How to loosen a tight screw

How to loosen a tight screw

Many do-it-yourself jobs around the home come to a screeching halt because of minor problems. One problem usually involves screws that can’t be removed.

This could be for various reasons such as one that is rusted, or a screw that was tightened in a factory with an air tool, or what occurs many times, screws where the heads have been stripped or completely broken off.

Whenever a rusted screw is encountered and this could be the same for bolts, the first thing is not to force it so the head comes off. I usually use a spray like WD40 or liquid wrench. Spray it on and let it penetrate. Most of the time, this will work. My dad used to pour cola on bolts and many times that would work. Of course, as a kid I used to wonder if his cola removes rusted screws and bolts, what is it doing to my stomach? I don’t want to know.

The second problem is when a screw won’t come out because someone has overtightened it in the first place. When this occurs make sure you are using the right screwdriver for the job. Many times the wrong bladed screwdriver is used either it is too big or too small or someone tries to use a Phillips head for a blade job or vice versus. It is very simple; having the right tools for the job makes a difference.

One good tool for this job is a manual impact hammer. These are mainly used on large screws and bolts. The kit comes with assorted tips, like a blade, Phillips, and an adapter for sockets. It is easy to use. There is a selector to either tighten to the right or loosen to the left. Select the proper tool for the screw head, and insert it into the impact hammer, select left for removal. Place the tool on top of the screw and strike it with a hammer. For each strike, it will move a little at a time until it is free.

Many times the problem is going to escalate where a screw or bolt is completely broken, by that I mean the head has broken off, or the screw is stripped and just keeps turning and won’t come out.

When these problems occur you have to turn to a screw extractor also known by most mechanics as an easy out. A screw extractor has a left-hand spiral and a tapered flute. It should be marked with the correct drill size stamped on it or otherwise the box will tell the size of the drill you will need. To use the extractor you select the proper drill size and drill a hole in the middle of the screw that has to be removed.

When this is done take a wrench or a tap handle, the tap handle is what I would recommend, tighten the proper size extractor in the tap handle and then place the tip of the extractor into the hole you just drilled and turn it to the left, it should grab and start turning the broken screw shaft out.

If this is done properly and the screw was not stripped it should eliminate any need for re-drilling or re-tapping for a larger screw.

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