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I dropped one of the toilet bolts in the drain hole. It's in the basement and set in concrete. I tried to vacuum it out but couldn't.

How serious is this, will it get flushed down or do I need to trace it it a snake camera and pull it out somehow? The pipe turns horizontal right after the elbow in the ground and it's a 4" pipe.

Or can I just leave it?

  • you mentioned the size of the pipe, but you said nothing about the length of the bolt .... that is kind of important – jsotola Sep 30 '18 at 20:12
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    I thought toilet bolts are pretty standard ... how are we supposed to know that kind of a bolt you used? ..... anyway, a 3" bolt should be too short to wedge inside a 4" pipe, so i would not worry about it ..... solid waste should push it into the main sewer line fairly quickly – jsotola Sep 30 '18 at 23:15
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    "how are we supposed to know that kind of a bolt you used?"... he said it in the original question. I do agree though, @jsotola you should make your comment into an answer, without the snarky remark. – Jimmy Fix-it Sep 30 '18 at 23:24
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    Apparently we're talking about a flange bolt. Could've also been a tank bolt, seat bolt, etc. – isherwood Oct 1 '18 at 15:22
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    you can flush a lot of ice down the toilet to accomplish 2 things: 1. it could push out a minor obstruction. 2. it can back up and tell you there's a bigger problem (ala needs an auger), while eventually clearing itself out, which is a nicer way to discover the problem than having it backup with other material... – dandavis Oct 1 '18 at 18:37
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It's probably not an issue. There's a very small chance that it will get caught on a fitting and cause a clog, but more likely it'll either settle somewhere forever or make its way to the septic or municipal sewer. If it does clog a simple auger job should clear it.

Years ago I had my drain augered and the guy dropped a full size Vice-Grip down my aging 3" cast-iron pipe system. He tried for half an hour to retrieve it (magnets not being an option) but was unable. I figured it would come back to haunt me for sure, but it never did.

  • Wow a vice grip, I would have expected a problem with that also but not a bolt I haven't seen a vice grip but found quite a few kids toys in tanks over the years.+ – Ed Beal Oct 1 '18 at 16:41
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Try a magnet! Go to the hardware store and describe your problem, they should have a ready-made tool with a telescoping wand for reaching and picking up small bolts and other metal. If you need to reach around a bend in the pipe, you might need to get a strong magnet yourself and put it onto the end of a flexible piece of wire to fish it out.
Good luck!

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    Good plan, if we're dealing with plastic pipe and a ferrous bolt. We're not, as we've learned in the comments. :) – isherwood Oct 1 '18 at 15:20
  • Flange bolts are usually brass and a magnet won’t grab them – Kris Oct 3 '18 at 2:48

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