The previous inhabitant of our apartment used screws which aren't rust-free in the shower. Now the screw holding our shower head rail broke off - or rather, just "came off" without any resistance.

The part of the screw sticking out of the wall broke off, the rest is still in the wall. this is what it looks like right now:

half a rusty screw in a tiled wall

If it's possible I'd like to reuse the hole because

  • the upper part of the shower rail is still attached, so it's in "the perfect position"
  • it's not like it needs to carry a lot of weight
  • I'd like to avoid having to drill into the tile and possibly cracking it

That's just the best case though and might not be possible as I can't get a good hold of the screw with pliermy general question is what to do next?.

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  • Since you said "apartment", you may want to call the landlord to either have him/her fix the issue, or at least get permission to do it yourself and charge back any time, tools & materials you may need to do so. If you suggest the latter part (charge back) you might find him much more interested in taking care of it for you. Note: do not read this as discouragement from DIY, just a reminder that you are renting... – FreeMan Dec 6 at 21:10
  • Can you show a picture of the mounting bracket? – Kris Dec 6 at 23:22
  • @FreeMan You are 100% correct and this question was part of the decision process if I should give them a call or if there's a way to quickly do it myself. As none of the options seems optimal, I will actually go ahead and give them a call. – Raphael Schmitz 2 days ago
  • @Kris I'll call the landlord now and let them handle it, but it seems rude to me to ignore the question. So, it looks like the ones on top & bottom here: builderdepot.co.uk/media/product/a52/… – Raphael Schmitz 2 days ago
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You could try a screw extractor, i have had moderate success with them.

You use the first end clockwise to make divot in the screw so that the second end that turns counter clockwise will have something to bite its teeth into. Go slow and apply pressure into the screw. In your case the head is missing so it makes it very difficult but worth a try.

enter image description here

The set does not cost to much and is good to have on hand anyways even it does not always work.

  • It's a great tool to have on hand. I bought one about 10 years ago when I was about to give up on extracting a screw and have used it a dozen times since. – Sam Dec 6 at 20:28
  • Great suggestion and I'd try this first as well. I'm guessing that the screw is far too rusty to remove this way. – Gary Bak Dec 6 at 23:22
  • I was trying to see if there was a "quick and easy" way to do this myself, but I will end up letting the landlord handle it now. Even though I'm not making use of your suggestion here, I'll accept this as the answer because it seems like the best advice if I would do it myself: a cheap tool which is made for this very purpose. – Raphael Schmitz 2 days ago
  • This tool is great, but not so much if you're dealing with the narrow shaft of a broken screw. There just isn't enough material width to drill and grab. – isherwood 2 days ago

Is there enough material of the screw shaft protruding from the surface to grip with pliers? You may be able to unscrew it that way.

You could also convert the shaft into a slotted head. Use a small cutoff wheel on a rotary tool or thin hacksaw blade to cut a slot into the shaft. Use a flat screwdriver to unscrew.

Both of these assumes there is enough structural integrity in the shaft to resist the force needed to unscrew it.

You need to determine if this screw was penetrating a stud or if it is in a plastic plug type anchor or a toggle

if it is in a stud move up or down a bit and drill a new hole through tile and backer then a pilot hole into stud mount with a stainless steel screw.

If it is in an anchor you should be able to push it through into the wall cavity and put in a new one same if it’s a toggle

  • 1
    While relocating the hole is generally a viable option, the OP indicated that this was just one of several screws necessary to hold up the shower bar and that this hole is in the perfect position to line up with the rest of them. Moving this screw would require moving the rest of them which the OP is, understandably, reluctant to do. – FreeMan Dec 6 at 21:08

Wall tile is fairly easy to drill, even with conventional bits. I'd drill a few 3/16" holes around the screw to create access for a locking plier (Vice-grip). Clamp onto it and twist it out.

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