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In previous newsletters, "Ask Dan" has addressed frequently asked questions about our water system. The Homeowners Association is responsible for the drinking water which comes into your home, whereas West Bloomfield Township is responsible for the water that comes out of your home. We have no authority nor responsibility for the water going out through your drains and sewers. You pay a separate sewer bill ($120.58/quarter) to West Bloomfield Township to process and treat your waste water. However, drain and sewer issues are often a problem for homeowners. A plumbers' expertise is usually required to identify and repair those issues. And, more often than not, he or she will need to access the main sanitary cleanout to clear any debris or stoppage between the toilets and the sewer.

Recently we learned that one of our residents had a very unfortunate, and very costly, experience with a plumber which resulted in over $7,000 in in charges and considerable landscape repair! And she's not convinced the problem is solved! That story prompted our unofficial neighborhood 'historian' and original Water Systems Manager, Richard Rauch, to provide some explanation and understanding of the sanitary clean outs which are so important to your Briarcliff home's plumbing. Hopefully, being armed with this important information will ensure that no other homeowner has to endure having their yard bulldozed in an attempt to locate their cleanout!

What, Why and When: In 1953 and '54, all the homes in Briarcliff Knolls were constructed with a Septic Tank and Sanitary Drain Field because municipal sanitary sewer drains were not available; they were subsequently installed in the subdivision in 1960 and '61. With that, the septic tanks and drain fields were abandoned, and each home was connected to the West Bloomfield Township Sanitary Sewer System.

Where: Each home has an exterior sanitary sewer cleanout. The sewer clean out may be located at the front of the house, or in the back of the house. The location depends on where the original septic system was located. It is imperative that each homeowner knows where his or her cleanout is located because prior to initiating repair work, as it is often necessary for a plumber to access this clean out. In the case of our resident above, her plumber insisted the clean out had to be located in the front, even after she informed him she believed it was in the back!

How: Each home has two sewer vent pipes, extending through the roof of the house. These are necessary to allow air into the sewer pipes to avoid a vacuum as waste water flows from the house. One vent pipe is in the front wall just to the right of the kitchen sink. In most cases, this is inaccessible because cabinetry has been installed over it. The second vent pipe is in the interior wall directly behind the master bath toilet. Both vent pipes can be seen extending through the roof of the house and these can provide a clue as to the location of your cleanout. Using the second vent pipe as a reference point, the main cleanout extends into your yard directly in line with the second vent pipe and is perpendicular to the house, approximately five feet from the exterior wall. Remember, it could be in the front OR back.

Sanitary Cleanout Locations

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the diagram and explanation . We urge you to spend some time this summer locating your own cleanout. It can save you a lot of money and a ton of headaches. You may need to dig around with a shovel a bit, but it can ONLY be in one of these two places. Look 3 - 5 feet out from the house's exterior wall and in line with the bathroom vent pipe. This is time well-spent!

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