Removing a Stuck Light Bulb

January 28, 2010

Stuck Light BulbHaving 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 Tahloolabelle from Ventura, CA

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Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

July 17, 2010

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

By Alex from Naples, FL


By Eddie (Guest Post)
December 16, 20071 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

By Steve (Guest Post)
February 27, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

July 21, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

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 6, 2014

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.

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


February 7, 20140 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.


Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 679 Feedbacks
February 7, 20142 found this helpful
Best Answer

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 22, 2017

I have a stuck light bulb that I need to remove. However, all of the solutions I've found seem unlikely to help; whenever I attempt to unscrew the bulb, the ceramic socket starts to unscrew instead.

The ceramic is covered, so I can't hold onto it to keep it from moving. Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with that, short of trying to take the entire fixture apart?


February 22, 20171 found this helpful
Best Answer

As always seems to be the case for me, I found the solution shortly after posing the question. Use a rubber jar opener to give the ceramic some much-needed grip, and then you can unscrew as normal.


As it is, I still unscrewed the socket itself more than I would have liked, but everything managed to come back together.

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March 18, 2013

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


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 969 Posts
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.

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!

March 20, 20130 found this helpful

Have you tried using a pair of pliers? Should help


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 102 Feedbacks
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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May 21, 2014

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


May 31, 20140 found this helpful

Spray some WD40 into the socket around the light bulb.

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July 30, 2013

What can you apply to the threads of a light bulb to stop galling of the threads?

By Robert


Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 679 Feedbacks
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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July 22, 2012

How do you get a light bulb out of a ceiling fan socket?

By Tom


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 969 Posts
July 30, 20120 found this helpful

Make sure the lights are off and spray some Pam in the socket itself. With an oven glove, gently turn the bulb and it should come out. If not, look away and break the glass. Then, cut a spud in half and stick it in the broken area, then turn it. Most likely the first idea will help. If you can't get it out then, turn off the circuit to the light and use a pliers to turn it out.

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September 20, 2013

I have an under-cabinet fluorescent fixture that was installed at the time my house was built, 15 years ago. The tube in that fixture has burned out and needs to be replaced, but it will not budge. How do I safely remove the tube? Thank you.

By Frances V.

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April 12, 2019

With the power off, a safe way to remove a broken light bulb is with a raw potato. This is a page about using a potato to remove broken light bulb.

A broken light bulb inside a cut potato.

June 20, 2017

Lightbulbs can get stuck in the socket, if it is a recessed lightbulb that can make it even more difficult to remove. This is a page about removing a stuck recessed lightbulb.

A hand trying to remove a bulb from a recessed light fixture.


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 17, 2010

How do I get a stuck light bulb out of a socket?


September 1, 2009

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


November 29, 2006
Click to read more ideas from older posts on ThriftyFun.
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