How to Remove a Broken Lightbulb

It happens to just about everyone eventually. You go to unscrew that burned out bulb and *crack* you end up with part or all of the glass in your hand, a stubborn stump left in the socket and one question on your mind "how do I get that out of there"?

Well with a little help from your local hardware store it can be easier than you think.

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Step 1: Materials

Assess the Situation and Gather Materials:

Right now you will have one of two situations

1) The glass broke away from the base and you have a sharp stump stuck in there.


2) The glass came out intact leaving the threaded part completely empty.

we're going to start with he first scenario and move towards the latter.

What you need:
Glass catcher (large bowl, box etc)
5 minute epoxy putty
Flat head screwdriver

Step 2: Clean the Stump

Clean the stump

try to use the pliers (or a channel wrench) to unscrew the bulb with the remaining glass. Hold your bowl or box up to catch any glass shards

If you're lucky the bulb stump will come free. if you're unlucky the bulb will be too tight and you will not be able to extricate the threads. In this case use the pliers to break away any glass until you have a clean socket.

Safety Note:

Be very careful cleaning the socket. bulb glass is very nasty and likes to splinter into slivers. you should always look away or use eye protection when breaking the glass. also try to hold your container completely over the socket to catch any flying pieces

Step 3: Use the Epoxy

Now that the socket is clear of glass mix up a chunk of the epoxy putty and carefully pack it into the bulb stump.

Be sure that the epoxy does not touch the surrounding socket or you will glue the stump in!

While the epoxy is still soft stick your screwdriver into the epoxy making an oblong cavity. wait for your epoxy to fully harden. now using that cavity simply use the screwdriver to unscrew the bulb stump.

TaDa! the stump is free.

I came across this technique when the bulb in my refrigerator went out and the entire intact glass came out of the socket leaving the threads slightly rusted in place and in a position I could not reach. I had to use a mirror to even see the socket and after multiple failed attempts and 4 months it occurred to me to buy some epoxy putty.

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    10 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Much easier way: 1. Turn light OFF. 2. Take 1 small potato, cut in half. 3. Jam potato into broken off bulb. 4. Rotate potato counterclockwise. Problem solved. Note radishes, zuchinni, and small apples MIGHT work, but haven't been personally tested ;)

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    (The potato method might've been entered elsewhere... But I found it here!)

    Thank you for the idea! My light bulb flown away and landed safely w/o the metal part:( I have been trying things not helping even a bit. So I've been living in a semi-dimmed room & having unproductive days for a week. Now, I regained the much-awaited light w/ just a half of a tiny potato! Bravo!! Thank you!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Seconded, had this problem once when a bulb leapt out of a socket (no kidding!!! It just popped out and smashed on the floor leaving the base in the socket), and all I did was get the potato, cut it in half, jam it into the socket and twist, and out came the base of the bulb... :)

    I got that tip from Home Improvement (Tim Allen comedy show if you've never seen it), though the sketch was funnier than reality... :D

    Thank you thank you thank you! You are a genius! The light bulbs in my oven tend to get stuck and hard to remove. Twice now, bulbs have just fallen apart, leaving the base in the socket. The socket is in the top right corner at the back of the oven - a difficult place to work. I got the first one out with a screw driver, a pair of pliers, and a pair of needle-nose pliers. Since then, I suffered a shoulder injury and I just couldn't get the the base of the second bulb out - and, yes, I tried all the suggestions given here before I even found this site. Anyway, finding the epoxy putty was the hardest part; the rest of the process was a breeze. It was so satisfying to have that sucker come out!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I currently have the second situation, but this one is interesting... The fixture happens to be a recessed fixture in the top of a standing shower. The way the fixture is made, it pulls straight down from the ceiling and the bulb is horizontal to the floor. I have so far wasted three good potatoes and an onion. My next step is to just go turn off the breaker at the main panel and grab the channel lock pliers.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Even worse than the fact that the light bulb breaks is that it always happens 1/ in the dark, and , 2/ in the most inaccessible place. For bathroom bulbs and those screw base bulbs used outside, it is a good idea to try to head off the problem to begin with. I use Noalox anti-oxidizing grease (like that electricians use on aluminum wiring) on the base of the bulb to keep it from corroding and sticking to the socket in those high humidity areas.


    9 years ago on Introduction

     I thought that i overcomplicated it and this could be simpler. I just found the right size stick, wrapped the end in electrical tape, shoved it in, and turned. It came right out after that. This looks a lot more complicated and takes longer.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    This method worked and took less than 10 seconds. I didn't use the potato method because I didn't think the water/juice from the potato would be good for the socket.


    10 years ago on Step 3

    Using metal tools on a light socket seems dangerous to me. A much easier way to do it is to cut a potato in half, press it onto the broken bulb and twist. the remaining glass imbeds itself into the potato and the metal part comes right out.