A broken bolt is a common problem for many people when working with metals, particularly aluminum. Many times, the head of the bolt breaks off, making it difficult to remove from the hole or object it is attached to. The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive guide to removing broken bolts from aluminum.
Using a Bolt Extractor
A bolt extractor, also known as an easy-out, is a tool designed to remove broken bolts from metal surfaces. It works by gripping the broken bolt and turning it counterclockwise until it is released. To use a bolt extractor, start by ensuring that the extractor is the right size for the broken bolt. If the extractor is too small, it will not grip the broken bolt securely enough to turn it. Once the correct size has been determined, insert the extractor into the hole where the broken bolt is located. Use a hammer to tap the extractor in place, then turn it counterclockwise until the broken bolt is released.
The benefits of using a bolt extractor are that it is relatively quick and easy to use, and requires no special tools or skills. Additionally, the extractor can be used on any type of metal, including aluminum.
Applying Heat to the Broken Bolt
Another method of removing a broken bolt from aluminum is to apply heat. This can be done with a propane torch, electric soldering iron, or even a hair dryer. The goal is to heat the bolt until it is hot enough to expand slightly and break the seal between the bolt and the aluminum. Once the bolt has cooled, it should be easy to remove with a pair of pliers or a wrench.
The advantage of using this method is that it is fast and requires minimal effort. However, there are some downsides to consider. Applying too much heat can cause damage to the aluminum, so it is important to be careful not to overheat the bolt. Additionally, if the bolt is embedded too deeply in the aluminum, it may be impossible to apply enough heat to loosen it.
Applying Penetrating Oil
Another option for removing a broken bolt from aluminum is to use a penetrating oil. There are several types of penetrating oils available, including WD-40, Liquid Wrench, and PB Blaster. To use a penetrating oil, start by spraying the oil onto the broken bolt and allowing it to sit for a few minutes. This will help to loosen the bond between the bolt and the aluminum. Then, use a pair of pliers or a wrench to twist the bolt counterclockwise until it is removed.
The advantage of using a penetrating oil is that it is relatively safe and easy to use, and does not require any special tools or skills. Additionally, it can be used on any type of metal, including aluminum.
Drilling Out the Broken Bolt
If all other methods fail, the last resort is to drill out the broken bolt. To do this, you will need a high-speed drill bit, such as a cobalt or titanium bit. Start by drilling a small hole into the center of the broken bolt. Gradually increase the size of the hole until it is large enough to fit a screw extractor. Insert the screw extractor into the hole and turn it counterclockwise until the broken bolt is released.
The advantage of drilling out a broken bolt is that it is relatively quick and easy to do. However, it is important to take caution when drilling, as it can cause damage to the aluminum surface. Additionally, drilling out a broken bolt requires specialized tools, so it is not suitable for everyone.
Using an Impact Driver or Wrench
An impact driver or wrench can also be used to remove a broken bolt from aluminum. An impact driver is a power tool that uses a combination of torque and vibration to loosen stubborn bolts. To use an impact driver, start by inserting the bit into the head of the broken bolt. Set the power level to low, then gradually increase the power until the bolt is loosened. An impact wrench can be used in a similar way, but instead of using a bit, it uses a socket that fits over the head of the broken bolt.
The advantage of using an impact driver or wrench is that it is fast and effective. Additionally, it can be used on any type of metal, including aluminum. However, it is important to remember that these tools can cause significant damage to the aluminum surface if used incorrectly.
Removing a broken bolt from aluminum can be a frustrating task, but it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we have discussed several methods for removing broken bolts from aluminum, such as using a bolt extractor, applying heat, penetrating oil, drilling out the bolt, and using an impact driver or wrench. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the one that best suits your situation.
Finally, to prevent future broken bolts from occurring, always ensure that the bolt is properly tightened before use and check it periodically. Additionally, using lubricants such as oil or grease can help to reduce friction and make it easier to remove the bolt in the future.