Down the Drain: The Plumber’s Guide to Recovering Lost Items

Losing something down the drain is one of the worst feelings you can have. People flush or rinse things down the drain with the idea that it will be gone forever, so that feeling of panic when you lose a wedding ring or an earring down the sink is understandable. However, you don’t have to write off anything you lose down the drain as a loss. It’s very possible to get it back, although it does require a little bit of work.

There are different kinds of drains in your home, from the sinks in your kitchen and bathroom to a floor drain in your shower. Retrieving a lost item from any of them usually requires most of the same techniques, however. Here are the steps you generally have to take in order to remove an object from a drain.

Shut Off Your Water

Before you do anything else when removing an object from a drain, you should shut off your water. Even if you can see the object at the bottom of the drain, you can still flood your bathroom or kitchen if you’re not careful. If you’re dealing with a sink, the shutoff valve should be underneath or behind the fixture; it should be easy to find in any case.

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Remove the Drain Plug

If you can see the item that you dropped down a sink, your next step should be to remove the drain plug. First, lift up the plug and brace it with something so it won’t close on you. Next, go underneath the sink and locate the pivot arm that is attached to the plug. There is usually a nut that has to be loosened before you can do this, but that can be done by hand. Once you’ve separated the pivot arm from the plug, you should be able to remove the plug easily.

Pull Out the Object with the Proper Tools

If you can see the object at the bottom of the drain, you should be able to get it out if you have the right tools. Objects made from certain metals can be removed with a magnetic telescoping rod. Other objects such as gold and silver jewelry will require a grasping tool with spring-loaded prongs that can grip the object. These tools are fairly cheap and can be purchased at any hardware store. If you don’t have one handy, a bent coat hanger might work, but if you’re not careful you could just push the object further down the drain.

Remove the P-Trap

The P-trap is a u-shaped pipe that prevents sewer gas from coming up your drain. Most objects that are lost down sinks end up here, so you can find what you’re looking for if you disassemble the P-trap. This shouldn’t be too difficult when it comes to a bathroom sink, but you may need a plumber’s help if it isn’t immediately visible. If you can see the drain plug, put a bucket underneath the P-trap and unscrew it. There will still be some water in the trap, so the bucket is a must. After you loosen all the trap’s slip nuts, it should come right off. If there are no slip nuts, the trap will have to be cut off. Make sure you call a plumber for this.

Not all items can be removed from a drain, but most will come out if you remove the P-trap. You may be out of luck if this isn’t the case, but consider calling a plumber anyway. You might be surprised by what a professional can accomplish with the proper tools and training.

If your lost items down the drain appear to be slightly beyond your reach, get in touch with the Pittsburgh plumbing pros and reach out to the experts at Mister Sewer. Using the latest plumbing technology and their state-of-the-art sewer camera inspection services, Mister Sewer is able to accurately and efficiently locate all your lost items and keep your drains flowing freely. For lost items down the drain, pipe burst, clogs and more, contact the plumbing professionals at Miser Sewer to keep your home’s plumbing in tiptop shape.

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