How to Loosen a Nut With a Socket Wrench Images

Nuts and bolts that are used to secure objects, such as wood and metal, are tightened and removed with a wrench. You can use standard wrenches to loosen nuts, but a socket wrench will make the job easier. Socket wrenches have a ratcheting action that increases the efficiency of the wrench. Unlike the motion of a standard wrench, a socket wrench does not need to be removed and repositioned on the nut after each turn.

Determine the size of socket that you will need by fitting a small socket over the nut and increasing the size until you find one that fits snug.

Press the socket onto the handle of the socket wrench. Match the opening on the socket with the drive on the wrench. These openings are typically 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch.

Set the lever on the handle to “Loosen” by positioning it to the left. Place the socket over the nut that you want to loosen.

Pull the handle counterclockwise to loosen the nut.

If the nut fails to move, remove the socket from the nut and spray the top and bottom of the nut with lubricating spray. Allow a minute or two for the spray to penetrate to the bolt threads.

Place the socket wrench back on the nut and attempt to loosen it again.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket wrench
  • Lubricating spray


  • You can extend the length of the socket with an attachable adapter for those hard-to-reach nuts.


  • Ace Hardware: Wrenches
  • "Tools: A Tool-by-Tool Guide to Choosing and Using 150 Home Essentials"; Steve Dodds; 2005

About the Author

Cameron Easey has over 15 years customer service experience, with eight of those years in the insurance industry. He has earned various designations from organizations like the Insurance Institute of America and LOMA. Easey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Western Michigan University.

Photo Credits

  • Images