We’ve all been there, we’ve dropped an earring down the drain, a family heirloom or simply knocked the toothpaste cap into the drain on accident. Whether we need or want some of these items back, which in most cases you do, the item should be retrieved to prevent a clog, blockage or back up from happening.

Although, there is no need to call the plumber right away, try these four easy steps first before reaching for the phone for further assistance.

Step 1 – The first thing you need to do is to turn the water off. As soon as you realize that something that is not supposed to go down the drain has in fact done so, quickly turn off the water and avoid running anymore water down the drain. In most cases, the item is in the J-Bend (the curved part of the drain that looks like a “J”) of the P-Trap of the sink, which for the moment is easy to retrieve. If it gets pushed past the J-Bend, the lost item will be more difficult to reach and might become permanently lost.

Step 2 – Prepare the area underneath the J-Bend for water flow. Placing a bucket under the J-Bend will catch all the water that will fall once you open the drain.

Step 3 – The first step in removing the pipe is unscrewing the slip nut on the J-Bend. There are two slip nuts, you’ll first want to remove the end that is closes to the sink, then move onto the second slip nut. You should be able to do this by hand, if you’re unable to remove either slip nut and you need to use a wrench, call a plumber for assistance – you don’t want to cause any damage to the pipes. Once you have successfully removed the J-Bend, search the pipe and the bucket for the item that went down the drain.

Step 4 – Hopefully you were successful and retrieved the earring, heirloom or toothpaste cap that made its way down the drain and you can replace the J-Bend by screwing the slip nuts by hand back in place.

This is a straight forward DIY project, but should you experience any problems or difficulties removing the J-Bend or you’re unsuccessful at locating your missing object, call a licensed and certified plumber. All hope is not lost, especially if a priceless family heirloom has made its way down the drain, a plumber will have more tools and expertise to retrieve your desired item.