How to drill without any nasty surprises

Use a digital detection device to check walls before drilling.
Better safe than sorry: take the time to check the walls before you start drilling

If you simply start drilling a hole in the wall without giving it a second thought, there’s a good chance you’ll end up hitting a power cable, water pipe or some kind of metal. If you want to avoid a potentially fatal electric shock, flooding your home or breaking your drill, you should follow these tips.

Check before drilling

Drill more safely with a detection device
Not sure whether there’s a power cable behind the wall? A detection device will tell you

Whether you’re looking to put up some new shelves, mount a light or screw a cabinet on to the wall – before you reach for the drill, you should pick up a digital detection device. It can help you reduce the risks associated with drilling holes in your walls. But there are a few things to bear in mind when using it.

1. No rings, bracelets, watches or mobile phones

To avoid confusing the detection device, don’t wear any jewellery on your fingers or hands. Otherwise, the red LED light that means “Don’t drill here!” will be lit up the whole time. So, take off your rings, bracelets and watches before you start using the device. Other electronic devices, such as mobile phones, could also influence the results so should be put to one side, out of reach.

2. Position the entire device against the wall

The digital detection device will only show accurate results if it is entirely on the wall. Whether the surface is concrete or drywall – there’s no need to be shy!

3. Ensure grounding/equalisation

Hold the device in one hand. Place the other hand flat against the wall, around 20–30 cm away from the detection device. This will ensure grounding. This is especially important when looking for power lines, and won’t hurt in other instances. If there is insufficient grounding, for example, due to insulating footwear, or if you are standing on a conductor, it won’t be possible to detect live cables.

4. Move the device across the wall

To find a safe spot to drill into, you need to move the device across the wall with equal pressure. Always keep in mind that you should only move it along the x-axis. So, if you are moving the device horizontally across the wall, you should grip the device from below. And if you are moving it up or down (vertically), your grip should be at the side.

5. Move the device over the same place several times

The device needs to be moved over the same place several times to detect whether there is something behind the wall. If the light turns yellow, the result is inconclusive and you need to check the spot again. If it turns red, it has found something. Green? Nothing was detected and you’re good to go.

6. Switch on the power supply

To ensure the device can find the power supply, switch on electrical items such as a light or vacuum cleaner. A cable must have a current in order to be picked up by the device.

Please note: for your own safety, after detection you should switch off the power supply completely before you start drilling.

Please note:

For your own safety, after detection you should switch off the power supply completely before you start drilling.

Choosing the right drill for your wall

When it comes to drills and drill bits, you are spoiled for choice. But not every type of drill is right for every type of wall. So, how do you choose? First you need to find out what type of material your wall is made from, which is best done by drilling a small test hole.