How to Remove a Screw Embedded With Rust

Removing a rusty screw is possible using common household items.
Removing a rusty screw is possible using common household items. (Image: Rusty Screws image by colesfromnewcastle from Fotolia.com)

If you have ever been knee deep in the middle of a project that screeches to a grinding halt upon encountering a rusty screw, you know what a frustrating experience that is. Over time, any screw exposed to water or humidity may become embedded with rust. Even if rust is not visible on the head of the screw, threads may be corroded with rust, resulting in a screw that is almost impossible to loosen with just a screwdriver and sheer strength. Use a few simple methods to eliminate corrosion and allow easy removal of any rusty screw.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • WD40
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lemon juice
  • Soda
  • Impact driver
  • Hammer

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Lubricate screw by spraying WD40 underneath screw head and down into threads.

Tap gently on the head of the screw with the handle of your screwdriver to create small vibrations which loosen rust and allow lubricant to flow down the shank of the screw.

Push the tip of the screwdriver firmly down into the head of the screw and turn in a counter-clockwise direction.

Pour a rust removing agent, such as lemon juice, soda or hydrogen peroxide, onto the screw head so that it will slip down onto the threads if lubrication proves unsuccessful in loosening the stubborn screw.

Tap on the head of the screw to aid liquid in penetrating the screw threads.

Allow an hour for acidic liquid to dissolve rust.

Repeat application of chosen rust removing agent and subsequent tapping as long as rust remains.

Insert tip of screwdriver into the head of the screw and apply a strong downward pressure while turning to the left.

Utilize a manual impact driver to remove the toughest screws. Set driver to the left for loosening and insert tip into the slot on the head of the screw. Repeatedly strike the top of the driver with hammer until screw is loosened.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always apply a downward pressure while attempting to turn the screw with a screwdriver as a stripped screw will present an even bigger challenge for removal.
  • If you need to re-insert the screw, replace with a new screw that is free from rust to prevent removal issues in the future.
  • Consider the material surrounding the screw when selecting a rust remover as liquids high in acid may discolor or damage materials such as plastic or wood.

References

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