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28 January, 2022 by
Mohammad Alkhateeb

6 Reasons Your Drill Won’t Go Through Walls

1.      Drill Bit Can’t Or Won’t Enter The Wall? Check Drill Rotation Direction

You have marked the wall, started the drill, and…nothing happens. Or perhaps you were drilling for a while but then you hit something hard and you’re not sure what it is. Everyone that has drilled into a wall before has been there. 

The most common reason a drill will not penetrate a wall is because the drill is spinning in the wrong direction. When the drill bit enters the wall and encounters a hard obstacle, the typical cause is a metal plate or masonry obstruction.

For forward direction, the drill should rotate clockwise. If it’s set to counterclockwise, it will be difficult for it to make any progress into drywall (or plaster). 

Check your drill for the button to change the rotation direction. 

2.      Drill Bit May Be Dull


Plaster can dull your drill bits significantly. If your drill bit can drill through drywall but can’t penetrate the stud behind it, send another bit. A dull bit should still make it through drywall since it is a soft material, but it will struggle with wood. 


Replace the drill bit with a newer one should solve the problem. This is especially the case if you frequently drill wood or have used it on masonry or metal. 


3.       Battery Is Not Charged


If your battery is fully charged and you still can’t penetrate, use a corded drill to see if you can drill a small pilot hole. If you can, then the cordless drill is not powerful enough. 


If you are still hitting an obstruction with the corded drill, then there is another reason.


4.      Metal Plate In The Wall

The average wall hides many useful things like pipes, electrical wires, or ductwork. Accidentally hitting any of these, even if you knew where they are, would be disastrous. To avoid this, metal plates are typically used and are intended to stop drills. Then when you hit a metal plate, you know you are about to cause yourself a lot of problems with pipes or wires. 

Stop drilling in this spot and move up or down about 12cm or so. Do you still hit an obstacle? 

Hopefully you only hit a stud, which might even be what you are looking for. This you can penetrate easily with a drill bit. 

5.      Masonry Constructions Will Challenge Your Drill


When you are working on an exterior wall or chimney are, you will encounter masonry. This could either be brick, cement, or cinder blocks.

Due to the way drywall is attached to masonry, you will usually drill through the drywall and then a gap and then hit the masonry.

You can confirm this by finding the furring strips which were used to attach the drywall to the masonry construct. By using a magnetic stud finder, and you should find the nails of the furring strips. Drill a hole a few inches to left or right of the nail. If you hit wood again, then you have found the furring strips.  

6.      Newer Constructions Have Steel Studs

If your home is new and you have ruled out all the other reasons for why your drill won’t penetrate, it is likely you have encountered steel studs. They are more popular in the construction of new homes. 

While there are ways of confirming this, none of them are great:

1.      You can check with the contractor that built your home (if you know who they are). Or alternatively consult the documents from the build if you have them.

2.      You could cut a hole in the drywall to see what is behind it. This is not advised though since it is a very time-consuming and unpleasant task to patch up again.

3.      You could take the cover plate off an electric outlet and then shine a flashlight from the side to see through the gap between the drywall and electric outlet. Most builders will have minimised this gap though, so it should only work if you are very lucky. 

The cost of accidentally into a pipe or electrical, and ductwork is very high, so it is highly advisable to consult a professional at this point. They will be able to determine if you have steel studs so you can forego any accidents if you simply assume you have steel studs.