How To Remove A Rusted Bolt

How To Remove A Rusted Bolt

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Last Updated on February 5, 2022 by admin

Looking for ways to loosen or unscrew a rusted bolt? Our guide on how to remove a rusted bolt provides a variety of methods to help you get the job done.

How to Loosen a Rusted Bolt (or Remove a Rusted Bolt)

If you’re dealing with a stuck rusted bolt, the following tips can help you loosen it:

Scrape Excess Rust

If there’s a thick build-up of rust surrounding your fastener, your first move should be trying to scrape off as much of this rust layer as possible. A sturdy wire brush will do the trick.

Soak with Penetrating Fluid

Working smart is always better than working hard. As such, try soaking the rusted bolt with a high-quality penetrating spray to loosen it up.

Remember to be patient and give the penetrating material enough time to work its magic through the metal’s surface tension.

Add More Torque

If you can’t loosen your rusted bolt using a regular pair of pliers or wrench, try using a tool with a longer handle such as a ratchet or a breaker bar. This will have you apply much less force to get the job done.

Start slowly turning the bolt and you should feel the resistance falter in no time.

Apply Heat

Metals expand upon heating and contract upon cooling. This simple fact can help you loosen a rusted bolt if you have a propane torch lying around.

Just apply heat to one of the bolt’s sides until it’s almost red. Once this happens, add some penetrating spray and the bolt should loosen up quickly.

What is a Stripped Bolt

When the head of a bolt gets rounded due to misuse or age, it’s called a stripped bolt. If a bolt has rounded edges, there’s no way for wrenches and sockets to grip it firmly and generate enough leverage to turn the bolt.

Typically, stripped bolts arise when there’s cross-threading, rust build-up, or when an incorrect wrench or socket size is used on the bolt.

How to Unscrew a Stripped Bolt

If you’re looking into ways to unscrew a stubborn stripped bolt, the following tips can help you get things done:

Spray Penetrating Fluid

Spray the stripped bolt with a high-quality penetrating fluid. Soak it well and it should loosen up after a short while.
Remember to allow the penetrating fluid enough time to work its magic through the metal’s surface tension and break up the bonded parts of the bolt. From there, the bolt should be quite easy to unscrew.

Screw the Bolt Back In then Out

If the bolt was moving, even if it’s for the slightest bit, before starting to strip, screw it back in then back out with a dash of penetrating fluid if available.

Use Locking Pliers

Using locking pliers with enough pressure can generate enough leverage to turn and unscrew the bolt.

Use a Smaller Wrench or Socket

The bolt may be so rounded that it can fit a smaller wrench or socket on it using a hammer. If this happens, you’ll get more grip to unscrew the bolt.

Apply Heat

Apply heat to one of the bolt’s sides until it’s almost red. Once this happens, add some penetrating spray so that the bolt loosens up enough to unscrew.

Try a Hammer

Some force can break up the bond between the bolt and the rust layer, and what better tool to do that than a hammer? Tap the bolt intentionally but lightly to avoid ruining the threads.

Consider Extraction Kits

Bolt extractor kits are available on the market and are specifically made for this purpose. They often include teethed tips that latch onto the metal to create a secure grip.

Drill the Bolt Out

As a last resort, you may have to drill the bolt out. To do this, you should be capable of handling power tools and own the right bits for the task.
Don’t rush the process and begin using a small bit. Then, gradually widen the hole until the stripped bolt loosens or breaks.

How to Cut Off a Bolt

Cutting off a bolt is a sure way to remove it no matter the way it got stuck in the first place. Here’s how to perform relief cuts:

  • Make a couple of cuts through the head of the bolt.
  • Use a hammer or a chisel to hit the head of the bolt. This will cause it to split, consequently relieving the tension.

How to Remove a Cross Threaded Bolt

There are various approaches to removing a cross-threaded bolt. Go through the following tips to find the right one for your situation:

Use Blunt Force

There’s a couple of ways you can do this:

  • Strike the head of the bolt with a hammer or chisel.
  • Hit the head of the bolt using an impact gun or wrench.

Apply Heat

Apply heat to one of the bolt’s sides until it’s almost red-hot. Once this happens, add some penetrating spray so that the bolt loosens enough for you to remove.

Perform Relief Cuts

Performing relief cuts is a sure way to remove a bolt no matter the way it initially got stuck. Here’s how to perform relief cuts:

  • Make a couple of cuts through the head of the bolt.
  • Use a hammer or a chisel to hit the head of the bolt. This will cause it to split, consequently relieving the tension.

“Rock” the Fastener

If you can move the bolt, even for a tiny bit, then try to “rock” it. This means screwing the bolt back in then back out. Spray some of the penetrating fluid if available.

Use a Drill

You may have to drill the bolt out. To do this, you should be capable of handling power tools and own the right bits for the task.

Don’t rush the process and begin using a small bit. Then, gradually widen the hole until the stripped bolt loosens or breaks

Hit It with a Hammer

Applying some force can break up the bonds between the bolt and the rust layer, and what better tool to introduce such force than a hammer?

Simply tap the bolt intentionally but lightly to avoid ruining the threads. This method has a moderate success rate, but it’s particularly useful if the fastener is out in the open.

Use an Extraction Kit

Bolt and nut extractor kits are readily available on the market. They’re particularly made for this purpose and often come with teethed tips that latch onto the metal to create a secure grip.

How to Remove a Cross Threaded Nut

To remove a threaded nut, you can use the same methods we discussed in the section above. That being said, you can weld a new bolt or nut onto the old one if the latter is beyond salvaging.

All you need to do is grab a slightly larger bolt and nut then tack weld them to the current bolt body. Once welded, you should add weld to fill the nut then spread a bead at the meeting point between it and the bolt body.

Wrap Up

There you have it, a complete guide on how to remove a rusted bolt or nut.

Be sure to also check out my other posts on power tools: