How to Remove a Stuck Ceiling Fixture Globe

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When a dome or ceiling fan light cover is stuck, the problem can be even more aggravating to address.
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How many tools and how-to guides does it take to change a light bulb? When those light fixture screws get stuck, it can seem easier to just live your life in darkness than to loosen them to access the light bulb. After all, it's hard to get a good grip on the screws, especially because you're coming at them from below.

When a dome or ceiling fan light cover is stuck, the problem can be even more aggravating to address. But there are a few tips and tricks that can make the process a whole lot easier, and save you a ton of trouble.

Get a Height Advantage

The first trick to give yourself a little more leverage so your strongest arm muscles can go to town. Unless you regularly hit the gym, you probably aren't as strong when using your arms over head as you are when working at, for example, table height. The ceiling will get in your way for optimum arm performance, but you can increase your strength by simply hauling out a taller step ladder for this job.

Get a Literal Grip

Next, you need to give yourself some traction. Use the same rubber grip that you use to open jars to try to get a firm hold on screws for dome ceiling light removal.

You can use an adjustable wrench to try to loosen the screw, as well, but the teeth will gouge and dent the decorative features if you don't add some protection first. Simply place a towel over the screw before you use the wrench.

Add a Little Heat

Interestingly, heating a stuck screw can help loosen it just enough to make your efforts pay off. Use a hair dryer to apply some heat to the screw, then try again. If it still doesn't work, add more heat.

No hair dryer? Run hot water over a wash cloth or microwave a wet towel for a few seconds and apply the towel to the screw to transfer the heat. Don't wait for the nut to cool before you try to turn it. But wear heat-resistant gloves or oven mitts so you don't burn yourself.

Tighten It First

Although it seems counterintuitive at first, tightening a stuck bolt can "break" the seal that's causing the bolt to be stuck in the first place. So if you can't move the screw in one direction, try moving it the other way. If it gets a little tighter, you should be able to make some progress in loosening it.

If that doesn't work, grab a rubber mallet and gently tap the screw sideways. Your goal is not to shift the screw visibly, but to rattle it, and perhaps any debris like rust, a little looser to that the threads can slide.

Use a Penetrating Lubricant

WD-40 may not be the best lubricant to use on a light fixture, because it's flammable and some lights give off more heat than you may realize. Instead, you can apply petroleum jelly to aid in ceiling fan dome removal. Or, purchase a non-flammable penetrating lubricant with a thin spray spout to help you aim the lubricant exactly where you want it.

Your efforts should eventually pay off, but you'll need to stick with them in order to unstick a screw. Take a break if you get frustrated and tackle it with fresh vigor later. Avoid overtightening the screws once you succeed in your dome ceiling light removal to make it easier to change the bulb next time.

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Cathy Habas enjoys distilling even the most complicated home improvement tasks into bite-sized pieces. She believes in empowering homeowners one article at a time.

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