Retrieval Tips for Items Lost in the Plumbing

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If you are anything like me, you are constantly dropping, losing, and forgetting things.  Have you ever dropped something precious down the drain? Maybe it was a wedding ring, necklace chain, key, or something else that is priceless to you.

Whether you left your ring on the side of the sink while you were doing the dishes and accidentally knocked it in, or were cleaning the sink and dropped your grandma’s locket down the drain there are a few things you can do to get these items removed.

Before you do anything, keep in mind that turning on the water may only cause the item to slide further down the drain.  Check the P-trap first.

Check the U-Bend

For items you can’t see inside the drain, check the u-bend. Instead of having a full-fledged breakdown, try this do-it-yourself method first.  The u-bend, or P-trap as the plumber will call it, is the part of the drain that looks like the letter U. It is often the first place a plumber will check for missing or lost items. It is there to catch anything that isn’t supposed to go down the drain.

The P-trap can be found in sinks, bathtubs, showers and even toilets.

Before trying to remove the P-trap to check for your item, turn off the water; grab some gloves, a wrench, and a small bucket. You will need to catch anything that may immediately fall from the pipes.   Most of the time, this is an easy process and can be done by hand or with a wrench.

Sometimes retrieval may be easier with a magnet, some type of pronged tool and a flashlight.

Use a Magnetic or Pronged Tool

If the item is magnetic (gold and silver are not), and you can see it in the drain, try using a magnet to retrieve it.  You can find telescopic magnetic tools built specifically for the plumbing at your local hardware store.

A pronged tool is another way to get back items that can still be seen in the drain. It is usually used to grab items that are just a little out of your reach.

You could also try a simple plumber’s snake that is used to unclog drains.

Remove the Drain Stopper

Removing the drain stopper often works best on a bathroom sink.  It usually also involves getting under the sink and removing a small nut that is used to assemble the stopper. To get the items using this method, use the following steps:

  1. Turn off the water
  2. Put something under the plug so that it will not close (a screwdriver is commonly suggested)
  3. Loosen and remove the small nut that is located under the sink, as mentioned above.
  4. Pull the horizontal lever down and then out towards the wall. You can then remove the stopper completely.

While you have these parts of the drain off, you may want to do a thorough cleaning.

Call a Plumber

Unfortunately, if you can’t get to the item by using one of these methods, or don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you will probably want to contact a professional. However, as can be expected, it will definitely be more costly than doing it on your own.

By Heidi Rothert

Heidi Rothert writes content for Salt Lake plumbing, HVAC, construction, and similar service industries in Utah and throughout the country.  She is constantly improving and adding to her portfolio.