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How to Remove a Rusted Screw or Bolt

  • January 7, 2020

Have you encountered a rusted screw or bolt? Because they are often made of iron alloys, including steel, it’s not uncommon for fasteners to rust. As oxidation breaks down the screw or bolt, a layer of reddish-brown rust will develop. Unfortunately, the presence of this rust can make it difficult to remove the screw or bolt. So, how do you remove a rusted screw or bolt exactly?

Spray With Rust Remover

Assuming the rust is superficial, you might be able to use a rust remover on the problematic screw or bolt. When rust develops, it will bind the fastener to the interior threading in which it’s inserted. You can twist and pull on the rusted screw, but unless you unbind it, you’ll probably fail to remove it. Rust remover products — WD-40, Liquid Wrench, etc. — are designed specifically to break the bond created by rust. Just spray the rust remover over the head of the screw or bolt, ensuring that the product seeps into the fastener’s threading. After allowing the screw or bolt to soak for 10 minutes, you can attempt to remove it.

Strike It With a Hammer

Sometimes all it takes to remove a rusted screw or bolt is a forceful strike with a hammer. As previously mentioned, rusted screws and bolts are difficult to remove because they bind to the interior threading in which they are inserted. One way to unbind a rusted fastener is to spray it with a rust remover product. A second way to unbind a rusted fastener, however, is to strike it with a hammer. While wearing eye protection, forcefully strike the head of the fastener with a hammer. After striking it, try to remove the fastener with a screwdriver.

Cover Head With Duct Tape

If you’re unable to remove a screw or bolt because the head is rusted, consider covering it with duct tape. When the head of a fastener rusts, it can prevent a screwdriver from “gripping” it. You might be able to insert the tip of the screwdriver into the head, but when you attempt to turn it, it won’t move the fastener. A simple solution is to cover the head with duct tape. Depending on how much rust has developed on it, you may need to apply several layers of duct tape. After covering the head with duct tape, you can then insert the screwdriver into it. The screwdriver will them grip the duct tape and, hopefully, allow you to turn and remove the fastener.

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