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How Do I Remove Screws That Have Their Head Destroyed?

By December 4th, 2023Renovations

Removing screws with stripped or damaged heads can be a frustrating task, especially if the screw is in a crucial spot or made of a hard material. Stripped screw heads can happen for a variety of reasons, including using the wrong size or type of screwdriver, overtightening the screw, or corrosion. But fear not, there are several methods you can use to remove screws with damaged heads.

In this article, we will explore some of the most effective methods for removing stripped screws, including manual and power tool methods, as well as tips for success and when to call a professional.

Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a homeowner facing a stripped screw, this guide will help you remove those pesky screws and get back to your project.

How Do I Remove Screws That Have Their Head Destroyed?

Removing screws that have a stripped or destroyed head can be a frustrating task, but it’s not impossible. Here are some methods that can be used to remove screws that have their heads damaged or stripped:

  1. Flat-head screwdriver method: This method involves using a flat-head screwdriver that is slightly larger than the damaged screw head. Place the screwdriver on top of the screw head and tap it gently with a hammer. Then, turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to remove the screw.
  2. Rubber band or elastic band method: Place a rubber band or elastic band over the screw head, press it down firmly with the screwdriver, and then turn the screwdriver counterclockwise. The rubber or elastic band provides extra grip and can help turn the screw.
  3. Pliers or vise grip method: If the screw head is protruding slightly, use pliers or vise grips to grip the head of the screw and turn it counterclockwise.
  4. Hammer and chisel method: This method involves using a chisel to create a groove in the damaged screw head. Place the chisel on the edge of the screw head and tap it with a hammer until the groove is deep enough to insert a flat-head screwdriver. Then, use the screwdriver to turn the screw counterclockwise.
  5. Power drill method: Use a power drill to drill a hole in the center of the screw head. Then, insert a screw extractor tool into the hole and turn it counterclockwise to remove the screw.
  6. Dremel or rotary tool method: Use a Dremel or rotary tool to cut a slot into the screw head. Then, use a flat-head screwdriver to turn the screw counterclockwise.

It’s important to take precautions when attempting to remove a stripped screw, as forcing it can cause damage to the surrounding material. Before starting, try to determine the cause of the stripped screw to avoid it happening again. If none of these methods work or if you’re unsure, it’s best to seek professional assistance.

Common Causes Of Stripped Screws

Stripped screws can be a common problem when working with hardware, and there are several causes that can contribute to this issue. Here are some of the most common causes of stripped screws:

  1. Using the wrong size or type of screwdriver: Using a screwdriver that is too small or too large can cause the screw to become stripped. Additionally, using a screwdriver that is not the right type for the screw head can also contribute to stripping.
  2. Overtightening the screw: Overtightening a screw can cause it to become stripped, as the excess pressure can cause the threads to become damaged or distorted.
  3. Corrosion: Corrosion can cause screws to become stuck or difficult to remove, leading to stripped threads when too much force is applied.
  4. Poor quality screws: Using low-quality screws can also contribute to stripping, as the metal can be weaker and more prone to damage.
  5. Age and wear: Screws that have been in place for a long time or have undergone a lot of wear and tear can become stripped more easily.

It’s important to be aware of these common causes of stripped screws to prevent the issue from occurring in the first place. Using the right size and type of screwdriver, avoiding overtightening, using high-quality screws, and being mindful of corrosion and wear can all help to prevent stripped screws. If you do encounter a stripped screw, there are several methods you can use to remove it, as outlined in our previous discussion.

Methods For Removing Stripped Screws

Manual Methods

Manual methods for removing stripped screws are simple techniques that can be done by hand and require minimal tools. Here are some of the most effective manual methods for removing stripped screws:

  1. Flat-head screwdriver method: If the screw is not too damaged, you can try using a flat-head screwdriver that is slightly larger than the screw head. Place the screwdriver into the head of the screw and tap it gently with a hammer. This can help loosen the screw and create a new gripping point.
  2. Rubber band or elastic band method: Place a rubber band or elastic band over the screw head, and press down firmly with your screwdriver. The added grip from the rubber or elastic band can help you to turn the screw and remove it.
  3. Pliers or vise grip method: If the screw head is still visible, you can use pliers or a vise grip to twist and remove the screw. This method can be particularly effective if the screw is stuck or has been overtightened.
  4. Hammer and chisel method: Using a small hammer and chisel, carefully create a new groove in the screw head that is deep enough to allow a screwdriver to grip onto. This method requires precision and care to avoid damaging the surrounding material.

These manual methods can be effective for removing stripped screws, but it’s important to be cautious and patient when attempting them. Applying too much force or using the wrong technique can cause damage to the surrounding material. If none of these methods work, it may be necessary to use power tools or seek professional help to remove the stripped screw.

Power Tool Methods

Power tools can be very effective for removing stripped screws, as they can apply more force and precision than manual methods. Here are some of the most effective power tool methods for removing stripped screws:

  1. Power drill method: Using a power drill with a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw head, carefully drill into the center of the screw. Once the drill bit has penetrated deep enough, reverse the drill to slowly and carefully back out the screw.
  2. Screw extractor tool method: A screw extractor tool is a specialized tool that is designed to remove stripped screws. Using the appropriate size for the screw, drill a small hole into the center of the screw using a power drill. Insert the screw extractor tool into the hole and turn it counterclockwise. The screw extractor will grip onto the screw and allow you to remove it.
  3. Dremel or rotary tool method: Using a Dremel or rotary tool with a cutting wheel attachment, carefully cut a new groove into the screw head. This can provide a new gripping point for a screwdriver, allowing you to remove the screw.

It’s important to use caution when using power tools to remove stripped screws, as they can cause damage to the surrounding material if used incorrectly. Make sure to wear safety glasses and take your time to avoid making the problem worse. If you are unsure of how to use a power tool, it may be best to seek professional assistance.

Tips For Success

Removing stripped screws can be a frustrating and time-consuming task, but with the right approach, it can be done successfully. Here are some tips for success when attempting to remove stripped screws:

  1. Use the right tools: Using the appropriate tools for the job can make all the difference when it comes to removing stripped screws. Make sure you have a screwdriver or power drill that is the right size and type for the screw head, and consider using specialized tools like screw extractors or Dremel tools if necessary.
  2. Apply the right amount of force: Applying too much force can cause further damage to the screw and surrounding material, while applying too little force may not be effective in removing the screw. Use a steady hand and apply just enough pressure to slowly turn the screw and remove it.
  3. Be patient: Removing stripped screws can be a slow and tedious process, so it’s important to be patient and take your time. Rushing can lead to mistakes and further damage, so take breaks if needed and approach the task with a calm and steady mindset.
  4. Consider using lubricants: Applying a lubricant like WD-40 or a penetrating oil to the screw can help to loosen it and make it easier to remove. Just be sure to wipe away any excess lubricant before attempting to turn the screw.
  5. Seek professional help if needed: If you are unable to remove the stripped screw after trying several methods, it may be time to seek professional assistance. A professional hardware store or handyman may have specialized tools or techniques that can remove the screw without causing further damage.

By following these tips and approaching the task with care and patience, you can increase your chances of success when removing stripped screws.

When To Call A Professional

While it’s possible to remove stripped screws with manual or power tools, there are some situations where it may be best to call a professional. Here are some signs that it’s time to seek professional assistance:

  1. The screw is extremely damaged: If the screw is badly damaged or corroded, it may be difficult to remove without causing further damage to the surrounding material. A professional may have specialized tools or techniques that can safely remove the screw without damaging the material.
  2. The screw is in a critical or hard-to-reach location: If the stripped screw is in a critical location, such as a vehicle engine or machinery, it may be best to seek professional assistance to avoid causing damage or safety hazards. Similarly, if the screw is in a hard-to-reach location, a professional may have specialized tools or techniques that can access the screw without causing damage.
  3. You have tried several methods without success: If you have attempted several methods to remove the stripped screw without success, it may be time to seek professional assistance. A professional may have more experience and specialized tools that can remove the screw safely and efficiently.
  4. You are not comfortable using power tools: If you are not comfortable using power tools or are unfamiliar with the proper techniques, it may be best to seek professional assistance to avoid causing further damage or injury.

Overall, it’s important to prioritize safety and avoid causing further damage when attempting to remove stripped screws. If you are unsure about your ability to safely remove a stripped screw, or if you have tried several methods without success, it may be time to call a professional for assistance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, removing screws with stripped or damaged heads can be a frustrating and time-consuming task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done successfully. It’s important to first understand the common causes of stripped screws to avoid the issue in the future. Using the wrong size or type of screwdriver, overtightening the screw, or corrosion are just a few examples of what can cause a stripped screw.

When it comes to removing stripped screws, there are several manual methods you can try. The flat-head screwdriver method, rubber band or elastic band method, pliers or vise grip method, and hammer and chisel method are all effective options for removing screws with stripped or damaged heads. Power tool methods such as the power drill method, screw extractor tool method, and Dremel or rotary tool method are also great options.

However, it’s important to take precautions when attempting to remove a stripped screw, as forcing it can cause damage to the surrounding material. Before starting, try to determine the cause of the stripped screw to avoid it happening again. It’s also important to be patient and not rush the process. If none of these methods work or if you’re unsure, it’s best to seek professional assistance.

Additionally, there are several tips that can help increase your chances of success. For example, using penetrating oil to loosen the screw or using a heat gun to expand the material around the screw can make it easier to remove. It’s also important to be mindful of the surrounding material and to avoid damaging it as you work.

In some cases, it may be best to seek professional assistance. This is especially true if the stripped screw is in a crucial spot or made of a hard material. Seeking professional help can save time, money, and frustration in the long run.