Sometimes you get into a sticky situation and just need to take out a screw or two from you laptop. In this scenario, it is sometimes pretty hard to figure out how to do it. However, don’t fret! We have multiple solutions for you.
As much as we might hate to do it, sometimes we’ve just got to get the screwdriver out and open up our laptop. Whether it’s performing an essential upgrade, such as adding a new SSD or RAM, or just getting inside to give those overworked fans a good old cleaning, it’s something that – try as we might – we can’t avoid forever. Sometimes you’ve just got to get hands-on with your machine!
If you only have to do it once, it might not be so bad, but sometimes you’ll end up having a problematic art that means you have to repeatedly unscrew and re-tighten the same screw over and over again.
A screw with a striped or damaged screw head attached to a laptop motherboard is a classic and recurring problem that most people face! We’ve all been there: awkwardly groping a screwdriver in an attempt to remove a screw, only to discover that it’s been damaged, either by your haste or by a previous handyman.
Your screwdriver can’t get a good grip and extract the screw because the screw head is completely stripped. It’s worth noting that some laptop manufacturers, such as Apple, use screws with unusual shapes (pentalobe, torx, tri-wing) that are difficult to come by.
If you don’t have the correct screwdriver, the best thing to do is go get one; otherwise, you risk worsening the situation or even completely destroying your motherboard!
It takes a little ingenuity to remove a screw with a stripped head, but it’s fairly simple in the end. We’ll take a look at a few different options. The method you use will be determined by your unique circumstances and the resources you have.
Using An Elastic Band
A little extra care is sometimes all that is required to remove a stripped screw. An elastic band’s rubbery surface can help hold the screwdriver in place while snagging any available grip inside the damaged cross. Any elastic or rubber band will do, including a piece of bicycle or car tyre tube, as long as it allows the screw head and the screwdriver to make maximum contact!
Place the elastic at the end of a screwdriver and apply enough pressure to make the elastic’s rubber adhere to the screw. The rubber band will help fill in the areas where the screw has been damaged and provide contact where it is needed if the screw head is only partially damaged.
If the screw is really stuck and the head is completely stripped, you can use an electronic screwdriver to get it out. If you’re lucky, this will be a lot easier than using an elastic band because your electrical device will do all of the work.
Using the Damaged Screw as the Bit of a Screwdriver
Attach your screwdriver to the damaged screw head and tighten it down firmly because tightening will help loosen the screw. Start slowly with the machine in the unscrewing position. Don’t go too fast or the head of the screw will turn in the chuck. The screw should normally come out of the slot it was screwed into.
Using a Penetrating Oil Spray
WD-40 and other penetrating oil sprays are readily available at your local hardware store. One of the most important magical and practical uses of WD-40 is its ability to facilitate movement between rooms.
It works by containing a solvent that attacks any obstructions to the screw, as well as producing a thermal shock during application. Allow it to sit in a cold (approximately 40 F) or warm (approximately 85 F) environment for at least 15 minutes, but the best results are obtained if you leave it on overnight.
This can be accomplished by cooling with ice cubes and/or heating the screwdriver’s shaft. When the temperature is transferred to the screw, it will contract (cold) or expand (heat) slightly, allowing for more “play” between the screw and the bracket as it is unscrewed.
Only use penetrating oil if you’re certain your screw is made of steel and your motherboard isn’t made of steel! For this to work, the materials must be different. What could be easier than spraying a little WD-40 on the screw, ensuring that it penetrates well between the support and the latter, waiting a few minutes, and then attempting to unscrew it?
Using a Dremel
Making a slot in the head of the stripped screw and turning it into a slotted screw is a slightly more destructive solution. While a hacksaw could be used to complete the task, a tool like a cutting disc with a Dremel is more convenient and efficient.
The goal is to create a flat screwdriver indentation. For this, use a thin bur (maximum 0.5 mm). Hold the cutter firmly and make an impression as sharp as possible (not too deep, about 1mm). Then, using a flat screwdriver inserted in the impression, unscrew slowly but firmly.
Switch Screwdriver Size
Small heads on laptop screws often necessitate a specific screwdriver size. The head of a screw can strip if it is over tightened or the screwdriver is the wrong size, leaving no way to control and turn the screw. This is a major annoyance, and removing the screw isn’t always straightforward. A variety of techniques can be used to reclaim control and remove a stripped screw from a laptop. Change from a Phillips to a flathead screwdriver if the larger screwdriver breaks. When a screw strips, the indentations no longer fit perfectly, so switching to a smaller screwdriver can help you get a better grip on the head. Play around with different sizes of screwdrivers until you find one that will grab and turn the head.
If this method fails, the screw is likely fully stripped, and a screwdriver is unlikely to solve the problem. To grip the screw tightly enough to turn it, additional measures are required. It only takes a few turns to expose enough of the head to grip and remove it with pliers.
The last resort is to drill the screw out. In most cases, drilling out screws isn’t a big deal, but laptop screws are tiny, and drilling them can permanently damage the threads. Drilling is difficult because a drill bit slightly smaller than the screw size is required.
Using a Drill
Select a metal bit and drill to a shallow depth first. Making a small impression on the screw head is the goal here. Using a screwdriver, try to remove the screw. If necessary, repeat the rubber band method. The new divot may be sufficient for gripping and twisting the screw.
When drilling a stainless steel screw, pay special attention to the drilling speed and don’t forget to apply lubricant on a regular basis, or the drill may be damaged. Now you can take out the motherboard. With fine pliers, you should be able to easily remove the remaining threaded portion.
Use An Extractor
There is still a final solution: there are special “extractor” drills on the market that are little known by the general public. These are used in the same way as a traditional drill, with the exception that the drilling is done in the opposite (unscrewing) direction at a slower speed.
A screw extractor is a necessary tool for removing a broken screw from its housing. A screw extractor is readily available at your local hardware store or online. A screw extraction set can be purchased to ensure that any size screw can be removed.
Any type of broken screw could then be extracted, including wood screws, lag screws, plasterboard screws, metal screws, sheet metal screws, self-drilling screws, and so on. However, you most likely have a stainless steel screw attached to your motherboard in this case.
The extractor’s principle is simple but brilliant: The principle is the same as with the elastic method: “hang” the screw head as if it were in perfect condition and then unscrew the assembly. The screw extractor, on the other hand, has an inverted thread that allows it to “screw” into the head while turning in the assembly’s unscrewing direction. The tool is usually available in a variety of sizes to accommodate various screw head sizes.
Finally, you could affix something to the stripped screw head with epoxy or super glue. Epoxy will most likely provide a stronger connection, but it will take much longer to set.
Depending on the situation, you could try gluing another screw on top of the stripped screw to give yourself something to grip onto – or even putting a screwdriver into the stripped screw head directly.
Surely, one of these solutions will work out for you and in order to get that screw out- you need to figure out which one will work for you! If none of these work, simply take your laptop to a shop.