How to Get a Ring Out of the Sink Drain

    I woke up this morning at my sister's house in San Francisco, after flying here yesterday for a family reunion. I'm used to my bathroom in Brooklyn, and I wasn't really mindful of what I was doing when I woke up and rolled into the bathroom. I pulled my wedding ring and my engagement ring off of my finger when I washed my hands ... and experienced that moment of horror and disbelief you feel only when your diamond engagement ring slips out of your fingers and into the drain of an unfamiliar bathroom sink.

    "No," I groaned. "No. Nooooooooooo. Nooooooooooo."

    My sister came to the bathroom and exclaimed, "You didn't."

    "I did," I replied.

    "Oh my G-d, you dropped your ring down the drain!" shouted my sister. It was 6:30 AM. She had just finished diapering her baby. The gentle foggy dawn of morning in San Francisco was the only light in the house, save the bathroom fixture.

    "I can get it out. I just need a wrench, a bucket, and a wire hanger," I told her. I really was that cool, and I'll tell you why. I have cleaned out a few P-traps (AKA U-bends) before, and I knew that the ring had not gone far. I figured it was stuck in a wad of hair in the bottom of the P-trap.

    Before attempting the full P-trap clean-out, I thought I'd try to get the ring out of the drain by fishing for it with a wire hanger bent into a hook.

    The results were lackluster. I pulled up a bunch of hair and shmutz.

    At that point, I knew it was time to bring in the big guns in order to get my diamond engagement ring out of the sink drain. I got out my sister's lone wrench, positioned a plastic bowl under the sink, and turned off the water supply. And then...the wrench was too small to fit around the pipe connectors.

    I thought about calling a San Francisco plumber, but knew I could do it myself if I had a bigger wrench. My sister, who was more upset athan I was (I don't think she realized how easy it is to get a ring out of a drain), offered to drive me to Home Depot. I thanked her profusely and accepted.

    I got dressed, and brushed my teeth, which I had to do in her kitchen (since the bathroom sink was out of service) while my sister fed her baby oatmeal.

    We were the only non-contractors in Home Depot at 7:30 AM. I bought a nice, big adjustable plumbing wrench. It cost $14.50, a lot less money than hiring a plumber. Also, there is just something inherently embarrassing to me about calling a plumber to empty a P-trap, when it is such an easy DIY plumbing repair.

    (Thank you, Daly City Starbucks. The Americano with cold soy milk made the whole ordeal okay.)

    I loosened the pipe connector with the wrench. Righty tighty, lefty loosie. 

    Then I pulled the P-trap out. Boom. It's that easy. Most P-traps have one end with a pipe connector that has to be unscrewed, and the other end is just a shoe that the sink's drain pipe fits into. Sometimes, though, you need to loosen a pipe connector at both ends; simply unscrew the pipe connector(s), and pull down. I dumped the P-trap into a bowl, and out came a bunch of grungy water, hair, weird brown bits, and my engagement ring!!

    With literally zero stress and misery, I got my engagement ring containing my great grandmother's diamond (!) out of the drain. I put the P-trap back in, and tightened the pipe connector. I turned the water back on, and then cleaned the gunk from the P-trap out of the sink.

    So the moral of the story is: If you drop a ring down a sink drain, there is no need to panic. Just don't run the water. Take out the P-trap, and dump it out. Your ring will probably be there, along with (possibly) other long lost treasures.

    Chaya Kurtz writes for

    Updated March 5, 2018.

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