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Most things that fall into a sink are too large to disappear down the drain, but occasionally, a favorite earring or even a wedding ring can tumble in and vanish before you can catch it.
It may be one of your most treasured belongings, but don’t panic. There’s a chance your item can be recovered with the help of a professional plumbing service.
While an expert with the proper knowledge and tools can efficiently solve the problem, there are a few things you can try on your own before calling a plumbing service.
1. Turn Off the Water
The first step is the most important to prevent the item from being carried further into the drainpipes. You likely turned off the faucet automatically, but it’s also a good idea to shut off the water valve under the sink. This stops someone from accidentally turning on the tap while you’re working on the drain or waiting for the plumbing service to arrive.
If you’re not sure how far your item has gone, turn off the main water supply to prevent valuables from washing into the sewer line.
2. Remove the Drain Stopper from the Sink
The hope is that your jewelry has only traveled as far as the curved piece of pipe directly underneath the drain, known as the P-trap.
To access the drain from the sink, take the sink stopper out. Unless you use an old-fashioned rubber plug to stop water from draining, bathroom sinks usually have a lever behind the faucet that lifts and lowers the stopper.
This type of drain stopper is attached to the drainpipe on a pivot rod beneath the sink. It needs to be disassembled from the sink to be removed. Once it’s detached, you can pull the stopper out of the sink.
3. Attempt to Reach the Lost Item
Shine a flashlight into the drain and look for the shiny sparkle of your ring or lost item. There are a few things you can try in order to reach it.
- Extend a telescopic magnet into the drain to attract a metallic item such as a cuff link, small toy or stray hardware such as a screwdriver bit. You may be able to attract jewelry that has some ferrous metal, but gold and silver aren’t magnetic.
- Use a long grasping tool that has a four-prong claw at the end. This can be tricky if you can’t see into the drain very well.
- Suction the item out with a wet-dry vacuum on the wet setting. Don’t use a regular vacuum as there may be water in the sink or drain. You can place a nylon stocking over the opening of the hose to block your item from being vacuumed up entirely.
If you don’t have these tools on hand, don’t hesitate to call a plumbing service for assistance. A professional plumbing service has the proper equipment to get the job done efficiently.
4. Prepare to Open the P-Trap
If you can’t recover the item through the sink drain, check the P-trap, which is the curved pipe underneath the sink. If you’re not comfortable working with the drain, an expert from a plumbing service can save you the worry and take care of it for you.
The P-trap stops gases from the sewer from rising up through the pipe into your home and also prevents clogs from traveling further into the pipes. There’s usually a small amount of water sitting in the P-trap that acts as a barrier, and hopefully, your item was caught by the trap.
Before you work on the P-trap, make sure the water valve under the sink is shut off to prevent flooding. Place a bucket underneath the trap to catch water and debris and have towels on hand in case of a mess. The water may be grimy so you may want to wear gloves.
If your item fell in a bathtub or shower drain, you won’t be able to access the trap. Consult with a plumbing service if the trap is under the floor or inside the bathroom wall.
5. Open the P-Trap
Some P-traps are conveniently designed with a clean-out plug at the bottom and can be drained easily. Open the plug with a pair of pliers and have a bucket ready to catch the water that drains out.
The clean-out plug may be too small for your item to get through, so you might need to take the trap apart by loosening the slip nuts. You may be able to do it by hand if the pipe is made of PVC. Use pliers or a wrench if needed. Be careful not to damage old, fragile pipes or strip threads on the nuts.
Carefully pull the P-trap out and empty the contents into the bucket. If you don’t see your item, look inside the P-trap to see if it’s stuck inside on some grime.
If the P-trap doesn’t have a clean-out plug or slip nuts to take it apart, call a plumbing service that’s equipped with the appropriate tools and expertise to cut the pipe.
Once you’ve retrieved your belongings, clean and reassemble the drain, and make sure to test it for leaks to make sure it’s put back together properly. Wash your recovered item thoroughly.
What if My Item Isn’t in the P-Trap?
If you didn’t find your belongings in the P-trap, it might have been carried further into the drain line. Don’t flush a toilet or run water in any part of the house as this can push your item into the main sewer. Call a plumbing service to assist with the next steps.
Save Yourself the Stress and Let a Plumbing Service Help
Losing valuables down the drain, especially precious heirlooms, can be stressful. Ease the anxiety by calling our expert, licensed plumbers right away. Whether you’ve dropped a wedding ring, earring or cuff link, bluefrog Plumbing + Drain has the knowledge and tools to help recover it. Call us at 1-844-HOP-TO-IT for all of your plumbing solutions.