Getting The Stuck Unstuck

Do it yourself home and auto repairs are the pride of many but when you hit a bolt that can’t be loosened the project can become frustrating. Pure muscle strength often isn’t enough to get the bolt loosened. In addition, if you aren’t careful you can also cause permanent damage to the bolt and the hole by trying to force it. However, not all hope is lost when you hit a stuck bolt because with a little patience and know how almost every stuck bolt can be loosened.

Apply Heat

A hand held torch will provide the heat and when combined with some oil most metal bolts can be loosened. Hold the lit torch about an inch from the stuck bolt and heat it long enough to cause the entire bolt to expand, somewhere between 1 – 2 minutes. Once you are done heating the bolt, extinguish the heat, and allow the bolt to cool until you can touch it without being burned but it is still warm. Then apply oil that is made to penetrate down the threads of the bolt. Using a hammer tap the end of the bolt approximately six times, as this will help the oil to continue to move down the threads of the bolt and help loosen the threads away from the other metal. Let the bolt cool another minute or two and try to remove the stuck bolt.

The Dilemma of the Round Head

Stuck bolts that have started to become rounded present an additional problem. If you know the bolt would come out if only you could get a good grip then not all is lost. Using a pair of locking pliers, you can get a very tight grip on the stuck bolt and lock the pliers in place. Carefully apply pressure to the stuck bolt. If it begins to move then keep working, but if your pliers slip, you may want to try the heating method instead.

Flathead No More

When a bolt is designed to be removed with a screwdriver, it is easy to destroy the slot where the screwdriver should fit. The result is a stuck bolt. If this has occurred, it is possible to still get the bolt out with a little patience. By flattening the sides of the bolt with a metal file, the stuck bolt can be flattened enough to allow you to grip the bolt with an adjustable wrench. Just take care not to slip while loosening the stuck bolt, or you will round your corners and be looking for another method of bolt removal.

When in Doubt Cut It Out

Some stuck bolts may be beyond any other intervention other than pure destruction. If the head of a stuck bolt is so mutilated that it can’t be grasped then you may need to take the time to cut it off. A hacksaw can be used for this task by placing the blade of the hacksaw at the base of the bolt and cutting. It will take time and you may want to purchase a set of earplugs before you start due to the unpleasant sound of metal cutting metal, but you will get the bolt unstuck.

Leverage Is a Bonus

Sometimes all that is needed to loosen a stuck bolt is a little leverage. By increasing the leverage applied to a stuck bolt you increase the amount of torque applied to the bolt. This is easy to accomplish with a socket wrench and a small pipe that can slide over the handle of the wrench. The pipe will extend the handle of the wrench and allow you to place your hand farther away from the stuck bolt. The result is increased leverage and loosen bolts.

Stuck bolts are going to happen as long as you have equipment that is held together by them. A stuck bolt can be frustrating and a time waster but they don’t have to be. A little know how can go a long way to successfully remove a stuck bolt. However, if all else fails a stuck bolt can always be removed by drilling it out.