Removing One-Way Screws - Security Door Replacement

tinanApril 9, 2013

I purchased a new security screen door to replace the old ugly one on our home. I also bought the special tool that claims to remove as well as drive in the one way screws. Of course, it doesn't work at all, even if I press very hard.

I have read so many tips on the internet but so far can't budge these things! It doesn't help that they have been painted over at some point and have been there for some time.

I tried
- hammer and countersink tool and then chisel to carefully try to "nudge" the screw counterclockwise. Would not budge.

- vice grips and various pliers. The edge of the screws do not protrude enough to get any grip. There is also almost no room to work in the area between the adjacent wall and the door jam.

- filing 2 opposite sides of the screw head to create flat areas to use vice grips - same problem as above I couldn't effectively file.

So now I am left with the remaining 2 options:

A. use dremel type tool to create a slot on the screw so I can back them out like a normal screw

B. drill the screws out using appropriate drill bits

Either of these options would require me to purchase some tools - either a dremel and attachments or special drill bits. I don't mind adding to my tool collection but I'd like to choose the right approach. I am concerned that with A the screws may still not budge and with B that when I go to install the new security door if the screw areas overlap I may have problems.

Has anyone successfully accomplished this and what do you suggest?

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Have you tried a airokroll or a lubricant that will break rusted or seized threads? The screws are most likely hardened which may make them tougher to drill out as well

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:20AM
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millworkman, no I haven't heard of those products - I will pick some up when I go to the hardware store. It will be very difficult to get it into the affected are since the screws are tight up against the metal jamb, so working any material in to where the threads are may be difficult.

Do you recommend the "make a slot" method then or are you saying that this stuff may do the trick on it's own - and the methods I already tried?

The screws are definitely hardened into place and probably rusted in there, too.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:07PM
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Just use a fine file to cut slots.

Get a needle file that only has teeth on the two thin edges to cut the slots.

A Dremel with a cut off wheel will work also, but requires VERY careful handling to cut the slot.
it takes a decet amount of practice.

if you try this use the highest speed the tool has ad make repeated shallow cuts.
You will likely need a very thin screwdriver with parallel sides not the typical sloped side of a cheap screwdriver.

Small screws like this are very difficult to drill out.
there is not enough metal to get a screw extractor with a reversed drill to work well.

What are the screws driven into?

If they are in wood the various lubricants rarely work.

The wood swells up and grabs the screw even tighter.

You may have to resort to a cats paw and brute force to pry things apart and then repair the damage.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:25PM
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How about a screw extractor? These are left hand thread.

You drill a hole in the center of the screw head, then insert the extractor, which tightens as you turn counter clock wise.

No matter what - it's not an easy job!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:24PM
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"How about a screw extractor? "

They rarely work well on small screws.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 2:45PM
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What is the purpose of the existing screws? Can you drill the heads out and remove what they are holding in place, then remove the shafts with a visegrip? You don't need special tools to drill out screw heads: just a center punch and a succession of regular drill bits.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 3:23PM
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While many homeowners do not have gas-shielded MIG welders, welding a washer or nut to the screw head affords something to be gripped with a tool and the heat breaks the grip of the rust.
You could explore hiring someone to do the welding. My equipment is semi-portable.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:14PM
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To answer some questions here:

1. the screws are not very small, the heads are about 1" diameter and look the same as the new screws that come with the new door, which are about 1/4" threads. But, maybe too small for an extractor?

2. the purpose of the screws is to hold the existing security door to the door frame, obviously they are doing their job well!

3. the screws go through a metal door frame of the security door into the stucco exterior and under that into the wood door jam/studs. So yes they are probably stuck into the wood. Maybe I will have better luck in drier weather?

kudzu9, drilling out/removing the heads seems like the most likely solution at this point...

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:25PM
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Good luck. I just used that method to remove a grill around a microwave where someone had screwed up the heads driving them in. Just make sure to center punch them so your bit doesn't wander off-center when you start in.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:51PM
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"the heads are about 1" diameter"

That would be huge screw.

Like 1/2 inch plus shank.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:57PM
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They are large, 3/4" heads now that I am home I measured them. I can't see the shank, of course.

I bought a set of drill bits/extractors at the hardware store, I drilled a pilot hole and attempted extraction, the tip of the extractor tool broke off inside, and the screw didn't budge!

I have been able to get a few of the screws out with vice grips alone, but some of them are really stuck.

I'll try those loosening lubricants, they could be stuck/rusted to the metal door frame they pass through.

So far the best success had been the vice grips on the screws in more accessible spots. Others are hard to grip because of the tapered dome head, so if I can file away enough metal on opposite sides I may be able to get those too. The problem is the screw heads are very flat and shallow - to prevent burglars from doing just this!

I do not have welding equipment or experience, so welding a nut on is out.

I just found this video, this looks like it will really work:

Off to the hardware store to return the crappy extractors they sold me (I told them what I needed to do and they recommended those) and get some tile nippers to try the youtube method.

Here is a link that might be useful: One way security screws

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:59PM
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Buy a cheap harbor freight or ace hdw angle grinder, and a fiber metal cutting blade and cut a grove for a strait blade screwdriver, back the screws out.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:56PM
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The YouTube video is interesting but a pair of Vise-Grips isn't going to cut it on a severely rusted bolt. I just tried with some carriage bolts and ended up cutting a slot. If you go with a right angle grinder, you'll need what's called a "slicer" wheel. A Demel might be a better choice for a novice. Then a big screw driver with a square shank. Put a wrench on the shank for additional leverage.

They do sell tools to remove these screws although I don't know how well they're going to work with rusted bolts.

I do like the idea of welding a nut onto the head of the bolt. Obviously not everyone has a welder but your local rental shop probably does.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:18AM
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No I don't have a welder and I don't have experience with one so I do t feel confortable renting one. If it came to that I'd have to hire someone. The screws I could grip came out nicely with the vice grips so I think the issue is less rust/binding and more just lack of grip.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:12AM
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While my technique is a bit different, this shows the concept. This video uses stick electrodes which I also use for 1/2" or larger bolts. Notice that the time actually involved is quite short- most of the video is explaining things.
Fast and it works about 99% of the time. For bolts/screws on vertical surfaces, I tack a little "handle" on the nut or washer for holding it in place with pliers or glove and for the initial rotation of the bolt/screw. Then break off the handle and it will not interfere with turning the bolt/screw in tight places.

Here is a link that might be useful: Video

This post was edited by bus_driver on Wed, Apr 10, 13 at 11:34

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:32AM
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Just an update - the tile nippers would have been great but the jaws did not open wide enough. I got some cutting pliers but the beveled edge on the outside prevented getting a grip on the flat head, flush with the frame.

Finally I just went back to my trusty old vice grips and with some patience each day after work for an hour or so, I was able to get all but 1 of the screws turning and partway out (I can't remove them until all are loose as I don't want to have a half-off door!).

Just one very stubborn screw left, but I got it to move a bit today so I have hope!

I just hope that the installation of the new door is easier than the removal of the old :)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 6:09PM
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It's off!!!

I ended up getting all the screws out with vice grips except the last one, I finally gave up on it and took the rest out, then used the leverage of the metal door frame to pull the last one out a bit so I could get a hacksaw blade in behind the frame and cut the bolt off there.

Now I touched up the paint and ready to install the new door this weekend - hope it's easier to put on than it was to take the old one off!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:13PM
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I ran into the same issue with trying to remove a security door and window. The screws had been in the house for >60 years and painted several times, so in addition to being rusted, they were especially sticky. I tried many things that didn't work and found one approach that worked really well.

What worked:
- use a dremel tool to cut a notch across rounded sides. The cut went all the way across the screw head to give the screwdriver more area of contact across both sides of the screw. Because these screws were hardened steel, i bought special diamond cutting wheels (made by Forney, not Dremel). I used the 3/4" diameter. They were cheap ($4). Wear some kind of safety glasses and consider wearing a mask. There were definitely sparks flying and fine metal shards floating in the air. This process of cutting a notch took about 2-3 minutes per screw. So quick!
- Because they were so sticky, I couldn't start the screw with the screwdriver, so I used the locking vice grips on the stem of the screwdriver to add some leverage. I should note that I was using the largest screwdriver that our local hardware store stocked. It was long and had a wide tip. The wide tip is essential to make contact with both sides of the screw head. The length was helpful because this process of getting the screw started using the vice grips required two people - one person pushing the screwdriver into the screw head with all of their weight so it wouldn't slip, and a second person doing the slow turning using the vice grips.
- Once the screw was turned 3-4 times, it could more easily be removed the rest of the way with the vice grips pinching the screw.
- This whole process took ~ 5-10 minutes per screw. Far better than the other methods I tried.

What did not work:
- drilling a hole into the screw and using an extractor. i finally found a drill bit that would drill the hardened steel, but it was impossible to get the drill to stay in place in the center of the screw head.
- grinding off the screw heads, pulling the door through the exposed screw stems, and then attaching the exposed screw tips to a drill (inserting them and then tightening down like it was a drill bit) to back them out. I used this technique for one of the screws but grinding off the screw head is not an easy task. It took forever, and I blew out two grinding wheels for a single screw, in part because the screws were flush against a metal frame, so in addition to the screw head, i was also grinding the frame itself. using the drill to back them out was easy and effective, someone could find an easier way to get the screw head off.
I hope this saves someone else all the time that I spent trying to figure this out!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2014 at 12:42PM
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SECURITY screw not door!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2014 at 11:10AM
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