CMC’s DIY Electrical Guide: How to Remove a Broken Light Bulb

Aug 5, 2021

How to Remove Broken Light Bulb

A broken light bulb is one of those unfortunate events you sometimes can’t avoid. Removing one can cause even more trouble; you could end up being cut, shocked, or electrocuted if you’re not careful.

When an incandescent bulb burns out and/or is old, it could be fragile and break very easily. If you know how to remove a broken light bulb the right way, the hazards can be avoided. Follow these steps and tips to protect yourself in the process:

How to Remove a Broken Light Bulb

1. Turn Off the Electricity

If the bulb is connected to a lamp, just unplug it and there won’t be any current flowing that can shock you. But if the light is hard-wired, turn off the electricity by switching off the breaker serving the room.

2. Use a Voltage Tester

Use a non-contact voltage detector on the base to see whether an electrical field is present. The detector will flash and sound an alarm if there is.

3. Gather the Right Tools

Handling a broken bulb with your bare hands can get you cut or damage the socket (you should wear heavy gloves and eye protection). Depending on the tool you use, the procedure for removing the broken bulb varies.

  • Use Pliers: A pair of needle-nose plyers is typically effective, while it’s best the bulb be largely intact. Grip the glass base of the filament (if it’s still intact), or the metal rim, and use a gentle counterclockwise twist. If the bulb doesn’t move, bend the metal of the base inward at different spots. Repeat until it starts moving or the base breaks apart.
  • Use a Raw Potato: Remove any glass shards with a pair of pliers. Then cut a potato in half, the short way, and then dry it off with a paper towel. Jam it against the socket and twist counterclockwise. The potato should be bonded to the bulb’s base and the force of motion should free it from the lamp base as you unscrew it.
  • Broken Bulb Extractor: Bulb extractors are available for just a few dollars at home improvement and online stores. An extractor is usually designed to remove standard and smaller-sized incandescent bulbs. To remove the bulb, insert the rubber tips into the base and rotate counterclockwise.

Other Methods:

If these methods don’t work, there are other strategies. You could use a quick setting epoxy; insert a piece of epoxy putty into the bulb base, after cutting the power and cleaning any remaining glass. Next, press a flat head screwdriver into the epoxy and lift it out.

If the bulb is badly corroded, apply hot glue to a ½ x ½ inch stick of wood and press into the base; inject more glue to fill any voids in the space. After five minutes, the glue should be cool enough to allow you to turn the stick and screw out the base.

How to Prevent a Bulb from Getting Stuck

It is possible to avoid having a stuck light bulb. You can use a lubricant (not WD-40 or petroleum jelly). A lubricant designed for light bulbs, such as Bulb EZ, is recommended. To use it, coat the threads of the new bulb with the lubricant before screwing it in. The lubricant both inhibits corrosion and makes it easier to remove the bulb in the future.

Contact CMC Electric

Our licensed electricians can provide any type of electrical repair in and around Raliegh, NC. If you don’t know how to remove a broken light bulb or aren’t comfortable doing so, we can help. Electrical safety is our top priority and we’re available 24/7 to help in an electrical emergency. For same day service, call CMC Electric at 919-679-9641.

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