How to Remove Items That Fall Down a Drain
At some time everyone has dropped an item into a sink or drain and had to figure out how to retrieve it. Whether you are in the shower, washing dishes, or even brushing your teeth, something eventually falls down the drain. It could be an expensive ring, hairpins, a small toy, or even a screw from eyeglasses. If you have ever experienced this situation, the best thing to do is remain calm and you will almost always get this item back before it leaves the drain line. You can remove the item using basic plumbing skills and tools.
This is usually a no-brainer, but you need to immediately turn off the water to prevent the object from traveling further down the drain and beyond a point where you can easily secure the item.
Pump Pliers or pipe wrench
Under your sink there is typically a pipe called a P-trap; The P-trap is the section of piping that looks like the letter P on its side and it is usually located directly under your sink. The bottom of the trap will keep heavier items from continuing to flow through the drain line. This is also where a lot of sludge and debris accumulates so this may also help to keep the object in this area. You need to remove the P-trap to get to your item.
Bathroom sinks usually have a stopper that will need to be removed first. The stopper lever is inserted into the back of the tailpiece directly under the sink. Unscrew the cap holding the lever in place and remove the lifting rod and the stopper.
Place a bucket or small container under the trap to catch any water inside the pipe.
Newer PVC drain lines are usually only hand tight, but you may need to use pump pliers to loosen the nuts that connect the P-trap to the other pipes and your drain. When the nuts are free you can use loosen them completely by hand.
With the P-trap free place the bucket under it to catch any water and then dump out the remaining water.
Look through the dirty water and debris you collected in the bucket. After you have located your lost item, wash out the P-trap and replace it.
If your sink has a garbage disposal, use caution. Never stick your fingers into the disposal to try and retrieve your item. Shut off the power to the disposal at the circuit breaker. Disconnect the disposal from under the sink by rotating the clamping ring. You may need to insert a screwdriver into the ring to help you twist it.
With the garbage disposal free from the sink, you will have enough space to reach into the unit and pull out the item, or tip it over and dump the contents into a bucket.
Showers and Tubs:
Remove the stopper from the drain. If it is a pop-up stopper, you should be able to turn it counterclockwise to unscrew it from the drain. Quarter-turn drain stoppers typically have a grooved handle on top which you can unscrew to reveal another screw underneath. This retaining screw can be turned to remove the stopper.
Make sure your wet/dry vacuum is clean and the filter is removed before you start. Make sure it is plugged into a GFCI receptacle. Place the hose over the drain and make a tight seal and turn it on to remove your item from the drain. Empty the tank of the vacuum cleaner of any dust or debris.
Turn the vacuum cleaner off and unplug it. Remove the cover to locate your item.