Maybe you were changing out the batteries in a kitchen appliance or an electric toothbrush when you accidentally dropped a battery into the sink.

Now what?

If your battery or another small object, like your wedding ring, went down the bathroom sink, you should call a plumber. Many batteries contain dangerous, potentially corrosive chemicals that shouldn’t be introduced to any water supply, even if it’s going down the drain. But even if your battery stays in one piece, it is very likely to create a clog in your drain or sewer if you leave it there.

A plumber can remove batteries and other small objects from your drain. You may wonder how they do this, and how you can avoid this problem in the first place. We’ll explain both below.

How Plumbers Remove Batteries from Sink Drains

There are two methods a plumber will use to remove a battery from your drain. If you are lucky, the battery is big enough that it is caught in the U-shaped trap beneath the sink. In this case, a plumber needs to open the trap and remove the battery. Here is how they do it:

  1. Place bucket: Your plumber will place a bucket or tray beneath the trap to catch the inevitable mess. If you have a sink stopper or other contraptions connected to the pipe, he or she may have to remove those.
  2. Use channel locks: Next, your plumber will use channel locks to remove both sides of the trap from the pipe. This step can be gross as fats, hairs and hopefully, the battery falls out.
  3. Remove and clean: Your plumber will clean off the battery and clean out the trap.
  4. Re-attach trap: Last, your plumber will reattach the trap with the channel locks, ensuring the seal is tight so that it will not leak.

However, some batteries are too small for the trap. Triple-A batteries may slip past, and flat cell-style batteries will almost certainly go further down the drain. In this case, do not pour anything down the drain—it will only take the object further away.

Instead, you should call your plumber who will send down a scope to find the object. They will then be able to remove the item.

How to Avoid Dropping Batteries and Jewelry Down the Sink

We understand you’re frustrating. It can feel like a real waste of time to call up a professional just because you’ve dropped something down the sink. There are things you can do to avoid the hassle next time:

  • Use sink drain screens: These tiny mesh screens will prevent small objects from falling down the drain if you drop them in the sink.
  • Avoid the sink: When you have a battery in hand, whether it’s from an electric toothbrush, a kid’s toy, or anything else, avoid that sink.
  • Move your cleaner: Don’t keep jewelry cleaner in the bathroom, where you can accidentally knock it over into the sink. Use the cleaner in your room.

Don’t forget that any sized object can cause a clog in a drain if it’s not supposed to be down there. Call in a plumber before a clog can develop.