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ctggzg
Premium
join:2005-02-11
USA
kudos:2

2 edits

Finding where NOT to drill through drywall

I'm not much of a do-it-yourselfer, so please excuse my ignorance. I was drilling some holes in drywall and ran into metal in one place. I assume it's conduit for electrical or other wires (?). I figured I would only find something like that vertically aligned with an electrical, coax, or phone outlet, but nothing matched up on either side of the wall. So how do I figure out where I can't drill? Use the smallest bit so there's not much of a hole if there's something in the way?

Edit: I was using a cheap stud finder, but it didn't detect anything where the metal is, though it did beep in other places.

Edit: Bought a better stud finder, problem solved. Thanks everyone.


LBDSL
Lightning Bolt

join:2002-01-07
Auburn Hills, MI
why are you drilling to begin with? What are you trying to do.

If you are trying to hang something it would be best to drill/screw right into a stud, and a stub finder would be best for you.
--
Lightning Bolt Technologies


stevek1949
We're not in Kansas anymore
Premium
join:2002-11-13
Virginia Beach, VA
reply to ctggzg
More than likely, it is probably a metal strip used to protect any plumbing that is run through the studs . This is used as a protection by most plumbers to stop DYR's from nailing or drilling through the stud and puncturing the plumbing.

A cheap stud finder will allow you to find the studs, but a better one would also find any electrical cabling.


jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1

1 recommendation

reply to ctggzg
Another little bit of metal they sometimes hide inside wall cavities is natural gas pipe. Just what is it you're drilling for?
--
~Help Find a Cure for Cancer~
~Proud Member of Team Discovery ~

KirkyInCT

join:2008-11-04
Higganum, CT
kudos:1
reply to ctggzg
Small hole, big hole, doesn't matter, damage is or could be done. As mentioned, there are many reasons for metal along studs, and even base plates and top plates.

Electrical and plumbing are obvious. Could also be heating/cooling vents, or possibly some structural reinforcement. I've got some nice 1/4" steel plates at various places in my home anchoring support columns to the ridge beam, I'm guessing there are probably some I can't see.

I would spend some time figuring out what it was that you hit. Electrical and plumbing would be bad news. The others, probably not so much, but in any case, you don't want to drill there again.


SandShark
Long may you run
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-23
Santa Fe, TX
kudos:3
reply to ctggzg
Along with the other things mentioned and depending on where on the wall you're drilling, it could be hurricane clips.


Jtmo
Premium
join:2001-05-20
Novato, CA

1 recommendation

reply to ctggzg
I had a guy drill through the wall and hit metal. It was the Circuit panel on the other side, POW, SNAP, fire.
Shut the hospital down, ooops.

Use a stud finder.


Sweet Witch
Be the flame, not the moth.
Premium,MVM
join:2003-07-15
Gallifrey
reply to ctggzg
Cripes, even tapping with a fingernail and listening is better than drilling blindly!

w1zard

join:2001-12-22
Paradise, PA
reply to ctggzg
Depending on the age of the house it could also be metal studs. They are getting more and more common in this area.

ctggzg
Premium
join:2005-02-11
USA
kudos:2
reply to ctggzg
I'm putting up some wire shelving in the garage. I need to nail in several wall clips no more than a foot apart, and from what I read, studs are generally 16" or more. My cheap stud finder doesn't detect anything where I hit metal, but it may not be very accurate.

ctggzg
Premium
join:2005-02-11
USA
kudos:2
reply to Sweet Witch
said by Sweet Witch:

Cripes, even tapping with a fingernail and listening is better than drilling blindly!
Yeah, should have mentioned the stud finder in my original post. It didn't show anything in that spot. It's a cheap-feeling DuraPro that came with an electric screwdriver, so it may be time to get a real one.


Tzale
Proud Libertarian Conservative
Premium
join:2004-01-06
NYC Metro
said by ctggzg:

said by Sweet Witch:

Cripes, even tapping with a fingernail and listening is better than drilling blindly!
Yeah, should have mentioned the stud finder in my original post. It didn't show anything in that spot. It's a cheap-feeling DuraPro that came with an electric screwdriver, so it may be time to get a real one.
It is a real one. Just not a good one.
--
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.


SandShark
Long may you run
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-23
Santa Fe, TX
kudos:3
reply to ctggzg
Is your water heater in the garage? It could be gas piping. If you have attic space above the garage, can you take a look above that wall?


Sweet Witch
Be the flame, not the moth.
Premium,MVM
join:2003-07-15
Gallifrey
reply to ctggzg
When the addition was being built on my mother's house I took tons of pictures so I know what is where behind all the drywall.
--
"While you can teach an old dog new tricks, you simply can't teach him to be a cat."

"Are you my Mummy?"


nightdesigns
Gone missing, back soon
Premium
join:2002-05-31
AZ
Reviews:
·CenturyLink
reply to ctggzg
I'm curious, how far "in" were you drilling when you felt that? If I'm drilling, I know that I only need to go about 1/2 to get through the drywall. I then feel carefully with the drill to see what's on the other side. You shouldn't need to go more than the 1/2" unless there's wood there and that should be pretty recognizable. If I feel anything else, I immediately stop and reevaluate if I need that hole right there and what it may be. If i need to drill further into that area, I may take a small hole saw and take a peak into the wall.
--
This Space for Rent...


StNickless

@tmodns.net
reply to ctggzg
YOU USE THIS!!!!
»www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/sto···1+502868

Yes, I know it's a screwdriver.
You drill a hole with it.
You insert it FULLY into said hole.
You swing it 360 degrees and FEEL FOR ANYTHING impeeding access of whatever you want to do inside the wall.

Every electrician and plumber I know that has to make holes in the wall does it this way.
It's FOOLPROOF.

Studfinders are rarely accurate, ask anyone who's used one twice.
Thumping on a wall (however done) is not accurate, EVER.

Feeling with a 9 inch rotating rod in a hole will be accurate, EVERY TIME.

ctggzg
Premium
join:2005-02-11
USA
kudos:2
reply to nightdesigns
said by nightdesigns:

I'm curious, how far "in" were you drilling when you felt that? If I'm drilling, I know that I only need to go about 1/2 to get through the drywall. I then feel carefully with the drill to see what's on the other side.
I was going slowly and stopping as soon as I got through. The metal is very near if not directly attached to the drywall.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting
reply to ctggzg
Based on my limited experience with Floridian construction, Your house may be built using concrete block on the outside walls. On the outside is stucco or siding. On the inside is a 3/4 to 1" steel "sleeper" that the drywall is screwed to. There are no actual "studs" like a stick framed home because the block walls do all the supporting of the structure. Much sturdier and hurricane resistant than stick framing.

Most of the houses I've watched go up in FL (post Andrew) were of this type construction.

I would assume you are hitting one of the sleepers, which are heavier gauge sheet metal than standard metal studs. Or, you are hitting the concrete block thinking it is steel.
--
Looks like Reverend Wright got his wish - God Damn America.

wierdo

join:2001-02-16
Tulsa, OK
reply to ctggzg
This is why it's worth spending $50 on a multifunctional stud finder.

Mine can sense the stud density, but also detects AC and metal, thus letting me know where not to drill.

It's also useful when using a long flex bit to drill into a wall cavity, as I can use the metal sensing feature to figure out where exactly in the wall I should cut a hole in the plaster to fish the wire out.

And the AC detection is great for tracing branch circuits.
--
It's wierdo, not weirdo. Yes, I know that's not the 'proper' spelling of the similar english language word.

firehawk618

join:2003-05-29
reply to ctggzg
Drill a hole ONLY through the sheetrock. If you can't get through the sheetrock without hitting metal move over 2" either way.

Once you have a pilot hole in the sheetrock, use your drill bit to probe and feel around in the hole for wires, pipes and such.

Also make sure to inspect the opposite side of where you are drilling to make sure there is no gas meter, water faucet, breaker box, meter box, etc etc etc.

Austinloop

join:2001-08-19
Austin, TX
kudos:1
reply to ctggzg
Don't know the actual age of the dwelling, but I do remember having to deal with metal studs trying to hang curtain rods in my daughter's apartment. What a PITA (and I don't mean the sandwich things)!!!!

TherapyChick

join:2003-09-19
Fayetteville, NC
reply to wierdo
said by wierdo:

This is why it's worth spending $50 on a multifunctional stud finder.

Mine can sense the stud density, but also detects AC and metal, thus letting me know where not to drill.
I think I need one of those for my metal building. My "regular" stud finder doesn't do so great on the metal studs in my walls.

ctggzg
Premium
join:2005-02-11
USA
kudos:2
reply to nunya
Yes, the outside walls are made from concrete blocks, but they end and change to drywall a few feet from where I'm working. And it's definitely metal because I can see it through the 1/4" hole.


SteveCon
IBEW 2222 Boston, MA
Premium
join:2004-09-02
Boston, MA

1 recommendation

reply to ctggzg
I've been working in the electrical trade as an apprentice and licensed electrician for over 30 years. One of the best tricks of the trade I ever learned was to use the bottom straight section of a plain old metal coat hanger as a drill bit. Cut the bottom off and then cut one end at about a 45 degree angle. This is the "cutting edge". The other end is chucked in a drill (battery drills are perfect for this).

You can use this "bit" to drill in walls or in floors (or ceilings for that matter) along walls to assist locating wall spaces on the first floor while looking up in the basement (or looking in attic floors for wall spaces below). Leave the "bit" sticking thru the floor (or ceiling) and after locating in the basement ceiling (or attic floor), adjust 2 inches over and drill directly into the wall space to fish cables, etc.

For walls, drill in, then use another coat hanger about 12 or more inches bent at 90 degrees so that one end is 8 - 9 inches long. Insert the 8 - 9 inch section into the wall, so that the short end is outside the wall to be used as a handle. Twist this end to swing the 9 inch section inside the wall space to help determine the location of framing members and other object in the void.

The beauty of this bit is that it is cheap, can be readily sharpened (cut the end again for a new "tip"), it's hard enough to go thru wood, but too soft to penetrate pipes, etc., unlike regular drill bits, can be run thru carpets without snagging, it makes holes that are so small they are practically invisible (or easily filled), are plentiful & cheap. I've used this drilling in seams of hardwood floor boards along walls and never had to patch.

It will take a little bit of time to find the right mix of drill speed and pressure to get the job done. Since the sides of the "bit" have no cutting edges, you can use your hand (gloves make the job really easier) to help support the wire bit as you push on the drill.

Use ordinary white toothpaste to quickly patch holes in sheet rock or plaster made with this bit.
--
The Labor Movement - those wonderful folks that brought you the weekend!


Sean34

@comcast.net
reply to ctggzg
One thing I have not seen mentioned is ... air duct. I've seen wall cavities used as pathways for heat pumps. I ended up crawling under the house an seen smaller duct hose headed up the wall right in the area I had started to drill.


HFB1217
The Wizard
Premium,ExMod 2000-01
join:2000-06-26
Camelot
kudos:2
reply to ctggzg
Why not run a 1x2 furring strip attaching it to the studs and then use the hangers for the wire shelving
--
****aka The WIZARD *** A Founding member of Seti BBR Team Starfire***


fruhead

join:2002-01-29
Mosquito,NJ
reply to SteveCon
said by SteveCon:

I've been working in the electrical trade as an apprentice and licensed electrician for over 30 years. One of the best tricks of the trade I ever learned was to use the bottom straight section of a plain old metal coat hanger as a drill bit. Cut the bottom off and then cut one end at about a 45 degree angle. This is the "cutting edge". The other end is chucked in a drill (battery drills are perfect for this).

You can use this "bit" to drill in walls or in floors (or ceilings for that matter) along walls to assist locating wall spaces on the first floor while looking up in the basement (or looking in attic floors for wall spaces below). Leave the "bit" sticking thru the floor (or ceiling) and after locating in the basement ceiling (or attic floor), adjust 2 inches over and drill directly into the wall space to fish cables, etc.

For walls, drill in, then use another coat hanger about 12 or more inches bent at 90 degrees so that one end is 8 - 9 inches long. Insert the 8 - 9 inch section into the wall, so that the short end is outside the wall to be used as a handle. Twist this end to swing the 9 inch section inside the wall space to help determine the location of framing members and other object in the void.

The beauty of this bit is that it is cheap, can be readily sharpened (cut the end again for a new "tip"), it's hard enough to go thru wood, but too soft to penetrate pipes, etc., unlike regular drill bits, can be run thru carpets without snagging, it makes holes that are so small they are practically invisible (or easily filled), are plentiful & cheap. I've used this drilling in seams of hardwood floor boards along walls and never had to patch.

It will take a little bit of time to find the right mix of drill speed and pressure to get the job done. Since the sides of the "bit" have no cutting edges, you can use your hand (gloves make the job really easier) to help support the wire bit as you push on the drill.

Use ordinary white toothpaste to quickly patch holes in sheet rock or plaster made with this bit.
This is...awesome.

You, my friend, should write a common-sense home electrical repair book. These are great tips.

Thank you!


sirchief
Premium
join:2001-12-14
Cromwell, CT

1 recommendation

reply to ctggzg
Just a wild guess here.....any chance you have metal studs and that's what you drilled into?

ctggzg
Premium
join:2005-02-11
USA
kudos:2
reply to ctggzg
I bought a $5 Zircon stud finder, and it DOES detect a stud (or something) where I hit metal. Problem solved. Thanks everyone.


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3
said by ctggzg:

I bought a $5 Zircon stud finder, and it DOES detect a stud (or something) where I hit metal. Problem solved.
If you drilled a hole into "something metal" and you don't know what it is, then it's not quite time to bring out the "problem solved" banner...