I have a faucet handle with a striped hex socket screw. I tried to take it out with a screw extractor, but the tip broke off in the socket.

Is there anyway to get this out, along with the hex head screw?

  • Is the faucet still in the sink/tub? If so is it possible to remove it so you can work on it on the bench?
    – Freiheit
    Nov 9, 2010 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


The fact it broke off means the screw is probably very stuck. I would first use a penetrating oil (though WD-40 might also work), and let it sit for awhile, before trying anything further.

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but it would have been good to do this first. If you see any corrosion or rust, or suspect it's needed and have time, this never hurts to do.

You may be able to use a small drill bit to extract the broken extraction bit, and then try again -- but be careful as you may damage the screw beyond my next tip..

If you can't get the tip out (or don't want to risk trying), I would probably use a dremel cutting wheel, and basically turn the screw into a slotted screw. This can be difficult -- not deep enough, and you'll just strip the screw worse trying to get it out, and too deep and you'll weaken the head so much it'll probably snap off when you try to turn it.

The next thing beyond this is to use a "reverse drill bit" or "left-handed bit". You can drill right into the middle of the screw itself (with your drill in reverse), and the bit should actually come out before you've gotten all the way into it. Use a bit that is smaller than the thread size, otherwise you'll strip the threads so you won't be able to put another screw back in. Again, judgment is necessary here, too small and it won't get enough grip, too big and you'll strip the threads -- though maybe by this point you don't care that much :)

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  • 2
    The problem is, once there is a piece of screw extractor there, it is hardened steel. Drilling it is next to impossible. The standard trick is to anneal it, heating it up enough with a torch to remove the temper, and then let it cool slowly. That much heat may do things you don't like to the faucet itself though, so maybe not a good solution here.
    – user558
    Nov 9, 2010 at 12:55
  • There is not enough room for a dremmel, and I don't understand the reason for left-handed bit? The screw extractor was already left-handed. How much heat do I need to anneal the screw extractor?
    – cmcginty
    Nov 10, 2010 at 0:24
  • 4
    time for a new faucet! Nov 10, 2010 at 6:38

Far too late to help you out, but maybe someone else will have the same problem.

  1. Give it a few light taps with a hammer to help break up corrosion and other junk. (Don't completely baby it, but definitely don't hit it like you're driving a nail.)
  2. Use WD40 or a similar product. Wait a bit and then wipe the head clean. Repeat these two steps as needed if the hex bolt's head is covered in corrosion or other hard-to-remove junk.
  3. Use an impact hammer, not a regular drill, and definitely not a manual socket wrench (ESPECIALLY if you're using a deep socket or extension.) Manual socket wrenches work fine, but if rounding the head off is an issue, you need to stay away from them. There are certain techniques to avoid this, but they are imperfect, difficult to explain in words, and weaker than an impact hammer (or wrench, if it's a tough job.)

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