How to Undo Glued-Together PVC Pipe?

Stupid me just dropped a very nice sterling silver bracelet down our totally-renovated master bathroom sink.

And discovered that the plumber had glued all the pipes together!!! Is this STANDARD these days?

If it were old-style, pressure-fitted puttied (metal) pipe, I could just undo the trap & the bracelet would fall out.

But, noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!! I am FURIOUS. To the best of my knowledge, we’ll have to fish it out from the top of the drain. But I also can’t figure out how to free up the push-up/push-down drain plug. It seems to be connected in a curve to someplace I can’t see.

Any and all suggestions willingly accepted. We can’t afford to pull out all the plastic pipe and start over.

vacuum it out with a shop vac. You might have to improvise with duct tape and a piece of rubber hose. Or use a piece of thin metal (coat hanger) bent in a hook.

PVC is so cheap that you cut it out and add new pipe as needed. But you shouldn’t need to do this. The only time it’s a problem is if you have to cut near the wall and can’t slip on new pipe. There are special cutters to remove the old plastic for cases like that. But you really shouldn’t have to remove anything if it’s in the P trap. If it’s not in the P trap you’re screwed anyway.

Forgot to add that I sympathize with your anger. There’s no reason to plumb PVC to the sink except laziness. P traps are designed for quick installation and removal for the reason you gave. Quick access.

The plumber probably ran out of parts and used what he had to finish the job and saved you the cost of a trip to the hardware store. Surprise.

PVC pipe is typically glued together. It’s actually a two-part primer and solvent that cements the pieces together. It is also referred to as solvent welding. Once it sets, you can’t take it apart; you’d have to cut the pipe.

With that said, the trap underneath the sink should not have been glued together. Usually it has threaded fittings (with plastic gaskets) for easy removal. I’d have a plumber cut off the glued-on joints and install a removable trap, because it’s only a matter of time before something else goes down the drain, or you need to remove the trap to clear out a clog.

I agree with this. It should have a removable trap installed. You don’t need an $80/hr plumber to do this. find a handyman. In the meantime, fish out your bracelet.

Wait, I just reread this. It goes to a curve you can’t see? The P trap should be under the sink. If it goes straight from the sink to the wall without any p trap then that’s probably a code violation and should be fixed free by the plumber if you can locate him.

there must be a p trap somewhere because that’s what stops sewer gas from entering the house. I’m not a plumber but I’ve never heard of burying it in the wall. How would it pass inspection if they can’t see it?

+1. You can’t unglue PVC, but that’s exactly why they make threaded fittings for traps.

Good news is you can make quick work of that stuff with a mini hacksaw, and new pipe and fittings are dirt cheap.

and surprisingly easy to do. PVC is one of the true blessings of plumbing for a novice.

Thanks for the ideas, guys!

Keep 'em coming :smiley: I want to follow my thread thru Sunday & then print out the answers to show to my He quite handy, but he’s 73 & has big problems getting down under the sink …

We do have a P-trap … which is the part glued to the other parts. The other part of the problem is, if I want to try to fish out the bracelet, I have to remove the sink plug, that thingy that shuts down into the sink bowl to trap water in the bowl. It doesn’t twist or lift out readily.

The stopper has a shaft that hangs down and connects to the lever that raises and lowers it The lever comes into the vertical pipe just under the sink from the back side. There is a nut that can be turned off by hand to allow the lever to be pulled back and the stopper can then be raised up.

When you put it back together makes sure the lever fits into the slot in the stopper’s shaft.


What mixdenny said is correct but I’ll say it slightly differently to make sure it’s clear.

The handle that you pull up and down to close and open the drain is the top end of a long rod that passes through the sink and hangs down in back, behind the drain pipes. This rod is connected to a nearly horizontal lever that extends toward the pipe and connects to the stopper rod inside the drain pipe. The stopper rod is the bottom end of the stopper and makes the stopper move up and down when the lever moves. The lever just sticks through a hole in the stopper rod. You can’t pull the stopper out because the lever through the hole in the stopper rod is holding it in place.

Since the lever passes through the wall of the drain pipe, there is a connection there that is water tight yet allows the lever to move. This connection is held in place by a cap that screws onto a fitting in the back of the drain pipe, like a bottle cap with a hole in it. You just need to unscrew that cap, which can be easily done by hand, pull the lever out, which frees the stopper rod, then lift the stopper out from the top. Usually the only difficult part is when you replace it, you need to align the lever so that it passes through the hole in the stopper rod again, which can be a little tricky since you can’t see it (because it’s inside the drain pipe).


If you have a P trap it’s probably one of two types. The first has threads on both ends of the P and you should be able to unscrew the unions and shake out your bracelet. The other style has a big nut or plug on the bottom part of the P and when you back that off, the contents will fall out. Have a basin in place.

If all these fittings are really glued together, the plumber screwed up and you should call him and ask him to fix it. Traps must be removable under modern plumbing codes.

As a handyman I deal with this often. Everything you said is correct… except to add that the cap might not be unscrewable by hand. Especially by an older woman.

  1. Don’t pour any water down the sink until you get the bracelet out.

  2. If you can’t get it out, TAKE A PICTURE of the parts below the sink and post it here. Then we can advise you on how best to take apart the drain.

Hereis what it looks like. You may need pliers to unscrew it. If there is water in the sink scoop it out. put a bucket under all this to catch any water left in the pipe.

A minor hijack here, but I’ll disagree with Magiver about this quote: “I’m not a plumber but I’ve never heard of burying it [a P-trap] in the wall.”

Shower and bathtub drains also have P-traps and are often under the shower pan or the tub. In homes with crawlspaces you go under the house to access them. In upper floors a removable panel is either under or in the wall opposite the tub. I don’t know how upper floor shower P-traps are accessed, if at all. [/hijack]

With a snake or a Sawzall.

The ironic part is that traps that are walled up (e.g.: under bathtubs or showers) are required to be permanently glued so they can’t wiggle loose while you’re snaking a hair clog and cause a mysterious leak 25 years later. Sounds like the OP’s plumber didn’t have the normal collection of slip-fit P-trap parts on hand, but did have glue-together parts. Lazy.

A minor hijack to the hijack but we’re talking about sinks. Showers and tubs have P traps in the floor by default so they can’t be in walls.

Logically the sink still has a removable piece about the P trap. That’s what holds the drain stopper mechanism. If just the drain stopper is removed then I think there should be sufficient access to hook or vacuum the object out. However, removing the entire piece I linked to earlier does get you closer to the trap along with a bigger hole to work with.