Can You Electrocute Yourself Drilling Into A Wall? The Truth Revealed

DIY home improvement projects provide great satisfaction once they are complete.

Improvements like installing framed photos and swapping old décor with new pops add a fresh look while making your space feel homey.

If you’re planning to undertake a project that involves drilling into walls, you might want to know:

Can You Electrocute Yourself Drilling Into A Wall?

The answer is YES. You can suffer electrocution if you hit a current-carrying wire inside a wall, particularly if you use a conductive case drill. Thousands of unlucky homeowners damage their appliances or suffer electrocution every year when drilling into walls. Thankfully, modern drills are designed with non-conductive cases that help reduce the chances of getting electrocuted.

Generally, drilling into walls is a dangerous endeavor because you can hardly tell what is behind a wall, no matter how safe it appears to be.

If you don’t have blueprints for your home, it makes perfect sense to hire a professional service to handle the job.

See Also: Can You Safely Drill Into A Vent?

This post will cover more about drilling into walls and tips to do it properly and safely.

KNOW THIS Before Drilling Into The Wall

Drilling into walls can be dangerous.

There is the risk of drilling into an electrical wire, gas line, or water pipe, which can be hazardous.

The risk of hitting a line increases when working in bathrooms and kitchens because they usually have complex networks due to many fixtures connected to electricity, water, and sewer.

Interestingly, you can still drill into a wall without hitting wires or pipes. You only need to note and master a few things before embarking on your project.

Electrical wiring tends to follow a certain pattern — the cables usually run vertically and horizontally from outlets and fixtures.

For this reason, you should avoid drilling around switches and outlets.

It is important to also note that wires and pipes often run from below if you have a basement or crawl space or above if you have a cement foundation.

Looking in basement, or crawl space can give you an idea of where the wires and pipes go up and down through the walls.

Surprisingly, this is the trick many professionals use to avoid wires and pipes when drilling into walls.

Three Ways To Avoid Electrocution When Drilling Into A Wall

There are no guarantees about the location of wires and pipes behind your walls.

As a result, there is no sure way to avoid hitting wires when drilling into a wall; you just need to be cautious when drilling.

Besides inspecting the wall you want to drill and checking in the attic to get an idea of the location of wires and pipes, here are tips to avoid hitting wires behind walls:

1. Get A Stud Finder Or Voltage Detector

Wall Studs Are vertical posts running between the floor and ceiling, and it is common to find electrical wires installed along them.

As such, locating your studs and avoiding them when drilling into a wall can mean avoiding electrical wires.

An easy, non-invasive way to identify studs that have wires along them is by using a stud finder with a wire-tracing mode or a voltage detector.

When using a stud finder, make sure to turn the AC mode on to be able to locate wires behind walls.

2. Avoid Drilling Deeper

Drilling through an electrical wire can be disastrous.

Considering that most electrical power cables are usually at least an inch into the wall when properly installed, avoiding drilling deeper will keep you from hitting wires.

Before you start drilling, wrap a piece of masking tape around the drill bit at about ½ – ¾″.

This will ensure you don’t drill past the drywall, minimizing your chances of hitting a wire.

3. Don’t Force

One of the reasons electrical codes require cables to be at least an inch below the finished surface is to keep homeowners from drilling into electrical cables.

However, it is not uncommon to find wires passing through 2×4 studs.

To prevent drilling through the cables, a metal plate is usually used to cover the side of the stud, providing much-needed resistance.

If you encounter resistance, stop drilling.

Forcing your drill through resistance can result in damage or break your drill bit.

What To Do When You Drill Through An Electrical Wire

If you drill through an electrical wire, you will almost certainly notice immediately.

After hitting a wire, you will notice a spark, hear a pop sound, and possibly experience a power outage. 

Whatever the signs, if you accidentally hit a current-carrying wire or suspect you’ve hit an electric cable, STOP drilling immediately and turn off the breaker that controls the circuit.

For optimal safety, you may want to turn off the main breaker beforehand.

Once you are certain that no current is flowing, it is time to repair the circuit. While it can be tempting to tackle the repairs yourself, it is best to call your local licensed electrician to do the repairs.

Repairing wires behind a wall can be tricky, and doing the job incorrectly can create new hazards.

After the circuit is repaired, call a professional service to do the drilling and installation. A local drilling service can save you stress, time, and costly mishaps related to drilling into walls.


While DIY projects are an easy way to keep yourself busy during weekends, some projects can be risky.

Whether you are adding shelving or new décor, if you plan to drill into a wall, it is always good to prepare adequately and be cautious throughout the project.

Hitting an electrical wire can electrocute you or cause other hazards.

For safety reasons and to avoid costly repairs, it is best to hire a professional drilling service to get the job done right and safely.