How To Remove A Rusted Screw

The scenario can be quite familiar. You move into a new home, and there is a spot of home improvement to carry out. Based on previous upkeep, you can find a few screws are rusted stuck and can’t be removed easily.

First things first, you need to deal with your stubborn fasteners, yet it isn’t as easy to pull out rusted screws and loosen rusted bolts as you imagine.

Rusted nuts and bolts are often more common, and a bit of elbow grease and a squirt of penetrating oil for lubrication around the rusted bolt head and nut can be enough.

rusted screw

For removing rusted screw, you can find it more of a challenge, as you have a far smaller working area.

In our guide, you can learn how to remove rusted screws and deal with stuck screws. By the end, removing rusty screws will be far easier once you have the right technique and a few simple tools. (Read Flat Head Screwdriver Sizes)

How Do You Remove a Screw That Won’t Budge?

Wear protective gear as you learn how to remove rusted screws, especially when using hammers or blow torches.

In the most drastic ways, you can see tips that say use rust penetrant and a hammer to loosen a rusty screw, and you can use heat from a blowtorch, where you can then remove it all the way with your trusted screwdriver.

It is a little more in-depth than that when finding out how to remove rusted screws.

  • When removing rusted bolts and screws, it’s important to take safety precautions. Hence the protective gear.
  • Wear gloves and eye goggles, and throw in a surgical mask to stop breathing in rust particles as you remove the screw.
  • If you use rust removal products, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and work in a well-ventilated area.
  • When using heat to remove a rusted screw, wear leather gloves and ensure you have a fire extinguisher close by in case it goes wrong.
  • Keep children and pets well away from the area you are working to remove the screw.

corrowded screw

Two Methods On How to Remove Corroded Screws

Method 1# Use Hammer and Screwdriver to Remove Rusted Screw

  1. Use a metal hammer to strike the screw 2-3 times. The rust seal will be broken, leading the screw to become stuck.
  2. Apply a commercial rust penetrant to the area. You often use spray WD-40, or you can use lemon juice or vinegar if you are in a pinch. This saturates the screw, loosening the rust while also acting as a lubricant. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if using commercial products.
  3. Scrape off any remaining rust from the rusty screw heads
  4. Tap the screw a couple more times with the hammer, as well as the area around the screw.
  5. You should now be able to remove the screw using the screwdriver.
  6. If your screwdriver doesn’t stick in position, try a gripping paste to keep it in place.

Method 2# Removing Rusted Bolts and Screws With Heat

  1. Use a water-based degreaser to wipe down the screw.
  2. Ensure you have cleaned the area as you don’t want to go up in smoke unexpectedly.
  3. Wear leather gloves and keep a fire extinguisher close by, or at least a bucket of cold water.
  4. Heat the screw using a blowtorch until it smokes.
  5. Now, add cold water immediately by pouring or using a wet rag.
  6. Repeat the heating and cooling process 2 or 3 times more. Heating the screw makes it expand, and the cold causes it to contract. In combination, the process should loosen the screw.
  7. Once the screw is cool enough to touch, use a screwdriver to remove it.

If you have a stuck screw and don’t have any gripping paste, you can use a pro tip of placing a rubber band or some steel wool on top of the screw head. The two items can give extra grip as you push down on your screwdriver.

If you need to remove the screw and the head is damaged, it may require a screw extractor. Such a screw extractor should be used when the screw head is damaged and you can’t fit the end of the screwdriver into the head of the screw.

Using these, you drill into the screw head slowly using a cobalt metal drill bit. Once you have a small hole, insert the screw extractor into the drill and then feed this into the hole and extract the screw.

stripped head screw

How Do You Remove a Rusted Screw With a Stripped Head?

Use an Electric Drill

  1. Drill a small hole in a stripped screw to allow the screwdriver to get a stronger hold on the stuck fastener and dig deeper. Use a metal drill bit rather than a wood drill bit. Ensure you don’t drill too deep, or you could have a broken bolt.
  2. If the screw hasn’t sunk into the surrounding surface, grasp it and pull it out using an electric drill.
  3. Clamp your chuck’s teeth over the screw head and tighten it. Change the drill’s direction to reverse, and slowly drill the damaged screws out of the hole it’s made in the surface.
  4. As long as a part of the chuck head remains latched, you can use this method on any stuck and broken bolt or stripped screw.

Using a Screw Extractor

Screw extractors are tapered drill bits with square heads and used to extract wood or, often, metal screws. They are threaded in the opposite direction as screws, so they twist to the left, whereas screws twist to the right.

You will find two ends to an extractor bit:

  • The burnisher resembles a twisted drill bit. It removes some of the original driver’s stripped structure, allowing for a clean surface.
  • The extractor, whose threads are sharpened and cut in the opposite direction of conventional screw threads. When the drill is in reverse mode, the extractor end bites into the screw head and spins it to loosen it so you can remove it from the hole.

Ensure you use an extractor for the stripped screw head that is the right size.

Shock and Break Seal

  • Hammer
  • Rust penetrant (Acetone, nail polish remover, Transmission fluid, lemon juice, or sewing machine oil are all alternatives)
  • Screwdriver with a hex bolster on the shaft.
  • Powdered kitchen or bathroom cleanser or automotive valve grinding compound
  • Box-end wrench to fit screwdriver bolster
  • Heavy leather gloves
  1. Break the rust’s bond through hammer blows directly to the head of the screw to crack the rust seal.
  2. Take your rust penetrant (Liquid Wrench, WD-40 Specialist or equivalent) and spray a liberal amount of rust penetrant around the screw head.
  3. Let it soak into the cracks for a few minutes.
  4. Apply a few hammer blows.
  5. Let it sit for 15-minutes to let the spray penetrating oil work down.
  6. Hit the screw head several more times, and tap the metal surface around the screw head.
  7. Try to remove the screw. (Use the gripping paste made from kitchen cleaner for added grip, or your automotive valve grinding compound)

Tip: If your screwdriver has a hex-shaped bolster, you can deliver leverage and force by sliding a box-end wrench over the bolster. Lean on your screwdriver to offer more force keep the tip engaged as you turn the screwdriver using your wrench. (Learn How To Use Ratchet Wrench)

Cut a New Groove in Stripped Screws

You can find that Philips and star head screws don’t cope with lots of torque without stripping. It can be even worse when the rusted bolt faces you, as much of the fitting can be full of rust.

If your rusted screws remain stuck or the head has been stripped, you can use this method to cut a notch into the head and remove them using your flat blade screwdriver.

  • A rotary tool with a cut-off wheel
  • Heavy leather gloves
  • Large flathead screwdriver
  1. Wearing your heavy leather gloves, cut a slot into the screw head using a rotary tool and a cutting wheel.
  2. Ensure the slot can take the largest flat blade screwdriver you have and offer a tight fit.
  3. Force the flat tip into the new screw slot, and push and turn at the same time.

 

It is possible to use an impact tool to remove stubborn screws or bolts. However, if you use these, you often find the bolt head and the screw will be damaged to the extent you can’t do anything besides use a new bolt or use a new screw.

The impact bit will break the seal on the bolt but leave the head with a hole where the point dug in.

On a screw, this point hole means you can no longer use a screwdriver of any type. It is best to toss the rusted nut and bolt and use a new one in either case.

How To Remove A Rusted Screw (2)

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