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How to Retrieve an Item Dropped Down the Sink Drain

Bob Jackson
Last Updated on
by Bob Jackson

This project explains how to take apart the drain P-trap to recover an item accidentally dropped down the sink drain. Lost jewelry is a common occurence.

How to Retrieve an Item Dropped Down the Sink Drain

Small and sometimes expensive items are easily washed down the sink drain. Metallic items like jewelry will sink and can usually be retrieved from the plumbing drain trap under the sink. Be sure to turn off the water immediately to minimize any chance of the item getting flushed into the main sewer line. Taking apart the P-trap to recover a lost item is simple and can often be done without tools. This job took less than 15 minutes when my daughter lost an earring in the bathroom sink.

Earring lost in the Sink Drain
Earring lost in the Sink Drain

The steps shown here also apply to unclogging a sink.

Bathroom Sink Plumbing: P-Trap and J-Bend

A lost item will normally sink to the bottom of the J-bend in the P-trap. The purpose of the the P-trap is to maintain a water seal to prevent sewer gases from wafting out of the sink drain. It’s called a P-trap because it looks like the letter P.

Bathroom Sink Plumbing: P-Trap and J-Bend
Bathroom Sink Plumbing: P-Trap and J-Bend

Take Apart the J-Bend

Place a bucket under the J-Bend to catch the water.

Lost Item in Bathroom Sink Drain: Bucket under the P-Trap
Lost Item in Bathroom Sink Drain: Bucket under the P-Trap

Unscrew the slip nut at the J-Bend. Remember, lefty-loosey righty-tighty. No tools are required.

Bathroom Sink Drain: Unscrew the Slip Nut at the J-Bend
Bathroom Sink Drain: Unscrew the Slip Nut at the J-Bend

A nylon washer is under the slip nut. Let the slip nut rest loosely when fully unscrewed.

Retrieve Lost Item in Bathroom Sink Drain: P-Trap Slip Nut and Washer
Retrieve Lost Item in Bathroom Sink Drain: P-Trap Slip Nut and Washer

Unscrew the slip nut at the other side of the J-Bend.

Lost Item in Bathroom Sink Drain: Loosen the J-Bend Slip Nut
Lost Item in Bathroom Sink Drain: Loosen the J-Bend Slip Nut

Slide the slip nut up and out of the way on to the horizontal section of the P-trap as shown. I’m supporting the J-Bend with my hand here as it’s ready to drop down.

Retrieve Lost Item from Bathroom Sink Drain: Remove the J-Bend
Retrieve Lost Item from Bathroom Sink Drain: Remove the J-Bend

Well – what do you know? The earring didn’t sink to the bottom of the sink trap because it got tangled in a bunch of hair first (yuck!).

Retrieve Lost Item from Sink Drain: Trap J-Bend and lost Earring
Retrieve Lost Item from Sink Drain: Trap J-Bend and lost Earring

Lost earring retrieved from the sink drain.

Retrieve Lost Item in Sink Drain: Earring Retrieved from the P-Trap
Retrieve Lost Item in Sink Drain: Earring Retrieved from the P-Trap

This repair is continued in How to Retrieve an Item Dropped Down the Sink Drain -Part 2.

Take care,

Bob Jackson

bathroom sinkget lost item in drainhow to take apart a sink drainlost item in drainP-trap
Bob Jackson
Bob Jackson
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