeze there, and after the trap, the pipe is under a few feet of dirt and getting deeper as it travels away from the house.
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Old 06-22-2019, 11:20 PM   #9
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


I wouldn't worry about the sewer pipe but you could just put a layer or two of foam board on top of the pipes.
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Old 06-23-2019, 12:05 AM   #10
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


You might be better off putting a pvc lattice box or enclosure around the 3 clean outs to grade and what I'm guessing is 1.5" galvanized pipe. Depends on your sense of aesthetics.

To answer your other question, big box stores sell synthetic mulch that doesn't attract insects.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Vigoro-0...N8CB/203714943
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:11 AM   #11
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


Sewer pipes are dry most of the time, so freezing is not that big, but do as Neal said, cut some foam to go on top of the clean outs to insulate. What is that stand pipe to the left in the picture? I just noticed that.
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Old 06-23-2019, 06:20 AM   #12
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


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Old 06-23-2019, 07:54 AM   #13
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


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Sewer pipes are dry most of the time, so freezing is not that big, but do as Neal said, cut some foam to go on top of the clean outs to insulate. What is that stand pipe to the left in the picture? I just noticed that.
In normal use, there is enough relatively warm water coming from inside the house, that I wouldn't expect this to be an issue.

I was specifically thinking about the water that is in the trap. If we are out of town overnight or several days, that water will sit there, and if the temps are low, I would guess it will freeze. As you point out, there isn't standing water elsewhere in the line, so even if the water in the trap does freeze, it won't crack the pipe as it has room to expand.

And I suppose we could resolve the issue upon returning to the house by running hot water at first - if we remember!

Yeah, I can use foam inside the box to mitigate the risk altogether.

The stand pipe to the left is the sewer vent. In the past, this has been used to snake the sewer line, but now that I've dug out to the trap enclosure, we can use the actual cleanouts.

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Old 06-23-2019, 08:03 AM   #14
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hidyi View Post
You might be better off putting a pvc lattice box or enclosure around the 3 clean outs to grade and what I'm guessing is 1.5" galvanized pipe. Depends on your sense of aesthetics.
Not sure I follow. 3 cleanouts? There are two cleanouts, one on either side of the trap. 1.5" galvanized pipe? If you're referring to the narrow vertical pipe, that's just the mailbox post.

Quote:
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To answer your other question, big box stores sell synthetic mulch that doesn't attract insects.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Vigoro-0...N8CB/203714943
That's what I initially thought, then I ran into this article:
https://www.totallandscapecare.com/l.../rubber-mulch/

"Another plus of using rubber mulch is that unlike some wood mulches, it does not feed any pests such as termites or carpenter ants. The downside is that it has been found to be the preferred mulch for female and nymphal stage Asian cockroaches."

Not sure if they are seriously overstating the matter or not.

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Old 06-23-2019, 10:00 AM   #15
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Re: Sewer cleanout access box - what to cover with?


Aah, you have a trap system. Since you have successfully used the vent to snake, could you not just bring the clean out up level with the grade via a threaded connector and pipe with an access plug, then cover it all up? You could extend the pipe, put in foam or rubber mulch, whatever you want in the box to bring it to grade.

Neal, I like the rock thingy.
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