How To Remove Rusted Bolts
We’ve all come across a nut that over time has rusted itself solid to the accompanying bolt.
However, there are plenty of ways to remove rusted bolts without heat, or loosing your sanity. Many of these solutions can be done with simple tools lying around the house, allowing you to get back to what you were doing ASAP.
How to remove rusted bolts: Before you start
1) How to remove rusted bolts: Use The Right Tools
- The best way to grab the bolt securely is to use a 6-point socket, this is so there’s more surface contact area and less likelihood of it slipping.
- Use a breaker bar. If you’re going to be removing more than just one rusted bolt, investing in one is a great idea. The length of the breaker bar is two to three times longer than a normal ratchet handle and delivers a much higher level of torque to the bolt. Using a ratchets isn't a good ideas, as they're not designed for high levels of torque, and their internals can break under strain.
It's the same principal as changing a car tyre. A breaker bar will give you leverage to help loosen the rusted bolt.
2) How to remove rusted bolts: Plan Ahead
- If you can, start several days in advance by spraying the bolt with a penetrating oil (such as WD-40.) Spray the bolt every day with a fresh blast of penetrant. This will be available from any local hardware shop.
- Make sure you really soak the bolt. You need to allow the penetrating oil a good chance to get into the bolt threads.
- A quality penetrating oil does two things:
- It acts as a mild solvent and eats at rust while lubricating the threads, which will make for much easier rusted bolt removal.
- If the bolt is in a hard to get to location, try to remove as many objects (brackets, panels, etc) as you can so your socket/spanner/breaker bar has enough room to turn the bolt head properly.
A rust penetrant will work wonders on removing a rusted bolt. Multiple applications is best practice.
How to remove rusted bolts: 4 Different Methods
Method 1) How to remove rusted bolts: Hammer Impact Force
- Sheer impact and force is one of the most effective ways for removing a rusted bolt.
- A few short sharp blows to the bolt head with hammer will solve the problem most of the time.
- Bolts that are extremely stuck may have to be removed with an impact gun.
- Using a lubricant like WD-40 can make it drastically easier to remove the rusted bolt.
An impact gun may be needed if a few short sharp blows with a standard hammer doesn't work.
Method 2) How to remove rusted bolts: Relief Cuts
- Relief cutting is the most common ways of removing rusted bolts that are stuck. This method works even better for rusted nuts due to them being the exterior part.
- Cut two or three grooves into the head of the bolt with a hacksaw or rotary cutting tool. Cut about two thirds as deep as the thread.
- Next, place a chisel in the newly cut groove and hit it with a hammer. The rusted bolt should then turn in the housing.
- Also, by using this method you should be able to get enough grip on the bolt to clamp on some locking jaw pliers. You can then twist the bolt out of the housing.
Relief cuts also work great in rusted nuts.
Method 3) How to remove rusted bolts: Shake the Bolt
- This involves taking a socket, placing it on the bolt head or nut, then rocking it back and forth rapidly. Applying a lubricant will make matters a whole lot easier. Keep in mind that simple leverage can get the job done too.
- Using the breaker bar mentioned at the start will allow you to get extreme amounts of leverage and force.
Good ol' elbow grease!
Method 4) How to remove rusted bolts: Drill It Out
- Although this method is virtually guaranteed to get your problem fixed with a bit of effort, but a major downside is it will often cause damage to any internal threads.
- More than likely, you’ll need a special metal-cutting drill bit, depending on the material of the rusted bolt.
- Drill a centre pilot hole
- Gradually increase the drill bit diameter until you’re able to chisel the left-over metal out.
- This methodcan be used to remove a rounded bolt, too.
- If you need to repair any thread damage, a tap and die set will help you out.
You can check out our full range of bolts here: Bolts
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The Scrooz Fasteners Team