The recessed light in my bathroom broke while trying to unscrew it, and only the metal collar remains. What is the best way to get that remaining part out?
With the power off at the breaker, and verified with a non-contact tester, I've always just used a pair of needle nose pliers to grip the rim of the bulb base and turn it to remove. If the bulb is really stuck you might try spraying some WD40 around it.
A similar alternative, as others have mentioned in the comments, is to expand a pair of pliers inside of the base in order to grip the inside and turn it.
In a pinch, if you lack a bulb remover, you can use a potato to remove a broken light bulb.
Essentually, you just cut it to a size that'll fit into the socket, but engage with whatever's left of the broken bulb, then twist.
I've never been all that comfortable with @Steven's solution, as it's hard to be sure the power to the light is off when the bulb is broken so you can check, unless you shut off the whole house (or the circuits are actually really well labeled.) Pull-chain switched lights and 3-way switched lights are particularly difficult in this regard.
So I bought a broken bulb remover - 2 sizes of rubber tip on an insulated plastic handle. Big one slips over the little one. Broom-handle/extension-pole threads on the far end. Don't use it often, but nice to have when needed.
If only the metal collar remains (no glass), and if the pliers don't quite fit outside the collar, it's still quite easy:
- Crimp a portion of the metal collar inward with the pliers.
- Crimp the opposite side of the metal collar inward (opposite meaning 180-degrees away from the first position).
- Use the crimped portions to grip the metal collar from the outside. If the socket is tightly gripping the collar, hold the socket in-place as you rotate the collar out.
I myself did this just a few weeks ago. No potatoes required.
Four words: Use a large carrot.
With the breaker off, I use a pair of needle-nose pliers as 'fingers', opening them up inside the base. Keep the pressure on and twist.
I have used a tennis ball for this very purpose. Just shove the tennis ball forcefully against the remaining bulb base, and continue pushing inward while turning counter-clockwise.
Ive had it happen to me many times. My Solution, turn off the power (IMPORTANT) Using an insulated screwdriver with a large flat blade >8mm, stick it into the bulb base and turn anticlockwise. Works every time.
With the breaker off I usually just use my Leathermans pliers. I put it inside closed, then open it and screw it out!
I've removed dozens of broken light bulbs. I use a partially used bar of soap. cut the bar in half, press the soap against the remains of the bulb, then unscrew it. Toss the whole mess in the garbage. I like Ivory(tm) soap for the tool box, it's cheap and lasts for decades.
When you replace the bulb rub a light coat of soap on the threads of the new bulb.
A piece of bar soap in the toolbox is very handy for lubing screws before using them, lubing drawers, door latches, cabinet latches and in dire emergencies one could concievably use it to wash one's hands.
Nah, that's just crazy talk.
A large cork is my best solution - preferably real cork as it grips better than the composite fake corks.