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If you're like me, you lose an earring down your bathroom sink about once a year. I used to think that if something fell down the drain it was gone forever; now I know it's probably just stuck in the p-trap.

A p-trap is that curved pipe underneath your sink that is strategically designed to catch anything that falls down the drain by mistake. Okay, it's really designed with a curve in order to preventing noxious gases from backflowing into your house while still allowing waste to wash into the sewage system. Either way, it's one useful piece of plumbing.

Here's how to retrieve your p-trapped valuables:

Let's assume you've dropped a pricey diamond earring down there (scary, I know).

1. The very first step is to turn off the water supply to the sink by turning the shut-off valve, which should be right under the sink. If your sink doesn't have valves, then turn off the water supply to the house, either in your basement or outside by your meters.

Turn the shut-off valve to the right to temporarily turn off the water supply. Photo: Primer Magazine

2. Next, put on some
latex gloves and get under there. Place a bucket under the P-trap to catch water and other gunk that you'll encounter when you open up the pipes.


3. If you have plastic pipes, just remove the p-trap's slip nuts (those two large, raised areas of the pipe) and twist the pipe off. If you have metal piping, you might need to use an adjustable wrench. Once you've removed the pipe section you should be able to easily retrieve your item.

Time to reassemble! Just retrace your steps and screw the P-trap back together. Be sure that it is tight but don't over-tighten. Now, you're ready to turn the water back on and check for leaks.


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  • Gary D

    It would be nice if someone would invent a self-activated drain stopper to prevent contact lenses, etc. from going down the drain. Perhaps one could pull up on a handle (positioned just behind the faucet handle) which would in turn pull down on a "stopper" that would fit snugly over the drain opening. Whenever one performed intricate maneuvers over the sink they could activate the "stopper" (my own word I just made up) and prevent anything accidentally dropped into the sink from going down the drain. hmmm... This could save a lot of time and money! I'm calling my local patent office tomorrow to check patent availability. I'm gonna be a millionaire!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Robert N. Davenport

    With an ADD-A-TRAP you wouldn't have this problem.

  • 22 Comments / 2 Pages

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