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What to do if you lose a ring in your sink drain

It’s one of the oldest mishaps in the book — you’re washing your hands, or you swipe too quickly across the edge of the sink, and in less than a second, before you can even react, you hear that distinct *tink*, *tink*, *plop* — your ring has tumbled down the drain. Luckily, you are not the first person to end up in this scenario, and with plenty of people blazing the trail before you, there are several tried-and-true steps to follow to get that ring out of the sink drain.

Depending on the type of drain, there are slightly different steps to follow, but the first and most important is the same in all scenarios: don’t panic. The second most important step across the board: if the tap is running, shut it off! This will keep the ring from being washed further down the drain and into the pipes. With the water off, your next plan of attack depends on if you’re retrieving a ring from a sink with or without a garbage disposal.

If You Lost a Ring in a Sink Without a Garbage Disposal

1. Try using a magnet

If the ring you lost down the drain is gold or silver, this step will need to be skipped, as gold and silver are not magnetic metals. However, if your ring is iron, steel, nickel, or any other magnetic metal, this is a technique to try. Securely tie a magnet to a string or cord, and lower it into the sink. With any luck, the ring will attach to the magnet and can be slowly raised back out of the sink.

2. Turn off the water supply

With the tap already off, make sure to also shut off the main water supply before proceeding to the next steps. This can be done by closing the valves underneath the sink, or by shutting off the main water supply to your home.

3. Place a bucket under the P-Trap

This is where the ring retrieval process becomes much more involved. The P-Trap is the curved pipe underneath the sink, and the likely resting place of the ring dropped down the drain. Place a bucket underneath the P-Trap in preparation for catching any water in the next steps.

4. Remove the P-Trap

a plumbr holding a leaking pipe

If you’ve never attempted this process before, and you feel like it’s something too far outside of your comfort zone, it may be best to leave this step to a professional. Some P-Traps come with an access plug (also known as a drain plug or clean out plug). Removing this plug will let the contents of the P-Trap drain straight into the bucket underneath, and should produce the ring if it as in the P-Trap. Replace the plug once done.

If there is no plug, the P-Trap can be removed using the nuts at either end of the u-bend pipe. Loosening the nuts on either end, the u-bend pipe can be removed. If either trap fastener is proving difficult to unscrew, a wrench can be used to loosen the nut, but be careful not to damage or strip the nut in the process.

5. Empty the P-Trap

Dump the contents of the P-Trap into the bucket. If the ring is in the water, congratulations! Re-attach the P-Trap, and you’re all set.

If not, the ring may be stuck further up in the kitchen sink tailpiece (the metal pipe connected to the “front” of the P-Trap), which should now be easier to retrieve with your hands or a bit of wire before replacing the P-Trap. If the ring is further lodged deeper into the sinks piping, it’s most likely time to throw in the towel and call in a professional.  

If You Lost a Ring in a Sink With a Garbage Disposal

1. Cut the Power

Dealing with a garbage disposal adds the extra layer of dealing with electricity in addition to water. To avoid being shocked while recovering a ring that washed down the drain, make sure the power to the disposal is turned off in addition to making sure the water has been turned off. This is best done at the electrical breaker, rather than just using the switch, to fully ensure no electrical accidents take place.

2. Locate and Extract

If the ring can be seen within the disposal from outside the drain, try to retrieve it using a utensil or wire before using your hands, to avoid being hurt while fishing for the ring.

3. Try the P-Trap

If the ring can’t be located by site, and it appears to have gone further into the sink, it’s also possible it was washed into the sink’s P-Trap. Try retrieving it by following the steps laid out above in the “Without a Garbage Disposal” section.

4. Call it in

If the ring has become lodged in the grinder of the garbage disposal or found its way further into the sink than is accessible, it’s best to throw in the towel and call in an expert to handle the recovery.

In either scenario, there’s no shame in turning to a licensed professional to recover a ring that’s down the sink drain. Dealing with plumbing, even in matters that seem simple, can create more major issues, and the best way to avoid that is to let someone experienced take the reins. If you’ve found yourself in need of an emergency ring retrieval, or if there are other plumbing issues that have arisen, consider reaching out to Duane Blanton Plumbing, Sewer & Drainage, Inc. The experts of Duane Blanton can answer any question and are ready to help out with any plumbing issue that you’ve found. Give their licensed professionals a call at (815) 781-2567, or reach out online via their online scheduling portal today!

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