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How to Avoid Electricals Behind Walls When Drilling It?


We often need to hang pictures or mount a shelf on the wall. So, drilling to anchor a hook or nail becomes necessary. But while drilling, you might end up messing with a cable or pipe. So, if you are not willing to hire a drilling service provider, then you ought to proceed carefully with the process. Hitting a pipe or damaging an electric cable could not only prove to be an expensive affair but could be dangerous too. A few precautions and a few tools could save you from damages caused by ineffective drilling.

1. Choose a safe location:

It is better to avoid drilling near light switches and sockets. A good wiring system does not have wires running horizontally across the middle of the wall. They either go vertically up or down, and the horizontal lining is near the floor or the ceiling. But near the switchboard that they lie horizontally at a distance of 6-12 inches above the receptacle.  You can take the faceplate of the switchboard and check for any horizontal wiring. So, one has to avoid these areas for drilling. You should also not drill near places with light fittings. For a beginner, meddling near the kitchen and bathroom could be a problem. In kitchens, we tend to use many electrical devices such as oven, toaster, blender, coffee maker, etc. So the number of electrical outlets available is more and so is the wiring level. You also run the risk of hitting the water pipes. 

2. Avoid deep drilling initially:

Cable wires are concealed an inch inside the wall. So for simple hook or nail, light drilling is sufficient. Use a circuit breaker and disconnect all electrical devices from the circuit. Then use a drill connected through an extension, say an extension cord that you could plug in a distant circuit/ switchboard. Also, deep drilling requires more power, and when done wrongly, it leads to irrevocable damage to the wall. It is very dangerous when you come in contact with a live wire.

3. Check for the wire presence:

You can use different tools for finding the electric wires behind the wall. One such tool is the stud finder. Studs are wooden or metallic (steel) structures that form the base frame of the wall. Electric wires are attached at the sides of a stud with staples. So, using a stud finder, we can detect wires and avoid the area concerned. You can mark all the places with studs in the wall. The stud finders work by detecting changes in the electrical field or metallic radiation levels. Once you confirm the presence of the wire, you can check for a live wire, using the voltage detector. If necessary, you can drill slightly when the wire concerned is not live. You could use the plumbing inspection camera for detecting pipes.

4. Get the electrical plan of the household:

Try to get the architectural drawing of your residence. They will have information on the electrical lining too. Get an expert to explain it if you find it hard to comprehend the drawing. From the picture, you could quickly get the safe zones for drilling. If the wiring map is not available with you, then you should have an idea of the wiring regulations of your country. As a general rule, you should choose flat plain walls for drilling. The protruding and boxed region of the wall is for some specific purposes, like placing the soil stack pipe. Similarly, the corner areas of the wall could be a potential danger area for drilling.   

5. Be alert and look for suspicious element:

You should remember that the digital detectors are not a hundred percent accurate. For example, plastic pipes and even plastic-covered cords cannot be highlighted by voltage-based or magnetic tools. It is also necessary that the drilling machine has a blunt edge, and you move it slowly. If you drilling is either too fast or too slow, then there is either a cord or pipe behind. It is advisable not to proceed further with the drilling process.

Though we have many reasons to drill a wall, we can avoid it and go for newer and modern methods for hanging things on the wall. You could use ready-made anchors that require a simple screwdriver for attaching to the wall. One has to take note of their load-bearing capacity and buy a suitable anchor. For picture hanging, you could go for replaceable hooks. It would help if you also considered using wall-mounted brackets and picture cleats for better safety of the equipment and photo frames. For tapestry, wall clamps are available. These could fasten to the wall, and there is no need for drilling a hole. It is also advisable to know the type of wall before attaching the heavy load to it. 

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