I have a pedestal sink in my bathroom and my horizontal pivot rod for the pop-up stopper broke. I was going to simply swap out the pivot rod, however, the short end that broke off fell down the drain into the trap. From the sink down to the bottom of the trap is about 14 inches.

Is it OK for me to leave it there or do I need to disassemble the entire sink to get the small piece of broken metal out? Ideally, I'd fish it out with some long tweezers, but I'm not sure they even exist.

  • If the tweezers don't work try a wet/dry vacuum with a short piece of garden hose attached to the nozzle. – mikes Jun 15 '13 at 2:14

You could check if the remaining piece of pivot rod that you have in hand has magnetic properties (i.e. a magnet will stick to it). If so you can probably be successful in retrieving the broken part from the trap using a tool similar to those pictured below:

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Magnetic reach tools can be purchased online, hardware stores or big box outlets. In addition to the type shown above that have the flexible shaft there is another type that has the shaft made out of a soft aluminum wire that can bend slightly as the thing is pushed into the drain line. This latter type is typically a lower cost than the types pictured.

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  • Unfortunately, the metal is not magnetic. This would have been perfect, though! – Matt Jun 15 '13 at 17:22
  • @Matt - Yeah, often these pivot rods are made out of chrome plated brass rod or of stainless steel that has next to no attraction to a magnet. – Michael Karas Jun 15 '13 at 17:43

It's probably best to pull out the broken piece because it will obstruct the flow of waste water, collecting hair and soap scum and so on, so that you'll have to clean out the trap eventually anyway.

Since you have the pivot rod out, you should be able to lift out the stopper and use a pair of needle-nose or long-reach pliers to reach in and grab the broken piece:

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  • From the sink down to the bottom of the trap is about 14 inches. I was at the hardware store and found a mechanical pickup. Unfortunately, it doesn't bend enough at the head to get around the turn at the bottom of the trap. – Matt Jun 15 '13 at 17:24

Another option that you could consider for a one time problem like this is as follows.

Work at getting as much of the trap dry as possible. This could be done by using your mechanical grabber to push dry strips of rag down the drain and pulling them out again.

Once the trap has most of its water removed you could attempt to further dry the inside of the drain by forcing air flow down the drain. A warmer air will help dry the trap more than cold air. I would caution against using really hot air, such as from a hair dryer, because this could damage the plastic components of the drain system. Also note that you want to avoid sucking air out of the drain into the room due to the smell and stink involved with that.

Next make up a loop of wire made from a thin coat hanger that you can easily push down into the trap area. Using the loop arrangement lets you have the option to twist the end around better than just a single wire. It also gives more "size" to the end of the wire assembly. (If you find the steel coat hanger wire too stiff you can also try bare copper electrical wire of 12 or 14 AWG).

Finally, attach some pieces of Gorilla Tape to the loop end of the wire with the sticky side out. The idea is to get the sticky tape down into the trap to capture the broken piece of the pivot rod and then pull it back out with the wire. Do make sure to attach the tape to the wire loop in a way that even if it tries to stick to the inside of the drain pipe you are able to get it back out without leaving it down in the drain pipe.

Gorilla tape is an incredibly sticky tape with a tough fabric back that can be purchased at hardware stores or big box outlets such as Lowes or Home Depot. It is fairly expensive but once you have a roll I assure you that you will find other uses for it.

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  • Would duct tape or gaffers tape work? – Matt Jun 15 '13 at 20:50
  • @Matt - Duct tape and/or gaffers tape may work - but my experience is that it is not likely sticky enough. This is the reason I suggested the Gorilla tape. The stick of this stuff is easily 6X the junk type duct tapes. It also has a lot more resistance to getting a little damp. – Michael Karas Jun 16 '13 at 3:44
  • What happens if the tape becomes unattached in the trap? If you try something like this, be sure it's attached well. – John Smith Aug 14 '13 at 19:48

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