How to change light bulbs in a stuck light fixture

Updated March 23, 2017

Light bulbs in an old lighting fixture can become stuck because of the metal threads of the bulb corroding or because of over tightening after first installing them. If you have one or more light bulbs stuck in a fixture, don't try to loosen them out of the socket with your bare hands because you run the risk of shattering the bulb, injuring yourself in the process. Luckily, there are a few ways to effectively remove a stuck light bulb from a fixture without hurting yourself.

Disconnect the lighting fixture from its power source. If the lighting fixture is a table lamp or similar, unplug it from the wall. If applicable, allow the light bulb to cool down to room temperature before attempting to remove it. Stretch out a 2-foot long piece of duct tape and cut it from the roll using scissors.

Connect the length of tape together to form a loop, with the adhesive on the inside. Ensure the tape does not stick together while you are handling it. Use your hands to elongate the tape and then position the tape's loop so that the light bulb is centred in the inside portion of the loop.

Press the tape over both sides of the light bulb and then the remaining tape on both ends of the loop together to form a "T." Put on your safety goggles and gloves to avoid possible injury during the removal process. Use both hands to grasp and slightly stretch each side of the tape and attempt to rotate the light bulb out of the socket using a counterclockwise motion.

Clean up any glass particles as a result of the bulb breakage. Make sure the lighting fixture is unplugged or not powered by any electrical source. Put on safety goggles and gloves while handling the broken bulb fragments.

Use needle-nose pliers to remove any remaining glass shards left that are protruding from the light bulb's base. Insert the pliers inside the light bulb base and use both hands to pull the handles of the pliers apart so that the jaws firmly grab the interior of the light bulb base.

Rotate the handles of the pair of pliers counterclockwise while maintaining the grip of the pliers jaws on the interior portion of the base; keep turning until the light bulb base is unscrewed completely from the fixture. If you cannot get a good enough grip with the pliers, use a small screwdriver to bend the base away from the fixture and then use the pliers to grip both sides of the base; taking advantage of the indentation you made and rotating the base out from the light socket using the same counterclockwise motion.

Things You'll Need

  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Safety gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Small screwdriver
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

In the spring of 2008, Blaze Johnson decided to share his expertise through writing. He studied business administration at a local community college and runs his own driveway mechanic service, specializing in computer-controlled vehicles and custom car audio installs. Johnson also serves as the de facto computer repair person for his family, friends and coworkers.