Drilling safety | 10 Home Drilling Hazards to Avoid

January 4, 2023

When decorating your home, you’re going to want to add personal touches to each room such as artwork, shelves, mirrors and even more complex jobs like hanging your TV and other tech such as speakers or stereo systems. Though on occasion, something as simple as command hooks can help you to personalise your walls with pictures, you’ll likely find that drilling is required for the heavier objects to make room for the new fixture.

To a new homeowner or a DIY novice, we understand that grabbing a drill and getting to work on your brand-new walls might feel a little bit intimidating. Safety is always our number one priority here at DP Diamond Drilling, so we’ve decided to share some of the drilling hazards to look out for when home drilling. It’s also particularly important to remember that if you’re feeling unsure about the safety or are drilling through a tough masonry material such as concrete or stone it might be best to speak to a professional and see if it’s a service that may require a contractor.

1. Using the incorrect drill or drill bit for the job

Overwhelmed by the amount of choice available in your local DIY store? Finding the best drill for general home use can feel complicated, but if you’ve got big decorating plans you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a tool suitable for a number of different projects. 

Are hammer drills only suitable for concrete?

We’d strongly recommend getting a drill that has a hammer action setting available in case you eventually need to drill through a tougher surface such as brick - though this setting should be turned off if you’re drilling through materials such as metal, plastic or wood. 

Which are best - corded or cordless handheld drills?

Alongside the different drill functionality settings, you’ll see when browsing, you’ll also find that there are corded and cordless drills available on the market, both of which come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Corded drills tend to be lighter to use, but you will likely need to use an extension cable as well as the already attached wire - this can prove cumbersome. On the other hand, cordless drills allow for more freedom of movement but they’re typically heavier to hold due to having a built-in battery pack. 

How to know which drill bit to use?

Choosing the right drill bit for your project is essential - and it all depends on which material you’re drilling into. For masonry materials such as concrete, brick, natural stone and granite a masonry drill bit will be required. Metals will require special metal-designed drill bits, whilst wood will need wood twist drill bits to avoid being too tough on the material leading to damage such as splinters and cracking.

2. Using an unsafe drill

Before using your drill, you’ll want to make sure it’s safe to use. This means looking for any wear and tear on the wires if you’ve got a corded drill and disconnecting from the power before changing any drill bits.

3. Wearing the wrong clothing

Regardless of the size of the drilling job you’re doing, keeping yourself safe is absolutely essential. It’s for this reason that we recommend wearing a dust mask, safety goggles, hearing protection, protective gloves, a hard hat and sturdy footwear such as steel-capped boots that will protect you should there be any falling debris or a slip-up with the drill.

4. Getting caught in the machinery

As well as having all of the correct safety equipment, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve removed anything that could get caught in the spinning action of the drill, resulting in an accident. This meant that no loose clothing or jewellery should be worn, and all long hair should be tied back.

5. Drilling into pipes or wires

Unsure about what lies beneath the wall you’re drilling into? This can be a massive safety hazard if mains pipes or electrical wires are hidden behind the wall. These are likely to be most prevalent in walls that connect to bathrooms and kitchens, though we’d recommend checking the blueprints of your home to be sure. If you don’t have access to these then it may be a case of drilling shallow holes very slowly and checking for any obstructions.

6. Failing to check for asbestos

Unfortunately, asbestos is a serious problem that commonly occurs in older buildings. Drilling into an area that potentially contains asbestos can be incredibly harmful to yourself and the people around you - so if you have an older house then you’ll want to be absolutely sure that it’s safe for drilling before starting out.

7. Not drilling into wall studs

Adding a heavy fixture to your walls such as new shelves or a television? You’ll want to make sure that you’ve drilled into a material substantial enough to secure the item. It’s for this reason that heavy items should never be attached to drywall alone - this can be very dangerous as it will likely fall and damage the wall as it goes. 

To safely attach heavy items to your wall, make sure that you’re drilling through to a stud. Studs are (typically wooden) beams that make up the inner structure of a wall and are typically 16 inches apart. These are nice and sturdy, making them an ideal anchor for fixtures.

How do I find the studs on my walls? Unsure where the studs in your wall are located? A stud finder is a surefire way to find them, or if you don’t have one you can gently knock on the wall with a hammer. If the knocking sounds hollower it’s likely just drywall - you’ll know you’ve found a stud when the sound is more solid.

8. Forgetting to pilot drill

So, what exactly is pilot drilling and why is it necessary? Pilot drilling is drilling smaller, shallower holes before drilling the larger hole that you need for your project. This is really important as it can stop the larger drill bit from slipping or cracking the surface and can help guide it to create a perfect hole.

9. Damaging the drill or the drill bit

Drilling too quickly, for too long or whilst applying too much pressure can damage both your drill and the surface that you’re drilling into. To avoid cracked surfaces and blunt drill bits be sure to apply a consistent amount of pressure whilst never pushing too hard in an attempt to get the job done quickly.

10. Allowing your drill to overheat

Not only can applying too much pressure result in blunt drill bits, but it can also make your drill overheat which can cause the tool to break. It’s also important to take regular breaks and clean any chips or debris off of the drill bit. 

Another way to avoid overheating is through the usage of water as a coolant and lubricant. Using a sponge to apply a small amount to the surface that you’re drilling into is a great way to reduce the amount of dust produced and keep your drill a bit nice and cool.

Got a bigger job in mind?

We hope that our tips have helped you learn a bit more about safe home drilling. However, if you’re still feeling unsure or have a bigger project in mind, get in touch with us. We’re fully accredited concrete specialists with state-of-the-art diamond drilling equipment suitable for jobs both commercial and domestic.