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Remove Items from a Sink Drain

Construction How-To, Plumbing - Directory, Repairs January 22, 2014 Sonia


Tips for Retrieving Items Dropped in a Sink Drain

By Robert Robillard

 

 

 

My brother is a plumber and has shared stories of some bizarre items he’s had to retrieve from plumbing drains. From cell phones to a TV remote, toy army men to eyeglasses—you name it, and he’s retrieved it from a toilet or sink.

In the kitchen, how many times have folks taken off their rings to wash dishes only to accidently knock one of them down the drain?  Sound familiar? Just ask my wife.

Whether you’re trying to retrieve a small metallic item or just trying to save yourself from finally buying “that bigger diamond ring,” the steps are pretty much the same.

This article will guide you through the steps necessary to easily retrieve such items as rings, coins and more from a sink drain.

Safety Precaution

From expensive jewelry to toy army men—you name it, and it's probably fallen down a drain. First step is to remove the drain plug and try to pull the object from the top of the sink.

From expensive jewelry to toy army men—you name it, and it’s probably fallen down a drain. First step is to remove the drain plug and try to pull the object from the top of the sink.

A word to the wise: Plumbing, especially in older homes, can be fragile. Improperly installed or corroded plumbing connections can break, causing thousands of dollars in water damage. Just imagine buying a new, “bigger” diamond ring in addition to a new ceiling or hardwood floor.

If you feel that your pipes may fall into this category then call a plumber for an evaluation.

It’s always a good idea to shut off the water at the faucet prior to working on the trap beneath the sink. I learned this the hard way one day when one of my children stepped over me and let the water run prior to getting a glass of water.

The pivot arm of the drain plug is attached to the faucet’s control lever by a retainer clip.

The pivot arm of the drain plug is attached to the faucet’s control lever by a retainer clip.

Most likely your item is still in your house plumbing and hope-fully it’s resting at the bottom of the sink’s P-trap. The P-trap is the U-shaped pipe under the sink that holds water to stop sewer gases from coming back up through the drainage pipes. The P-trap can be found in common household fixtures such as sinks, bathtubs, showers, laundry sinks and much more. Fixtures such as bidets and toilets have a trap built into them.

Pinch the retainer clip with your fingers to release tension and slide it off the pivot arm.

Pinch the retainer clip with your fingers to release tension and slide it off the pivot arm.

 

The size of the pipe depends on the size of the fixture. The larger the plumbing fixture, the larger the drain pipe. Kitchen and bath sinks typically drain into 1-1/4- or 1-1/2-in. waste pipe. Two-inch pipes are common for laundry drains, and 3-in. pipes are used for most residential toilets.

Unscrew the nut that holds the pivot arm so it can be removed from the sink’s tail-piece. You can then lift the drain plug out of the sink.

Unscrew the nut that holds the pivot arm so it can be removed from the sink’s tail-piece. You can then lift the drain plug out of the sink.

Retrieving Lost Items

If the dropped item was caught and is still inside the sink’s P-trap, there are three possible scenarios. The best case scenario is when you can see the item and are able to use a retrieval tool to grab it out.

The tools shown can help you retrieve lost items from a drain pipe.

The tools shown can help you retrieve lost items from a drain pipe.