The drains of your home may seem like black holes, but they’re actually not. They feed through to a series of pipes, but there are traps and bends along the way where larger items may become lodged. This means that if you drop something down the drain in your upstairs bathroom, there is a chance that you can retrieve it before it meets the main sewer line out by your curb.
Shut Down the Water Immediately
The second you realize something important has gone down the drain, shut off the water to prevent it from washing further down the line. Avoid using water from other fixtures until you’ve either retrieved the item or spoken with a professional plumber for more assistance.
Get the Magnet Out
When you drop a metal item down the drain, there’s a chance that it’s magnetic. In this case, you can tie a string around a small magnet and lower it into the drain to try retrieving the piece. Another option is to use a shop vacuum to try retrieving the item without putting anything into the drain.
Start with the P-Trap
If you look below your sink, you’ll notice that the plumbing line goes down before curving back up. This is called the P-Trap, and it’s designed to keep a certain amount of water in the line so that sewer gases won’t rise up through your drain and become a nuisance. Slightly heavier items like rings and earrings may wind up sitting in this trap if the water flow has been light enough.
You should be able to remove this bend by unscrewing the two slip nuts and taking it out. Be sure to put a bucket below it to capture the water that’s sitting in the trap. If you’re not comfortable handling this on your own, a plumbing service will be more than happy to assist you.
Move on to the Snake
If you don’t find the item in the trap, then it may be effective to have a company snake out the line. As drain lines move through a home, there are bends and different areas where the slope decreases. Items can easily settle in these spaces and wait for another powerful flush of water, so there’s a chance that you’ll find it. However, most people don’t have 25- or 50-foot lines at home for snaking out a home’s plumbing system, so you’ll need to turn to the professionals for assistance.
Dropping anything down your drains can be upsetting, but it may not be as devastating as you think. If you’re not sure about taking your drains apart, then just shut down the water and call in the professionals. With a little help and creativity, it may be possible to retrieve the item that you’ve lost.