Guide: How to Remove a Broken Screw

We all know how frustrating it is to come across a broken screw. To the uninitiated, removing broken screws can be a very difficult task – but with our handy guide and a bit of patience, you’ll be able to extract your broken screws in no time!

You’re most likely to find broken or stripped screws on items that go through a lot of daily wear and tear, like door hinges. However, it’s not unlikely to find the odd broken screw in newer installations too. You should be aware that each different method is dependent on what material the screw is fixed into – some materials like plastics and softwoods can be damaged if they undergo a lot of stress. 

So, how do you remove a broken screw?

Using a screw remover

The most successful and easiest way to remove a screw is to use a screw remover, like these. They can be used for screws with broken heads or with stripped threads. Once you have a screw remover, it can be used as many times as needed, so it’s a really useful bit of kit to have.

Screw removers work by punching a hole in the top of the broken screw. They feature reversed threads, which allow them to hold onto the screw so that it can be twisted out of the cavity.

To use the screw remover, simply follow these steps:

  1. Drill a small hole into the centre of the screw, around 1/8 – 1/4 of an inch deep. This will give the screw extractor something to hold onto.
  2. Attach the screw remover to your drill – remove the main drill bit and attach the screw remover in its place.
  3. Press the screw remover into the hole you have made in the screw and slowly start to spin it in an anticlockwise direction. Make sure it’s not spinning clockwise, because then you’ll only be fastening the broken screw more securely!
  4. When you feel the screw remover take hold of the screw, keep turning the drill anticlockwise and pull to remove the broken screw.

If you don’t have a screw remover to hand and are looking for an immediate fix, try the following methods of how to remove a broken screw instead.

The rubber band method

The rubber band method is a more or less foolproof way of removing broken screws, and is ideal when you’re stuck without a screw remover – you can always find a rubber band lurking around somewhere!

All you have to do is place a rubber band over the screw and try to unscrew it as you normally would. The rubber band supplies increased grip to the screwdriver, making it easier to remove the screw.

Use a different size screwdriver

Using a larger or smaller size of screwdriver can sometimes get the head to catch, even when it’s stripped or rusty. Also try switching to a flat head screwdriver instead of a Phillips head.

Don’t try to force the screw out of place, as this can cause further damage to the screw head and make it even more difficult to remove.

Rusted screw? Try a chemical reaction

If the offending screw is rusted, then it may have bonded with the substrate material, making it difficult to remove. There’s a simple fix for this – a range of chemicals including penetrating oils, oven cleaner, and even fizzy drinks like Coke and Pepsi can dissolve the rusted bonds! Just pour or spray your chemical of choice over the screw in question and wait for 10 minutes before checking it. You might have to redo this process a couple of times before the screw is loose enough to remove.


Other methods

Still stuck? If the substrate material allows for it, you can use a drill bit that is larger than the screw to essentially destroy it. However, you should be cautious with this method and only use it if the substrate material is strong enough to not be damaged. Make sure to wear safety goggles when you do this, as you don’t want any resulting small metal shards to get caught in your eyes.

If the screw head is broken and you don't have a screw extractor to hand, you could also fill over the old screw and install a new screw as close as possible to the broken screw. 

And now you know how to remove a broken screw! It really is easy when you know how, particularly when you’ve got the right tools to help.

Once you've removed your broken screws, you'll need some new screws to replace them! Click here to shop our wide range of screws.

If you have any more questions that weren’t answered in this article, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly team of experts.

Items you will need

  1. Safety Goggles
    1. Code TIM770147
    £5.00 £6.00