A screw is a threaded fastener that is used to attach items or help keep them in position. Most screws have a head designed to fit a certain type of screw driver, which allows users to insert or remove the screw. A stripped screw is one on which the head is damaged and, thus, difficult or impossible to turn using conventional methods. This damage can occur through normal wear and tear or by using the wrong type of screwdriver.
Encountering a roadblock during a home-repair project is frustrating, especially when the difficulty is something simple like a stuck screw. Installing new bath fixtures or ceiling fans or simply replacing light switch covers can come to a complete stop because of a screw that will not cooperate. Brute force often makes the problem worse, with the risk of stripping the screw entirely. Fortunately, the proper use of an impact driver and a little finesse can get your repair project back underway.
Things You'll Need
Appropriate bit (Phillips screwdriver bit or standard screwdriver)
Determine whether your stuck screw has a Phillips or a standard screw head and select the matching screwdriver bit. Screwdriver bits come in many different sizes. In addition to selecting the correct type of bit, be sure to select the appropriate size. Using the wrong size bit can strip the screw head. Make sure the impact driver is set to loosen rather than tighten screws before beginning. Open the screwdriver bit holder of your impact driver, insert the screwdriver bit and tighten.
Clean the stuck screw head of any loose dirt and debris. Set the impact driver for left turning to loosen the screw. Put on your safety glasses and place the impact driver bit snugly into the screw head. Be sure to hit the impact driver squarely on the screwdriver handle end, seating the bit straight into the screw head. Hitting the impact driver at an angle can damage the screw head.
Strike the impact driver solidly on the handle end with a hammer. Keep your fingers out of the way when hitting the impact driver with the hammer. The bit will set firmly into the screw head and the impact driver head will rotate, loosening the screw. Hit the impact driver firmly with the hammer. Too light a touch and the impact driver head will not move and neither will the screw. Too heavy a hit can damage the assembly holding the stuck screw.
Impact screwdriver bits are relatively inexpensive and are typically available in standard hardware stores. However, cheaply made impact drivers can require an extremely hard hit before engaging, risking damage to the screw. Try a lubricant if your screw is still stuck. Let the lubricant set and then try removing the screw again with the impact driver. Heating the screw threads can often aid in loosening a screw. However, you must be able to heat the threads, not just the screw head.Never apply heat to screws you have lubricated.
Nowadays, new technology and techniques have created screws that can handle more force without stripping. Advances in materials technologies have led to tougher screws intended to hold up better under high torque. Combined, these features have led to more efficient manufacturing and less potential for damage to products as the result of a stripped screw.