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Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

You need to be careful not to break the glass when removing a stubborn bulb. This guide is about removing a stuck light bulb.

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Stuck Light Bulb
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July 17, 2010 Flag
2 found this helpful

How do I remove a light bulb stuck in the ceiling socket?

By Alex from Naples, FL

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December 16, 20070 found this helpful
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I have used gaffer's tape especially with floodlight or spotlight bulbs. Use a 6 inch or so strip of tape and tape about 1/2 of it at one side of the face of the bulb. Tape a second piece opposite the first. Take the end of each piece of tape and pull in the counterclockwise direction. Bulbs that I couldn't turn by hand or with rubber gripper can undone easily with tape. Duct tape or other film tape works as well but everyone should have some gaffer's tape around. It is wonderful.

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February 27, 20080 found this helpful
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For a recessed bulb, like in a stove top cover, use a piece of tape on the bulb. Duct tape or packaging tape will work. Just get enough to cover the bulb and fold the remainder back. Of course make sure the power is off. Remember, safety first.

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July 21, 20100 found this helpful
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Turn off power at the breaker box. Take a potato cut in half for grabbing the bulb and turn, voila. :)

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February 16, 20130 found this helpful

I was convinced that I would have to get a whole new light fixture or rewire it after destroying it to get the bulb out, BUT as a last resort I tried the duct tape on the bulb and on the socket part (that I was having to hold still to keep it from twisting and breaking the wires) and surprisingly after a few minutes it reluctantly began to come loose and I got it out without breaking the bulb or tearing up my light fixture. I am surprised that it worked because I have had stuck lightbulbs before but nothing like this one. Thank you to whoever posted this answer first!

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February 6, 2014 Flag
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The metal part of my light bulb is stuck in socket of my curio stand. The glass part broke off in my hand. I unplugged the curio stand and have been working with needle nose pliers. The pliers are tearing through the metal part of the bulb. I think if I continue it will eventually come loose.

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Is there any danger of electrical shock! I don't think I should have to turn off the power at the circuit box since I unplugged the curio stand from the wall. I have the patience to keep working at it with the pliers but my main concern is getting electrically shocked or knocked on my rear!

By Samuel from Farrell, PA

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February 7, 20140 found this helpful
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If you have unplugged the curio stand from the wall outlet you are fine. If the pliers keep tearing the metal, try this: Cut a potato so that it just barely fits into the socket. Push it down into the socket hard and turn the potato to the left. This should get the bulb base loose. Good luck.

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February 7, 20141 found this helpful
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Samuel, I have done this many times with broken bulbs, particularly Christmas bulbs which are often cheaply made and prone to the glass breaking or separating from the metal base. All you have to do is unplug the lamp or light string, wait a minute or so for any electrical charges to drain away, and then start twisting the metal base out with the needlenose pliers. Before putting a new bulb in, wipe a tiny bit of petroleum jelly around the base of the new bulb, to keep it from rusting or corroding and sticking to the socket. Don't get the petroleum jelly on the contact point at the bottom, though, just on the threads. Next time you should be able to unscrew the bulb without having the glass break off. (Again, if the bulb is cheaply made, the glass part might come loose from the base anyway, but if you use the petroleum jelly on the base, it should come out easily.)

If the glass breaks off from the base in a ceiling fixture, or other hard-wired fixture, then you do have to turn off the circuit breaker before removing the base from the socket. Turn off the wall switch for the fixture, and then turn off the circuit breaker for that fixture. Wear rubber-soled shoes and use a wood or fiberglass ladder - not metal. A portable LED lantern can be a help while working on the problem.

I also recommend wearing work gloves to protect your hands from the broken glass and the sharp metal from the base of the bulb, plus a pair of wrap-around work goggles to protect your eyes from shattered glass. Remember, an intact bulb might shatter while you're trying to loosen it.

Be safe, and good luck!

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February 8, 20140 found this helpful

As long as you pulled the plug from the outlet you will ok. Electricity needs the plug to be in the outlet in order to go to the light.

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February 11, 20140 found this helpful

Once a lamp is unplugged, there is no electricity flowing through the line. You do not have to wait for it to "drain out". It is not like water in a garden hose.

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March 18, 2013 Flag
1 found this helpful

I have a very small light bulb stuck in my stove hood that I cannot remove. It is hard for me to get any kind of a grip on it because it isn't sticking out very far. Please help.

By Mary R from Eagan, MN

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March 19, 20130 found this helpful

Most likely someone put the wrong size bulb in. If there is someone with maintenance skills that can help, I would take that route first. You can always try a pliers but you should wear protective eye gear, in case it breaks. However, is there something very close to it that can be removed like the vent cover, knobs or brackets? I hope these have helped.

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March 20, 20130 found this helpful

If you have one of those flat rubbery holders for opening tight jars, maybe you could fit the edges around the bulb and get a grip that way. Good luck!

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March 20, 20130 found this helpful

Have you tried using a pair of pliers? Should help

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March 21, 20130 found this helpful

Electric off. Cut a potato, mash the cut part over the part and turn counter-clockwise. When you install the new bulb, rub the thread in your scalp. It gives just enough oil to keep bulb from corroding in socket.

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January 28, 2010 Flag

Having to change a "stubborn" light bulb from your freezer or refrigerator, not wanting it to break in your hand? Take a hairdryer to it! Aim the air at the base of the bulb's area where it screws in and it will unleash the grasp on the bulb and you are ready to install the new bulb.

By Trisha from Ventura, CA

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July 3, 2013 Flag
0 found this helpful

I have a recessed spotlight in my kitchen ceiling that seems to be corroded because I can't twist it out. I have no way of doing the tape wrap trick either as it is too recessed to work around. Any suggestions as how to remove without shattering the light bulb?

By JL

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July 5, 20130 found this helpful

Break out the light bulb glass cut a potato in half and push it firmly onto the light bulb and it should come out with no bother

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July 5, 20130 found this helpful

1. Make sure the switch is OFF

2. Try squirting WD40 or some other lubricant around the

base of the bulb and wait a few minutes...no luck?

3. Be very careful. Use eye protectors. Wear gloves.

Hold bulb and gently tap with a hard object to break it.

Once broken clear glass so metal base rim is exposed.

Using needle nose pliers grip the rim and gently wiggle

while using a rotating motion in the direction you

would use to unscrew the bulb naturally. The rim may

start to bend...I've had them a bent mess but no

matter. Presevere until it is removed. Another

squirt of WD40 may help this process.

4. When replacing the bulb smear the base of the new

bulb with vasolene so this won't happen again...

Carol

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May 9, 20140 found this helpful

My ceiling light in the kitchen also was stuck when it burnt out. No way to get my fingers around the bulb because the bulb was so far recessed. I put a piece of clear packing tape (duct tape would have worked too but I was too lazy to go to the garage and packing tape was in my desk) on it with pieces hanging down on both sides, grabbed the two pieces and pulled in opposite directions. The bulb turned as if it had been greased and came right out.

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May 21, 2014 Flag
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The exit sign bulb went out. It's a 20 watt with no threads, but won't come out of the socket. I try turning it, but it seems stuck. Any help would be great.

By Chris

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May 31, 20140 found this helpful

Spray some WD40 into the socket around the light bulb.

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July 30, 2013 Flag
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What can you apply to the threads of a light bulb to stop galling of the threads?

By Robert

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August 1, 20130 found this helpful

Rub a small amount of Vaseline on the threads. It prevents rust and makes the bulb easier to remove, especially if it is seldom used and spends months or years in the fixture. Be sure not to get Vaseline on the contact point on the bottom.

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Home and Garden Repair Home ElectricalMarch 20, 2013
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