How Do You Know if You Drilled into Wire? (Solution)

One of the most common pieces of advice you will get in terms of hanging pictures, shelves, or anything that involves drilling a hole into a wall, is to make sure that you don’t drill through a wire. Although the advice is pretty straightforward and sounds easy to follow, in reality, things aren’t that simple.

Imagine the following scenario: You wanted to do a simple task like hanging a shelf or picture and drilled a few holes in the wall. But, once the pop and the sparks came, you started to panic.

How do you know if you’ve drilled into a wire? Besides the noise and the sparks, what else can you watch out for? In today’s article, we’ll talk about the signs that you’ve drilled into a wire and the steps you should take if you’re in that situation.

What Are the Warnings Signs You’ve Drilled into A Wire?

The first thing you should do is check if you’re okay. If you’ve used a drill in good condition, then any potential electric shock should have been avoided. However, if your tool has a metal chunk and you have been in contact with it, the electricity will have gone for the easiest way to the ground, which is through your hand and body. 

Another thing you should look out for if you think you’ve drilled into a wire is if the wire suddenly lost power. If nothing pops, sparks, or results in a power loss, but you notice wire insulation on your drill, make sure you don’t ignore it.

Even if the circuit was not disabled, a wire that is severed could cause a hot spot, and it is a potential fire hazard. This might not be noticeable at the beginning, but you will see nearby light switches or outlets that cause a shock when touched or stop working altogether.

The next thing you should do is make sure that the situation didn’t cause a fire. This can be a difficult task; due to the fact the wires are behind the wall, and probably the only way to see if you’ve set a fire is to look through the small hole you just drilled through the wall.

If the fire has worsened enough, you will be able to see some flames through the hole or smell the fire burning. If this has happened, make sure you call the fire department and evacuate everyone from the house.

Household Wiring

Wiring in households usually falls into one of two categories. These categories are power distribution and lighting distribution. Power wires come from below if you have a basement or crawl space or above if you have a cement foundation.

On the other hand, lighting wires usually go down from the attic area. Even though both carry electricity, what causes a more upsetting future effect and an enormous immediate effect is hitting a heavier gauge power wire. By answering these questions, you will get the idea of what kind of wiring is passing through the wall and what kind of damage is done.

What Should You Do If You’ve Drilled into A Wire?

Before going in further, we want to point out that if you don’t have any knowledge or experience in electricity, call someone who does. Without the proper knowledge or experience, you will be putting yourself in a very dangerous situation by attempting to repaid electric wires.

If there were noises and sparks when you hit the wire until you actually inspect the damage, it’s best you leave the breaker off. While there’s still power available to the electrical wire, don’t even try to repair it for your own safety.

In order to inspect and repair the damage, you can cut a larger hole. In order for the piece to fit back in without needing bracing or falling through after repairs, you can use a drywall saw set at an angle. If this tool doesn’t seem to work for you, then you should cut a hole by using a shallow cutting implement.

Once you know the type of damage that has been done and you’ve seen that there is a bare wire that is damaged and exposed, you will need to repair it. Don’t attempt to fix the issue by attaching a wire cap outside a junction box or wrapping the wire in tape.

You can make your adjustments in a nearby junction box if there’s enough wire to pull it nearby the box.

But, as we already said, don’t make any repairs or damage lightly. Remember that there are plenty of professionals who will gladly offer you help if you need it.

How to Avoid Drilling into Cables

Lastly, we will look at some tips to prevent drilling into cables in the first place.

The first tip is not to drill deeper than you need to. Make sure you’re not drilling behind the drywall or plasterboard.

A good non-invasive way of detecting what’s behind your wall is getting a voltage detector or stud finder. Instead of feeling around the wall all day, you can start nearby a place you know there is electrical wire, like an outlet, and then trace the wiring back. This can be especially useful in highly renovated, and older areas and can really help you indicate the power sources in your walls.

Even though DIY can be quite fun, there are times when someone else should take care of a task instead of us. Don’t drill a hole in your wall if you’re not confident about being able to execute it safely.

You’re putting your property, your safety, and your bills at risk. Even though calling a professional to do it instead of yourself will cost more, it will surely be worth it when you don’t have to pay for repairs once you’ve drilled through a wire.


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