How to Drill Through a Brick Wall

Ian Kelly

The easiest way to feed cable or pipe through a brick wall is to drill through the brick with a long, special direct system, or SDS, masonry drill bit.

Drill a hole through brick to install a pipe or cable through the wall.

However, when carrying out this procedure, professional plumbers and electricians use a special technique to prevent damaging the interior brick face when the drill exits the hole. In addition, they slope the the tunnel slightly downward on the outside to prevent condensation from dripping off the pipe and saturating the insulating material inside the cavity.

  1. Measure and mark the desired exit point of the hole on the exterior wall with a steel tape measure and felt-tipped pen.

  2. Select an SDS drill bit 2 or 3 inches longer than the width of the wall and with a diameter slightly larger than the plumbing pipe or electrical conduit you intend to insert through the wall.

  3. Subtract 1 inch from the width of the wall, transfer this measurement to the drill bit, and wind a strip of masking tape around the flutes to act as a depth gauge during the first-stage of drilling.

  4. Fit the drill bit to the hammer drill and select the non-hammer setting. Put on a pair of workman's gloves and safety glasses.

  5. Position the drill bit on the exit mark, apply firm pressure to the handle, and rotate the chuck a couple of turns by hand before turning on the drill. Stop the drill and select the hammer setting once you’ve started the hole.

  6. Lower the back of the drill about 1/2 inch and align the bit at 90 degrees horizontally to the wall. Apply firm pressure on the drill handle and continue drilling.

  7. Stop the drill and turn off the hammer action as soon as the edge of the drill bit masking-tape depth gauge reaches the wall. Restart the drill, apply light to moderate pressure on the handle and drill through the rest of the wall.

  8. Tip

    Gravity and the upward sloping bit helps to clear the drill flutes of dust. In addition, once the pipe or conduit is inserted, it will slope downward toward the outside, allowing condensation to run down the pipe without dripping on the insulation material inside the cavity. Switching to the non-hammer setting before the bit exits the inside wall prevents the hammering action from fracturing the interior brick face during the final inch of drilling.