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Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

How do you remove a light bulb that won't unscrew? It just turns the wires when I turn it.

Eric from Columbus, OH


Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

Do not use something like WD40, it can leave a residue which can cause a short between contacts. As with everyone else's suggestion, turn off the power, preferably at the breaker or fuse. Some fixtures can be miswired and the neutral is still live and you can get shocked. Next, wrap the bulb in a heavy cloth that will catch the glass if the bulb breaks. With many bulbs the glass will twist loose from the base and the filament wire will be all that still connects it. They are very fine wires and will break if you continue to twist.


Take a pair of needle nose pliers with insulated handles, double check that the power is still off, and grasp the edge of the base and twist. It will either come loose or collapse inward and then can be easily removed. If you are not comfortable doing this call an electrician. They are trained for this and have tools designed to work on these types of things. They may be expensive, but not as much as you'll spend if you get hurt.

Do you mean the socket turns? If so do not twist the bulb. You will damage the socket and or wiring, possibly causing a short. You will need to hold the socket so it cannot turn while doing the above. (11/29/2006)

By zoodad

Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

  1. Safety-first: pull the plug, wear leather gloves, and safety glasses.
  2. Equip yourself with a rubberized cloth for adhesion.

  3. Approach the task with an affirmative, can-do attitude. A facial grimace helps.
  4. Applying steady, but not overwhelming pressure, grasp the piece of cloth firmly, attempt to turn the bulb counterclockwise. (note: if it is an item such as a table lamp, turn the base of the lamp slightly in the opposing direction at the same time).
  5. Repeat as often as necessary.

The important thing is not to give up. What goes on, must, in due course, come off.


By Persistent Bob (aka, the pest)

Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

There is a product on the market that will stop all of those stuck light bulbs in your house. It is called Sure Connect Bulb Grease. It is made by TW Performance Polymers. I have used this product for five years and no more stuck light bulbs. It works best on incandescent bulbs, floodlamps, canlights, and most of all ceiling fan lights. (09/24/2007)


By handymanaround the house

Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

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 be 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. (12/16/2007)

By Eddie

Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

Once the glass breaks, there is no doubt you have a problem, particularly if the lamp is an appliance type with a small socket. There is a solution, however. Run, do not walk to your nearest hardware store and buy yourself some "Gunk Liquid Wrench". It costs about 4 bucks. Soak a Q Tip with a small amount of Liquid Wrench and apply it around the edge of the remains of the bulb in the socket or the bulb base if glass is still intact. You need very little. The Liquid wrench creeps into the joint and voila, if the glass is still there, the bulb will twist out easily.


If no glass, wrap rubber bands around a dowel of the approximates size of what is left of the bulb base and plug the dowel into the base and twist counter-clockwise. Voila No. 2, out comes the base, no problem. Remember to pull the plug/turn off the power and wear work gloves and goggles if necessary before you do anything. Liquid Wrench has been around for at least 70 years that I know of, and probably more. It works great for frozen nuts and bolts, too. Doesn't mix very well with ginger ale, though. (02/25/2008)

By Rob, Elora Ontario Canada

Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

In my case the bulb had shattered, but the little glass stick (technically called glass mount) was still standing. So I wrapped a rubber around the little stick, and put Nivea cream around the base of the bulb, and success. (10/04/2008)


By Facundo

Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

If you can't find the duck tape, reinforced packing tape with the string like parallel ribs works, too. (10/13/2008)

By Pat

Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

I tried the duct tape and it worked but after a few tries. The stubborn bulb had probably been in the socket for well over 15 years (never replaced it before). I tried the tape trick a couple of times and the tape came off pretty easily. Then I got the idea that the bulb exterior might be dirty or greasy. I got some Fantastic, sprayed it liberally into some paper towels, and cleaned the bulb well. I let it dry and then tried the tape again and it worked beautifully. Thanks so much for the tip. (12/09/2008)

By Tried Tape and it Works

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