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The Daily Fix: Remove a Broken Light Bulb

Filed Under: Essential Skills, Know-How

broken light bulbGetty Images

What's worse than a broken light bulb? A broken light bulb that's still stuck in its socket!

This happen to me just the other day. I flipped the switch on my lamp and the bulb blew. Then when I tried to unscrew the bulb, it shattered. At that point, reaching for the broken bulb with my bare hands would not have been such a bright idea. I had to get that base out of the socket so I could replace the bulb -- all while avoiding those super-sharp shards of glass.

Here are two ways to remove a broken bulb safely -- and one way to prevent it from breaking in the first place.

Tip: Remember to unplug your lamp or turn the power off at the circuit for a hardwired fixture before attempting to replace the bulb.

potatoGetty Images

Trick #1: Use needle-nose pliers.
Hold the lamp between your knees so you have both hands free. Then, use the pliers to grip the broken bulb at its metal base. Using continuous pressure on the pliers, twist the bulb out of the socket counter-clockwise.

Trick #2: Use a potato.
It may sound strange, but it works! Cut a potato in half, push the raw end into the broken glass and twist. It will remove the bulb and keep your hands safe from cuts. If you don't have any potatoes, try a tennis ball. Press it over the broken base and twist -- just be careful not to cut yourself when you remove it the rest of the way.

To prevent broken bulbs, before you put a new bulb into the socket, coat the threads of the metal base with a tiny bit of petroleum jelly. It won't affect the electrical current but it will keep the bulb from getting stuck in the socket.

  • Don

    A bar of hand soap rubbed on the bulbs threads works and is less messy than petroleum jelly

  • larry

    Another way, especially good for ceiling sockets is use the end of a wodden broom stick.

  • John F.C. Taylor

    Nothing new about the potato trick if you watch TV at all. Remember, Tim Allen used it in an episode of Home Improvement.

  • 3 Comments / 1 Pages

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