How to Loosen Tight Bolts

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Loosening a bolt can be either relatively easy or difficult, depending on how tightly the bolt is attached. Over time a bolt can become stuck because rust forms on its threads or it undergoes some other form of damage. Consider several ways to loosen a bolt, starting with good old-fashioned elbow grease and ending with drilling it out after all else fails.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire brush
  • Wrench
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Propane torch
  • Penetrating oil
  • Socket wrench extension
  • Hacksaw EZ out

Basic Options

  • Clean around the bolt with a wire brush, removing as much external buildup as possible.

  • Try loosening the bolt with a wrench. If the bolt won't turn, try tightening it and then loosening it. The back-and-forth action might jar it loose.

  • Gently tap the wrench with a tool such as a a small hammer or chisel, and try loosening it with a wrench again.

  • Use a propane torch to heat the bolt. Heat an average-size bolt for approximately a minute--longer for larger bolts.

  • Allow the bolt to cool to the point where it can be touched with a finger.

  • Squirt (or spray) penetrating oil around the bolt. Let the oil soak in for at least an hour. The longer it soaks in, the better.

  • Tap the bolt again with a hammer or chisel to help loosen it, and further allow the oil to seep in. Loosen the bolt with a wrench.

  • Try using an extension (or pipe) on a socket wrench, which is also known as a ratchet. Loosen the bolt with a wrench.

Last Resort

  • Use a hacksaw to cut off the head of the bolt.

  • Drill into the bolt with an EZ Out. An EZ Out is a tool designed to extract bolts if they have become severely damaged or hopelessly stuck.

  • Reverse the drill, and pull the bolt out.

Tips & Warnings

  • When loosening a bolt, it is important to be careful to avoid breaking the bolt. Causing damage to the head will also make it more difficult to loosen.

References

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