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Refusing to Budge: Tips for Shifting Stubborn Bolts, Screws, and Nuts


Staff member
Dec 14, 2023
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A familiar and frustrating problem that many DIYers encounters are when their progress is hampered by a fixing that is putting up more than a little resistance and your efforts to loosen a bolt, screw or nut are not yielding any results.

When a decent amount of elbow-grease won’t shift the fixing you need a bit of know-how in order to get it loose and get on with the rest of the job.

Here are some ways to solve what is a common problem.

Make an impact

If you have some nuts and bolts that are refusing to budge it is probably time to reach for an impact driver.

An impact driver together with a set of good quality hex-shaft nut drivers should be all the assistance you need to get the momentum and pressure required to finally persuade the nut or bolt to loosen.

You might find that a standard chrome socket won’t give you enough strength to do the job, which is why an impact driver is a smart choice.

Use lubricant for a helping hand

Another good ploy that is well worth trying is to apply some penetrating oil to the stubborn fixing and see if that helps to loosen it up when you try to work it free again.

You could also use a wire brush to clear away any surface rust and dirt that could be hindering your efforts and make sure you allow a bit of time between spraying the lubricant and attempting to move it again so that the oil has had a chance to work its way into the area.

While you are waiting for the lubricant to do its work you might want to sort out some replacement fixings to replace the ones you are taking out, especially if they get damaged or are too rusty to reuse.

You can find them here, and at least when you have managed to free the fixings you have the replacements to hand and ready to use.

When you have tried everything

If you have attempted to work a nut or bolt free using a variety of methods including different tools and plenty of lubrication but it still won’t budge you might be wondering at this point how you are going to resolve the problem.

A combination of rust and time can easily work against you and sometimes it seems that there isn’t a solution, but if you get to that point there is a last resort option to consider.

Applying some heat to the area using a propane torch can help to expand the nut sufficiently enough to loosen it. Be very careful about applying heat in this way if you are working in a confined space or near to anything that is flammable or could get damaged.

Be mindful of the fact that there will be residual penetrating spray in the area if you have tried that method, so clean and prepare the area before you take the torch to the problem.

Heat the bolt head for about 15-seconds and aim directly at it and not the surrounding area. Quickly spray the bolt with water and let it cool down, in the hope that the rapid expansion and contraction will have the desired effect of finally loosening it.

The post Refusing to Budge: Tips for Shifting Stubborn Bolts, Screws, and Nuts appeared first on The Urban Housewife.
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