How to Retrieve Items from a Drain

Oh no! You set your rings on the bathroom counter while you were washing your hands, but accidentally knocked one into the sink and it went down the drain!
Or maybe your toddler thought it was fun to watch a small toy soldier “go on an adventure” down the kitchen sink.

The potential scenarios are almost endless, but whatever your item that has journeyed into the watery depths of the household plumbing, there is a good chance you can retrieve it yourself with a little know-how and a couple of basic tools. Here’s what to do.

First, if the water is running in the sink, immediately turn it off.

Next, with the aid of a flashlight, look down inside the drain to see if you can spot the object. If you’re lucky, it’s not far down the pipe and you can pull it out with a long tweezer, grabber or even a hanger bent into a loop.

If you can’t see the item, however, you’ll need to switch into DIY plumber mode.

1. Take a look underneath the sink. You’ll see that the plumbing extends straight down, but then curves back upward into a “U” shape. The bottom curve of that U is the P-trap, and most likely, your lost item is sitting inside it.

2. Set a bucket underneath the P-trap before going any further.

3. Now you’ll need to loosen the slip nuts that hold the P-trap in place. In many homes, they are made of plastic and you’ll be able to loosen them by hand. If not, you’ll need to use an adjustable wrench to loosen them. (Remember, “Lefty loosey, righty tighty.”)

4. Carefully remove the P-trap. Be prepared for water and gunk to drain into the bucket. Hopefully, your lost item will fall out as well.

5. After retrieving your jewelry or other item, wipe any build-up of grunge out of the pipe, and then place it back into its proper position.

6. Re-tighten the slip nuts, and then turn the water supply back on.

7. Before removing the bucket, make sure there are no leaks underneath the sink.

Generally, this entire procedure is a simple one, but if you are unable to retrieve your lost item, or your plumbing situation is more complicated than the typical home setup, it’s time to call a plumbing professional.