When a ring finds its way down a bathtub drain, it's not a time to panic. There are a few ways to retrieve a piece of jewelry that has slipped down a drain.
What Not to Do
It may be tempting, but don't reach for the faucet and send a rush of water down the drain. Water will only send the item further down and out of reach.
Using a household vacuum cleaner runs the risk of electrocution. Always use a wet/dry shop vac when working in areas with water. A vacuum that is not designed to work with water can be a serious hazard.
Power Out the Jewelry Piece
If the jewelry item is just inside the drain and visible, a wet/dry shop vac can suck up the ring or other small jewelry item without the worry of sweeping it further down the drain. For smaller items, like earrings, tie tacks or thin, lightweight rings, the shop vac may be strong enough to pull the item from within the drain. The shop vac should be on the wet setting to avoid the risk of electrocution.
Remove the stopper from the bathtub drain if it is still in place. Depending on the type of stopper you have, you may be able to simply pull it out of the drain or unscrew it and lift it out. Place a piece of cheesecloth, nylons or other thin fabric over the mouth of the vacuum hose. Empty the canister of the shop vac. If the jewelry item gets past the cheesecloth or the hosiery tears or slips from the vacuum hose, your ring can get lost in the rubble in the canister. This will save you from having to sift through dust and debris to find it.
Place the covered vacuum hose over the bathtub drain. Turn on the shop vac and let it run for a few minutes to dislodge the jewelry and bring it to the surface of the covered vacuum hose. Lift the hose from the drain while the shop vac is still running so that the jewelry item is stuck to the bottom of the covered hose. Remove the piece of jewelry from the hose after pulling it away from the bathtub. Otherwise, you may end up repeating the process.
Retrieving a Heavy Ring
A heavier piece of jewelry, like a wedding ring, may be resistant to the suction of a wet/dry vac. In this case, you can use a specially designed grabbing and retrieving claw that's carefully lowered into the drain to fish out your ring. If you don't have a grabbing/retrieving tool claw, you can try using a wire clothes hanger.
Use a flashlight to peer into the bathtub drain. If you can see the ring, then you may be able to retrieve it with the hanger. Shape the hanger into a hook on one end and unbend the rest so you end up with a long, thin piece of wire. Make sure the hook is angled enough to keep the ring secure as you raise the hanger.
Gently lower the bent hanger into the drain and loop it around the edge of the band of the ring. Slide the hanger with the ring attached up the side of the drain, keeping the ring against the side of the drain. Apply pressure to the side of the drain as you raise the ring to the surface of the tub to help it stay secure on the hook.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.