Have you just dropped something down the bathroom sink drain and are unsure how to get it out?
Many people have been in the same situation. And while the experience can be alarming, there are ways you can fish out that precious item—whatever it may be—from the drain.
In most cases, the item can get caught in the p-trap—the tube connecting your sink to the wall fixture. However, some situations might be more severe than others.
Not to worry, this article shows you exactly how to get something out of a sink drain.
How to get something out of the kitchen or bathroom sink drain
Dropping something down the bathroom or kitchen sink is not unheard of. It happens to people all the time—especially those with particularly clumsy hands.
Fortunately, there are simple tricks to getting your lost items back.
Three of the most common are:
- Using the magnet trick
- Using a grasping tool
- Disassembling the p-trap
We’ll show you each method, from the simplest to the trickiest, to help you retrieve your lost item.
Method #1: Using the magnet trick
It can feel like the end of the world when you drop something down the drain. If the item you dropped is metallic, retrieval should be possible with the help of a strong magnet.
Plumbers typically use a telescoping magnet for this process. This tool looks like a wand with a small magnet attached to one of its tips.
These magnets are strong enough to carry small objects out of the drain pipe, like necklaces, rings, and earrings. But for larger objects, you may need to resort to method two.
How to remove the drain plug?
The first thing you need to do in the retrieval process is to remove the drain plug from the sink.
Some drain plugs can be removed simply by pulling them out. Generally, the process goes something like this:
- Locate the sink plunger, which looks like a small pin sticking out from behind the faucet.
- Pull it up to close the drain plug.
- Look for the horizontal pivot arm that should be underneath the sink. A small metal rod extending from the fixture’s hole to the p-trap should be there.
- Unscrew the pivot nut that’s connecting the metal rod with the p-trap.
- Find the clip that attaches the sink plunger to the metal rod. Unclip it to loosen the sink plunger.
- Remove the metal rod; this should loosen the drain plug in the sink completely.
- After this, you can extract the drain plug from the sink.
Note: Make sure to have a small bucket in hand to catch any excess water from the drain.
How to use the magnet trick?
After performing the steps above, you next need to lower the magnetic end of the telescoping rod down the drain. Once you hit the bottom of the p-trap, slowly pull back the telescoping magnet.
This gives you a better chance of catching the item on your rod.
For drain pipes that are deeper than usual, you can attach a string to one end of a long stick or rod. On the end of the string, tie a small magnet and use this to retrieve the object from the sink drain.
Important: Gold and silver are not magnetic. Unless the item you lost is gold or silver plated, you won’t have any luck FISHING it out with a MAGNET.
Method #2: Using a grasping tool
If the item you’re trying to fish out of the drain is heavy, a grasping or grabber tool might be a better option to use in that situation.
The grasping tool is a long flexible rod with a handle on one end and a grabber on the other. It’s made of malleable wound-metal cables that can bend and bow where it needs to inside the drain.
Using a grabber tool allows you to reach further down the sink drain, making it easier to retrieve items that have fallen too deep into the drain.
How to use a grasping tool?
To use a grasping or grabber tool is simple. Just slide the end with the grabber down the drain pipe to where you think the item you dropped might be.
Next, squeeze the handle to open the grabber and release it to close the grabber back up.
Slowly pull the tool from the pipe to avoid accidentally dropping it again.
Method #3: Disassembling the P-trap/Drain Pipe
This next method can be a little tricky, especially for people who haven’t experienced doing it in the past.
If you’re not confident in your DIY plumbing skills, getting professional help might be a better idea.
Certified plumbers have all the necessary equipment to ensure nothing goes wrong during maintenance.
They can even provide drain camera inspection to accurately determine where your precious item has dropped to.
Otherwise, these are the steps to follow to disassemble the p-trap:
Step 1: Shut off the water
You should shut off the water supply as soon as you realize you’ve dropped something down the drain. This prevents the object from slipping further down the drain.
Step 2: Remove everything under the sink
You’ll be spending several hours under your sink, so you want it to be clear of all things, e.g., toilet cleaners, sprayers, and other items.
Step 3: Prepare a bucket
P-traps collect sludge and debris over time, likely seeping out as soon as you open the pipe up. If you don’t want this to spill all over you, you’ll need a bucket to catch everything with.
Step 4: Locate the p-trap
A p-trap isn’t that difficult to locate. As its name suggests, it looks like the letter “P” facing down.
Most p-traps are made of PVC piping, but some are made of hard steel.
The p-trap connects your sink to the sewer line within the walls.
Part of the p-trap chain is a short U-pipe that prevents sewer gases from leaking into your home.
Step 5: Remove the Drain plug
You can use the steps we highlighted in method #1.
Step 6: Check the drain opening
Sometimes, your item can get stuck in the drain opening, making it easier to retrieve.
You can use a pair of pliers to grab it instead of your fingers.
If your item has fallen deeper into the pipes, you may need to use either method #1 or #2.
If those methods don’t work, proceed to the next step of removing the p-trap.
Step 7: Undo the slip nuts
P-traps have nuts on either side of their 90-degree joints. These are called slip nuts.
To remove the p-trap, loosen these two slip nuts, but don’t remove them immediately.
These slip nuts are what keep the overflow pipe in place. So, before removing them, ensure you have your bucket in hand.
Slip nuts can typically be loosened by hand. But in cases where the slip nut is wound a little tighter than usual, you may want to use a pair of pliers or a wrench.
Important: Avoid APPLYING too much pressure on the slip nuts since this can strip them of their protective covering and cause damage.
Use your pliers only to loosen the nuts to a point where you can continue the process by hand.
Step 8: Remove the overflow pipe
Once you’ve loosened the slip nuts and have positioned your bucket appropriately, slowly remove the overflow pipe.
Turn it over in your bucket and let it empty itself of its contents. You’ll see a lot of gunk and debris piling up in your pipes during this process.
Your lost item should be there too.
Step 9: Clean the overflow pipe
After you retrieve the item, the next step is to clean the overflow pipe of slime and other debris.
Make sure to have a soft-bristled brush, water, and cleaning liquid handy for the job.
Doing this step will help prevent your drain from getting clogged in the future.
Wash out the pipe and dry with a clean cloth or towel.
Step10: Re-install the overflow pipe
Re-installing the overflow pipe should be easy enough. Make sure either end is aligned with the right attachment hole.
Place one slip nut on either end of the pipe. Tighten one nut with your hand to hold the pipe in place before tightening the other.
Step 11: Re-attach the Drain plug
Locate the sink plunger and re-install it in its hole behind the faucet.
Attach the plunger to the metal rod and screw the rod back into the pivot nut on the p-trap.
Finally, place the drain plug back into the drain opening.
Turn the water back on and check to see if there are any leaks in your plumbing.
Need Professional Drain Cleaning?
Maintaining your plumbing system is no easy task. If you’re overwhelmed or feeling confused about your plumbing situation, contacting a professional to assist you with your problem is ideal.
Our technicians have years of experience under their belt. Whether it’s professional drain cleaning or sewer line installation that you need, there’s no doubt that our plumbers can do it for you.
Contact us today to book an appointment!