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What Are the Dangers of Drilling Into Walls?

Kimberly Sharpe

At some point, you will be faced with the need to drill a hole into your home's wall. Hanging large wall hangings or repairing areas of wood trim will often require drilling. Several dangers can present themselves when drilling into a wall. Practicing a few safety considerations will help lower the risk of encountering a problem.


Wear eye safety glasses when using a drill.

Always wear safety goggles and a face mask when drilling. Flying debris such as wood shavings or drywall particles can penetrate the eye and cause damage. The dust created from drilling may also cause respiratory problems, especially in sensitive individuals such as those who suffer from asthma. When drilling into a hard surface such as concrete, wear ear protection because the noise can become excessively loud.

Electrical Dangers

Avoid drilling above and below light switches or electrical outlets. Hitting an electrical wire with a metal drill bit often proves dangerous. You may suffer an electrical shock. In homes with a second floor, you should take extra precautions to avoid drilling into electrical wiring because it can run both above and below a light switch or socket and also on either side. In most modern homes, the electrical wiring is encased in steel plating; you should cease drilling if the drill hits a metal plate to avoid possible electric shock.


Between 1930 to 1950, a majority of homes constructed contained asbestos in the insulation, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Asbestos was also used in wall paints and textures until 1977. When drilling into such substances, fibers are produced and become airborne. The fibers become trapped and wedged in the lungs. Breathing in the fibers has been shown to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer in the internal organs. The disorders may not occur until 20 to 30 years after exposure. Avoid drilling into any wall that contains asbestos.


Because parts of the drill rotate, sleeves or loose clothing can become entangled in the mechanisms. Avoid wearing any loose clothing or long sleeves when drilling a hole into a wall. Loose work gloves can also become snared in the drill and cause injury to the hand or fingers. Keep the drill dry at all times, or an electrical shock could result. Drills will get hot after use, and a hot drill can burn skin. Keep children and pets away from the drill after use to avoid injury.