Advice from a Plumber's Wife
Rescuing Jewelry from the Drain
Jon sometimes gets calls from frantic customers trying to rescue their jewelry from a drain. My favorite was the amazing woman who dropped her very expensive, newly acquired engagement ring down the bathroom sink. He told her NOT to run the water, and when he got there, he found the entire sink basin wrapped in a thick layer of painter's tape. There was absolutely no chance water was going to reach that drain!
He was able to rescue her ring because it got caught in something called the "P" trap. I'm not sure why it's called a "P" trap, because it doesn't look like a "P" to me, but every drain in your house should have one (except the toilet, and I'll get to that later). Here's a picture of what a "P" trap looks like:
The water, and your jewelry, goes down the drain and gets caught in the bend. The purpose of the trap is to hold water, which acts as a barrier to prevent sewer gasses from coming back up into your house. (As an aside, if you have a bathroom that you haven't used in a long time and it stinks, then you need to run some water down the drain because the water in the "P" trap will evaporate over time and let the sewer gasses in.) At any rate, the "P" trap can also catch your jewelry and a plumber can retrieve it, if you stop running the water quickly enough. Otherwise, it could get flushed up out of the "P" trap and down into your sewer line.
Like the poor lady above, I lost my engagement ring a month after Jon gave it to me. I knew I had it in the house, but we couldn't find it anywhere. We emptied every closet and snaked cameras down our floor vents. I even spent $300 to have our poor cat x-rayed because even though I was pretty sure she didn't eat it, I had to clear her as a suspect. She didn't eat it. The point of this story is that x-raying the cat is sort of like looking in the sewer line for your jewelry. Once the jewelry clears the "P" trap, or is flushed down the toilet, the sewer line is your sad, last hope. Honestly, you have to really want it back badly to look there. Jon assures me that there is a very slim chance any plumber will be able to find a piece of jewelry, but theoretically, it can be done. Last week, he found a long forgotten lego guy trapped in a sewer clog, so there's a chance a piece of jewelry might be retrieved if conditions are just right, but your best bet is to keep them from going into the sewer in the first place. If you need moral support, though, here's a cool story about a woman who managed to get $10,000 in jewelry from a sewer. If you happen to lose your jewelry, Jon will be happy to search for you. Just try to follow the example of his client with painter's tape to make sure that you have the best shot at getting it back.