How To Loosen Rusted Screws

Screws are essential components in any DIY project or repair work. However, rusted screws can be a real pain to deal with. They can be difficult to remove, and if you’re not careful, you can damage the surrounding area. In this article, we will guide you on how to loosen rusted screws without causing any damage.

Why do screws rust?

Screws are made of metal, and like any metal, they are susceptible to rust when exposed to moisture and oxygen. Rust can form on the threads of the screw, making it difficult to turn and remove.

Tools needed to loosen rusted screws

Before we get into the steps, it’s essential to have the right tools on hand. Here are some tools you’ll need to loosen rusted screws:

  • Penetrating oil
  • Heat gun or hairdryer
  • Vice grips or pliers
  • Screwdriver or drill

Steps to loosen rusted screws

Step 1: Apply penetrating oil

The first step to loosen rusted screws is to apply penetrating oil. This oil can seep into the threads of the screw and help break down the rust. Apply the oil generously to the screw and let it sit for a few minutes.

Step 2: Apply heat

If the penetrating oil doesn’t work, you can try applying heat to the screw. Use a heat gun or a hairdryer on the highest setting and aim it at the screw. The heat will cause the metal to expand, breaking the rust’s grip on the threads.

Step 3: Grip the screw

Once the screw is heated, use vice grips or pliers to grip the screw tightly. Make sure to grip it as close to the surface as possible to prevent any slipping.

Step 4: Turn the screw

With a firm grip on the screw, use a screwdriver or drill to turn the screw slowly. Apply pressure and turn the screw back and forth until it starts to loosen. Be patient and avoid putting too much force, as it can cause the screw to break.

FAQs related to how to loosen rusted screws

Q: How long should I let the penetrating oil sit?


It’s best to let the penetrating oil sit for at least 15-20 minutes before attempting to loosen the screw.

Q: Can I use WD-40 instead of penetrating oil?


WD-40 is not a penetrating oil and may not be as effective in loosening rusted screws. It’s better to use penetrating oil specifically designed for this purpose.

Q: Can I use a propane torch instead of a heat gun?


Using a propane torch can be dangerous, and it’s not recommended. A heat gun or hairdryer is a safer option as it doesn’t involve an open flame.


Loosening rusted screws can be a challenging task, but with the right tools and techniques, it’s possible to do it without causing any damage. Remember to be patient and avoid putting too much force on the screw. If you’re still having trouble, it’s best to seek professional help.