Getting a screw out that just won't come out

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Old 08-02-14, 03:22 PM
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Getting a screw out that just won't come out

I'm in a bind. Trying to replace the thermocouple on my water heater has been a nightmare because of one screw. In order to get the manifold assembly door off, I had to drill a hole into the final screw's head to disconnect it from the screw body (It was the only solution- I tried every other). The screw was just turning, and turning, and turning, without actually being extracted. Tried screw extractor bits after my adventures with vice grips and pliers just warped the terrible metal of the hex nut/washer beyond all recognition.

Here's my situation:



Turns out what it was screwing into is loose and "floating". But I can't think of any way to get it out or replace it. Gripping the inside part with a vice grip/pliers while trying to unscrew the screw with another pair of grips/pliers hasn't worked.

Please help me. I've been without hot water since monday because of this.
 
  #2  
Old 08-02-14, 03:25 PM
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Welcome to the forums Evan!

Could you drill a new hole and mount the thermocouple in a slightly different position?
 
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Old 08-02-14, 03:29 PM
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I'm honestly not comfortable doing that as that could compromise the structural integrity of the manifold door. If this was something that lacked the capacity to explode, I'd have no problem doing it, but as screwing this up could result in an explosion (you never know) when I try to run it again, I'm a bit more wary.
 
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Old 08-02-14, 04:15 PM
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Looks sort of like a rivet nut? Grip one side with pliers and use a mini hacksaw to cut off the other side. Or a Dremel tool with a fiber reinforced cutting wheel?

The problem may be putting another nut in there. I'd probably just use a sheetmetal screw as a replacement.
 
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Old 08-02-14, 04:39 PM
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Might consider that. I'm desperate at this point. Here are some more pictures that might help you figure out what it is exactly.

Best picture I could take of it on the inside. Sorry that it's blurry.


^Anchor on the opposite side
 
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Old 08-02-14, 05:03 PM
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Yep, thats an industrial style rivet nut. You could replace it after removal, but they aren't commonly available I don't think. If you happen to have an industrial fastener place nearby, they may be able to help. Otherwise, sheet metal screw. Though, the hole may be too big for that. If you have the rivet tool (or could borrow one), you could order the nuts and use a plastic push fastener like they use on cars til they show up.
 
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Old 08-02-14, 05:09 PM
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I do believe we have a dremel with the piece you described. Which side would you cut from?
 
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Old 08-02-14, 05:17 PM
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That's called a nutsert.

Go to any local hardware store or come here.... I've got boxes of them.

You may find them at big box stores.
You can also use a U-clip or U-nut. Available in the same places. These things come in many different sizes. The clip slides on the metal and becomes the new nut.

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Old 08-02-14, 05:23 PM
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Thanks PJ...don't think I've ever used them, but looks right.

Evan...I'd just grind off the front til you can snap it out from the inside. Wear eye protection!
 
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Old 08-02-14, 09:23 PM
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It's out! Thanks for all your help, everyone. Y'all are lifesavers. I got one of those u-nuts you suggested and it looks like it's gonna do the trick.

Really appreciate it, guys. Thanks so much.
 
 

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