NDI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing

How to Retrieve Items that Wash Down the Drain

The Saving Grace of a P-Trap

As soon as you see an item slide into the drain, turn the water off immediately. This will decrease the chance of the item getting carried down to the drain stack, at which point it will drop into the sewer line, never to be seen again. However, if the water is stopped in time, the item will likely remain in the trap under the sink.

Jewelry is probably the most frequent item to get washed into the drain plumbing. Fortunately, it’s also one of the easiest things to retrieve. Because metal and gemstones sink in water, this increases the chance that they will sink to the bottom of the plumbing trap. Nevertheless, you should try to retrieve any solid object that goes down the drain, even if it’s of little or no value. If the object gets stuck in the trap, it will start to accumulate hair and debris and may eventually cause a clog in your drain plumbing.

Successful Retrieval

The trap under your sink is actually designed to keep sewer odors from backing up into your sink, but it also doubles as a convenient way to catch lost items. To get your valuables back, you’ll first need to open up the trap. The exact procedure will vary depending on your specific drain plumbing, but some general principles apply.

Next, set a bucket under the trap to catch any water that spills out. Then, use a wrench or pliers to remove the “J” part of the trap from the rest of the drain plumbing. In some systems that use plastic pipes, you can just unscrew the slip nuts by hand. Once the nuts are loose, you can pull the trap off the pipes and shake out your lost item. This is also a good opportunity to clean the trap- they often get filled with gunk over time, which can potentially harbor harmful biofilm.

Putting it All Back Together

Once you have your item back, all you need to do is put the drain plumbing back together the same way it came apart. If you don’t succeed on your own and need help retrieving the valuable item that washed down the drain, contact NDI Plumbing today!

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