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In my new apartment in Spain there is an opening in the middle of the tiled floor that reveals a ~15cm diameter pipe. This descends around 60cm and has water at the bottom and some smaller pipe connections that I can't see very well. There was some grease and grime on the sides of the pipe that I have cleaned as best I can. Water leaving the sink, toilet and bathtub all seem to disturb the water at the bottom of this pipe so it appears to be connected somehow.

  1. What is the purpose of this pipe?
  2. What maintenance, if any, does it require?
  3. Are there any signs of problems that I should look out for?

Pipe closed Pipe open

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    google sewer cleanout – jsotola Feb 9 at 20:36
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    looks like an access port to snake the drain pipes. – dandavis Feb 9 at 21:14
  • Are you on the ground floor? – JACK Feb 9 at 22:10
  • I would agree it looks like a clean out. – Ed Beal Feb 9 at 23:08
  • Thanks all. “Cleanout” as a noun and “snake” as a verb are both new terms for me and have already been very useful for finding more information. @JACK I am on the third floor of a five-story building. – VerfremdungsFX Feb 10 at 8:01
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It's a cleanout port. Very helpful if you ever have a clog downstream in the pipe. The plumber can stick a snake (not an actual animal, a tool called a snake) down it to loosen the clog.

No maintenance required.

Water coming out of that port means you have a clog and the pipe is backing up. If the seal fails it can allow sewer gasses into your bathroom.

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  • To be clear, the seal is not an actual animal either. – Willk Feb 11 at 17:59
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As mentioned in other answers and comments, it's a clean out. Since you're on the third floor, you probably share that pipe with some other units because the clean outs are not usually in every unit. There is no maintenance required by you but since you already cleaned it out and re-sealed it, good. If you should ever get a bad odor in that room, your seal is probably failing and it should be replaced, by the landlord. I had a clean out in an apartment I lived in years ago and I just doubled sealed it with two of those plugs.... I was big on overkill. If you ever did observe water leaking out of it, you do not want to remove the plug to see what's going on, it would indicate a clog down stream and stuff would flow all over your room...

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  • 2
    Yes! Don't take out the plug if there's trouble.... – Greg Nickoloff Feb 10 at 18:02
  • @GregNickoloff If you ever make that mistake... you only make it once.. – JACK Feb 10 at 18:07
  • Very true. (Don't ask me how I know.) – Greg Nickoloff Feb 10 at 18:10

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