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What to do When You Drop Something Down the Drain

What to do When You Drop Something Down the Drain


Coastal Drains cover East and West Sussex along the south coast of England.*If you would like to hire us to recover something you’ve dropped down the drain, or have a blocked drain, we only cover approximately a 25-mile radius of Lancing, West Sussex.

Coastal Drains catchment area

Coastal Drains catchment area

When you drop something down the drain, it can often feel like it’s gone forever but you can get things back! Here at Coastal Drains, we know that losing things down the drain is a common occurrence. Often, we don’t think it will ever happen to us and then, when it does, we don’t know what to do! Whether you’ve lost a ring in the washing up, dropped an earring or two down the sink, or dropped your car keys down a street drain, there are often ways you can retrieve these objects. Read on to discover our top tips for retrieving your possessions from the drains before they are washed away!

Street Drains

Firstly, let’s start with street drains, the most common drains we drop our car keys or mobile phones down. If you have had the unfortunate experience of dropping an item down a public drain, things can get a little complicated. Our first word of advice would be to avoid sticking your hand through the bars and reach for it as this can often cause your arm to become stuck. Instead, call your local council or water authority and alert them of the problem. Representatives of these organisations will be required to retrieve any lost possessions for you but they will usually charge for the service. Unfortunately, because this type of work is not considered priority, you may have to wait a while as the services may not arrive until outside of working hours. However, often, they should be able to retrieve your lost item for you.

Sink Plughole

Dropping items down sink plugholes is a common occurrence in most households. Logic would suggest that most items dropped down household plugholes are small and likely to be objects such as jewellery or small screws. If the distance between the plughole and the bottom of the u-bend is relatively short, you may be able to get away with dangling a short magnet down the pipe on a string (if your jewellery is magnetic). If that does not work, the only option is to take the pipework apart to retrieve your lost valuables. Although this process is relatively straight forward, we have laid out the various steps to reduce the risk of damage to your sink and pipes.

Step 1: Turn off the Water

Turning off the water is the first and most essential step to successfully retrieving your lost items. If you run the tap after dropping your items down the drain, it is extremely likely they will be washed away. As soon as you drop an item down your sink, turning off the water is essential and it also ensures that you do not flood your property while taking apart the pipework.

Step 2: Set Up a Bucket

Once you have turned off the water and before you start taking apart the drain, place a bucket beneath the pipes to catch any excess water. Placing a bucket underneath all pipework will also catch any items you lost down the drain as they fall out.

Step 3: Take off the Drain Plug

If you can see your items at the bottom of the drain, begin by taking apart the drain plug and place something underneath it so that it won’t close. Next, position yourself underneath the sink and find the horizontal pivot arm that is attached to the plug. It will usually have a nut you can loosen by hand and a clip that links it to the plunger arm. Make sure you look at how the drain fits together before you take it apart – otherwise, you may run into problems with reassembly. Once you have the drain plug and plunger separated from the arm, you should be able to pull the item straight out of the drain using a magnetic or grasping tool. You can purchase such tools in most hardware stores.

Step 4: Put Everything Back Together

Once you have successfully retrieved your lost item, it is time to put the pipes back together. To reassemble your sink drain, simply follow the above steps in reverse to put everything back together again.