Paul's Plumbing Tips

What Should You Do if Your Child Flushes a Toy Down the Drain?

Toddlers make some choices that can seem crazy to anyone over five, and they've been known to throw toys down the drain. Sometimes, it's a bath toy that accidentally slips down a bathroom drain, and other times, it's a toy that gets flushed down the toilet.

If you are in this situation, you are not alone. Many parents have dealt with the horror of toy-blocked drains. Here's some tips to help you.

1. Reach for the Toy

Find the adult or oldest child in your family with the smallest hands and have them reach for the toy. If the toy has been dropped down a sink drain, remove the U-bend to see if you can reach it.

With toilets, you may need to remove them from the base. This process isn't that complicated—it just involves removing a couple of bolts and lifting the toilet off the floor—but it can require a lot of physical strength as the bolts are usually very firmly in place. Once the toilet is gone, you can reach into the s-bend to grab the toy.

2. Don't Fish for the Toy

If you can't see the toy, it may be tempting to try to "fish" for it, using a metal hanger or a similar object. Try not to do this. The metal may poke through the sides of the pipe, and in most cases, you won't be able to grab the toy, so it isn't worth the risk of damage.

3. Watch for Signs of Blockage in Other Drains

In most cases, the toy will stay relatively near the surface of the drain, and it will only block drainage in that bathtub, shower or toilet. However, if the toy has traveled further down the pipes. It may lead to clogs in other areas.

Initially all of your drains may work as usual. However, over time, hair and other debris will start to get hung up on the toy. That will create a monster blockage that can make it hard for anything to pass through. If you couldn't find the toy and you notice other sinks or toilets backing up in the next few days or weeks, that's probably a sign that the toy is still in there.  

4. Consider a Camera to Locate the Toy

You can buy cameras to stick down drains. They come connected to a flexible snake that you wind down the drain and a cord that transmits the images to your computer. This can be a useful way to hunt for toys deep in your system.

When you find the approximate location, shut off the water, and access the pipes in that area. Basically, you need to cut out the pipe that is around the blockage, and put in a new pipe segment in that spot.

5. Call a Professional

Dealing with blocked drains on your own can be frustrating. You may want to call a professional for help. They can help locate and remove the toy.