When incandescent light bulbs shatter in their fixtures, removing the threaded base from the socket is difficult and risky. Broken glass and the risk of electric shock should deter anyone from trying to take the remaining bulb.
There are several ways to remove a broken light bulb without using your hands, and you probably already have one of these three tools: needle nose pliers, a raw potato, or a commercial broken bulb extractor.
First, turn off the electricity, grab your safety glasses and thick gloves. In our guide, you can learn all the rest you need to know about how to remove a broken light bulb.
Many advocate duct tape, yet this only works when the glass hasn’t shattered.
By the end, you’ll know all there is about using any of the above other methods to remove the metal part of the bulb that has broken and avoid all the jagged edges that are seized in the socket. (Read Our Light Bulb Base Sizes Chart)
How Do You Remove A Lightbulb That Is Stuck In The Socket?
To minimize electrical shock, it’s best to turn off the light source before removing a broken bulb from a light socket. However, turning off the switch doesn’t always solve the issue, and it’s difficult to tell if a light is turned off when there are multiple switches.
Please switch off the power to the light at the breaker to ensure it’s completely isolated from the mains electricity.
Working with broken light bulbs also means working with broken glass, which easily splinters and shatters, so wear eye protection and gloves.
Remove a Broken Light Using a Potato
You can use potatoes to safely extract the broken end of a light bulb from the socket. Make sure the light switch is off, and you disable the circuit in the breaker box.
You will find two ways to try this method.
- First, slice a medium-sized raw potato in half, across the width.
- Dry any excess moisture using paper towels. Push the cut end of your potato onto the base as far as it will go. (The glass filament support in the bulb’s base and broken glass pieces sticking from the base stick into the potato).
- Turn your potato counterclockwise until your lamp base unscrews.
- Remove the broken lightbulb base and throw away the potato and the broken bulb.
- Pat dry the fixture before adding a new bulb and turning on the electricity.
If that attempt fails you, you may need a tighter fit.
- Carve the round end of the half of potato into a cylinder, which fits inside the socket.
- Simply push it firmly into the lamp until it is attached. (You can use a hard sponge in the same way).
- Hold your potato and twist counterclockwise until it turns the base with it.
Broken Bulb Extractor
You can find a broken bulb extractor available at your nearest hardware store. In the process, these work the same, and you need to cut the power. (Find the Best Outdoor Battery Operated String Lights)
All you do is insert the broken bulb extractor rubber tip into the bulb’s base, grip the handle to expand the extractor, and turn counter-clockwise.
How Do You Remove A Broken Light Bulb Without A Potato?
Using pliers to remove a light bulb broke in socket is the tried and true method. The more intact the bulb, the better. Begin by turning off the light.
If the filament is still intact, carefully twist the glass base of the filament counterclockwise with needle tip pliers.
If the filament breaks, place your needle-nose pliers into the bulb’s base and widen them.
- The needle-nose pliers’ points need to touch opposite sides of the bulb’s base.
- Hold the pliers open and turn counterclockwise to unscrew the bulb base.
- If you find it slips and need a grip, you can wrap the pliers’ tips in electrical tape or duct tape for better grip.
- Another way appears to be more physical yet is straightforward, so long as you are careful not to harm the light fixture.
- Using your needle nose pliers tip, grab the metal rim of the bulb’s base.
- Bend it in for more grip and try to unscrew and safely remove the broken lightbulb.
- If it doesn’t turn, keep bending the metal inward until it breaks apart. You can then remove the leftovers and the remaining glass and dispose of them.
How Do You Remove A Broken Lightbulb From The Outside String?
When looking at how to remove a broken light bulb outside, you need to follow these instructions.
- Wear a pair of thick leather gloves or gardening gloves. Don’t use rubber gloves, as glass from the bulb will cut through.
- Protect your eyes with safety goggles
- Grab the bulb as near to the base as possible while dealing with a damaged bulb with glass surrounding the base. Even if you’re wearing gloves, it’s better to prevent getting shards of glass caught in your hands.
- It is worth using a non-contact voltage detector to be sure your mains electricity is disconnected.
Quick Setting Epoxy Putty
- Quick setting epoxy and a large screwdriver can also help remove a broken bulb.
- Here, you can use some quick-setting epoxy to remove the light bulb base from the socket.
- Mix a piece of epoxy putty, then pack it into the bulb base.
- Once packed, stick a flat-head screwdriver into the epoxy, and remove the screwdriver.
- Wait for the epoxy to harden, and you can then use your screwdriver to simply remove the base from the lamp socket in a counter clockwise motion.
You can use the potatoes trick, but as your light is outside, it could be harder inside the base of your lamp. (Learn How To Hang String Lights In Backyard Without Trees)
Hot glue can work like epoxy and is easier to get your hands on in a pinch. Fill the broken lamp base with hot glue and insert something flat, like the tips of your screwdriver.
Wait for your glue to harden and twist counterclockwise to unscrew the base.