How to loosen nuts, bolts, and screws

Home improvement is a normal part of every homeowner's life, so it’s only natural that you come across various obstacles in the course of fixing up your home. That's part of the fun of it! A common problem in DIY projects is dealing with damaged fasteners. Sometimes it can be near impossible to loosen a nut, bolt, or screw, especially if they’re old or damaged.

Read on to learn about how to handle the fasteners in your home, whether hard to undo or damaged beyond repair! Our tips on how to loosen nuts, bolts, and screws will soon have you finding a solution to your DIY trials. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of knowledge and then you have the answer that you have been seeking when you need to loosen a nut or the like.

Penetrating oil

Commonly known as CRC, penetrating oil should be your first step in trying to loosen a nut, bolt, or screw. Spray the fastener and leave for 10 – 15 minutes to allow the oil time to penetrate the threads of the bolt or screw. Then use a wrench or screwdriver to undo the fastener. When you are trying to loosen a nut, penetrating oil is a good method to try first up.

Use a pair of hammers

Sometimes if a bolt is being particularly stubborn, using a pair of hammers can help loosen the nut so you can remove it with a wrench. Hold the hammer against one of the flat sides of the nut – note, holding it against a corner will damage the nut – and hit the opposite side with the second hammer. After a few good knocks, try to undo it with a wrench. That’s another way to loosen a nut.

Use a hacksaw

If you have nuts, bolts, or screws that are badly rusted and all aforementioned methods have failed, you may have to use a hacksaw to remove the fastener. Simply saw one side of the nut and proceed to remove it with a wrench or screwdriver. This is where you’ve tried to loosen a nut but it hasn’t worked.

If it’s still stuck, you may want to saw the opposite side and then lightly knock the remaining pieces off with a hammer. If you wish to avoid any rust-related fastener issues, try using stainless steel nuts, bolts, and screws.

Use a nut-splitter

If the position of the screw or bolt doesn’t allow for the use of a hacksaw, a nut-splitter is also very handy to help remove a rusted nut. It has a special chisel inside which screws into the nut and allows you to undo it with ease. So when you cannot loosen a nut, try a nut-splitter instead.

Drilling

When all else fails, and you just can’t loosen a nut, it’s time to get the drill out! Old and rusty fasteners can have a tendency to snap when too much pressure is applied, or if you are trying to turn them the wrong way. When this happens, drilling out the remaining bit of a screw will be your best option.

Select the correct drill bit – about a millimetre less in diameter - then slowly start drilling out the remaining screw. Changing the drill rotation back and forth can sometimes help with guiding the screw out.

Conclusion

This has been our handy list of ways to loosen a nut and remove old fasteners when they break off or otherwise get stuck. It’s amazing how small tips like these can make all the difference to your DIY projects. If you’re inexperienced, working with nuts, bolts, or screws can be fiddly and time-consuming. But if you take the time to learn about your new hobby, your proficiency will soon improve, and nuts, bolts, and screws will be able to provide the flexibility to help you create all kinds of new projects.

We hope you’ve found these tips useful. To learn more about how you can improve your home without getting help from professionals, check out our other pages!


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