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How to Retrieve an Item Dropped Down the Drain

How to retrieve an item dropped down the drain.


  • : If you drop something down a sink with a garbage disposal unit, unplug the power unit before proceeding with the following steps.
  • Step 1: Try a magnet If your item is magnetic, try dangling a magnet down the drain with string or use a magnetic screwdriver.
  • Step 2: Empty the cabinet No luck? You are going to need to disassemble the pipes, so if you're storing anything in the cabinet under your sink, empty it out to give you room to work.
  • Step 3: Turn off the water Use the valves under the sink to turn off the water flow.
  • Step 4: Locate the trap Locate the pipe trap, which is the U-shaped bend in your sink's piping. Your item is most likely resting in this curve.
  • Step 5: Position bucket Lay down a towel and place your bucket or a deep pan underneath the pipes.
  • TIP: Some sinks have a small drain plug on the pipe trap. Although the drain will probably be smaller than your item, try removing the plug and let the water (and hopefully your item) drain into the bucket. If it's not there, proceed to the next step.
  • Step 6: Loosen the slip nuts With pliers or a pipe wrench, loosen the two large slip nuts connecting the trap to the rest of the piping. When they are loose enough, finish the job with your hand.
  • TIP: If your pipes are chrome, line the jaws of your pliers or wrench with electrical or duct tape to avoid scratching them. If your trap is plastic, use only your fingers -- otherwise you could damage it.
  • Step 7: Remove and empty the trap Remove the trap and carefully turn it upside down to empty the contents into your bucket or pan.
  • Step 8: Find your item Put on rubber gloves and dig through all the gooey sludge in the bucket to find your item.
  • Step 9: Reassemble the piping Replace the pipe trap and the sealant ring in the line of piping. Begin tightening the slip nuts with your hand and then—if your trap is metal—secure them with your wrench or pliers.
  • Step 10: Test for leaks Turn the water flow back on, fill the sink with water, and then release the drain to test the pipe for leaks. If water is leaking out, tighten the slip nuts.
  • Step 11: Clean up Before replacing the items under your sink, you might as well give the cabinet a quick clean.
  • Step 12: Buy and install a drain guard Buy and install a drain guard to prevent this from happening again!
  • FACT: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida city employees once found a $30,000 diamond ring in the sewer system.

You Will Need

  • A bucket or deep pan
  • Rubber gloves
  • Pliers or a pipe wrench
  • Towels
  • A drain guard
  • A magnet
  • Some string
  • A magnetic screwdriver
  • Electrical or duct tape
  • Cleaning supplies

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