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How to Remove a Stuck Light Bulb Base

Updated on October 31, 2012

Here is a quick step by step guide on how to remove a light bulb base that has become stuck in a light fixture. Occasionally, it happens. A light bulb becomes broken, but the base remains lodged on the fixture. What is the best way to remove it? Here’s a quick guide.

Safety First

Electrical systems can be dangerous if they are not handled properly. Even changing a light bulb can be dangerous if not done properly. First, eliminate all risk of electrocution by turning off the light source at the switch. Then, turn off the circuit that powers the light. Do not assume that turning off the switch alone is enough to ensure there is no risk of electrocution. Follow up by testing the socket for the presence of electricity with a voltmeter. Voltmeters are easy to use and can be picked up inexpensively at hardware and home improvement stores.

Method 1: Hands

You may be able to remove the bulb base with just your hands, depending on how “stuck” or tightly the bulb was placed in the fixture. Wearing gloves to protect your hands, grasp the base if you can or insert a finger into the socket and grasp the edge of the base and turn the base counter-clockwise. If you can get any sort of decent grasp on the base, and it isn’t screwed in too tightly, this method may be all you need to extract the base.

Method 2: Needle Nose Pliers

This method may work better for a socket that’s more “stuck” or screwed in more tightly. Try this method if you are unable to remove the socket with your hands alone.

Insert the needle nose pliers into the bulb base. Using both hands, open the pliers as far as you can. Turn the pliers counter-clockwise to gently ease the socket out.

Once you’ve removed the broken base, simply replace the bulb and turn the electricity back on. By following a few simple steps, you can safely remove a stuck light bulb base. Do not take chances around electrical systems and ensure that the electricity is off before beginning.


· Remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey.” That means, you turn the light bulb to the right or clockwise to screw it in. To remove a light bulb, you turn it to the left or counter-clockwise to remove it.

· To prevent bulb breakage, when you’re installing a new light bulb, don’t over tighten the bulb. You only need to tighten as much as it takes to keep the bulb in the socket without flickering.

· To prevent bulb breakage, make sure your light bulb and the socket are both clean, dry, and free of corrosion.


· Stepladder. It’s a good idea to use a non-skid stepladder if the light fixture is difficult to reach.

· Voltmeter. To test for the presence of electricity.

· Flashlight. To be able to see what you’re doing with the lights turned off.

· Needle nose pliers. To remove the socket.

· Heavy gloves, preferably leather. These will protect your hands from any broken glass in the socket.

· Eye protection. You may wish to wear safety glasses if you’re fixing an overhead fixture to prevent any broken glass from damaging your eyes if it falls.

· Head protection (hat). Again, this is to protect yourself from bits of glass falling from an overhead fixture.

· Sheet or towel. To catch any debris like falling glass from the broken light bulb.


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