This is why your hammer drill won’t go through brick


Many DIYers buy hammer drills for the sole reason of drilling through brick or concrete. However, there are some instances where you or someone you know have failed to do so and thought, “Why won’t this hammer drill go through brick.” Below we detail some possible causes and solutions and the best gear and accessories to use while attempting to drill through brick.

There is a lot of different factors that come into play when your hammer drill will not penetrate brick. The most common reason why a hammer drill is not drilling brick is usually that the wrong type of bit is being utilized. Ensure that you are using a masonry drill bit to help your hammer drill penetrate the brick.

Below we will discuss some of the other reasons why a hammer drill might be unable to drill through brick, along with the correct way for drilling through brick. We will also discuss the correct drill bits and accessories to help you drill through brick, concrete, and other hard substances.

Reasons you are unable to drill through brick

So you have changed your drill bit and ensured that you have a masonry bit attached to your hammer drill, but you are still unable to drill through brick. Why is this? Below we list some other issues that might prohibit your hammer drill from penetrating brick.

  1. The drill is set on the wrong setting or mode. Most modern hammer drills have a dial or switch that allows you to cycle through different modes on the power tool. Usually, three settings are most common. The drill mode, for penetrating wood, plastic or softer materials. A drive mode that is used to secure or drive screws into materials. And finally, a hammer mode, after which the drill is named. The last setting or mode is designed to help the drill penetrate into denser, harder materials by utilizing a back and forth action that hammers the drill bit into the brick.
  2. The hammer drill is set on reverse. This might seem like an simple mistake, but it’s often made by professionals and novices alike. Most drills have a selector switch that enables the drill to rotate both clockwise and anti-clockwise. The purpose behind this switch is multi-functional. One function is for driving or removing screws, bolts, or nuts. The other is for unjamming the hammer drill’s bit from a tough piece of wood or other material. If your hammer drill is set on the anti-clockwise rotation setting, the drill bit might not penetrate into the brick, as the drill bit is often designed only to penetrate one way.
  3. You are using the wrong drill speed. Too much speed is a real issue when drilling into brick, as the drill bit might overheat and dull quickly. Hammer drills usually have a speed setting on the tool itself. The speed setting usually is numbered or indicated with notches or bars going from small to large. When drilling brick or masonry materials, it is wise to go slower to ensure your bit does not overheat. Drilling slower will also help prevent you from drilling crooked holes.
  4. The wrong amount of pressure is being used. There is a sensitive balance between too little pressure and too much pressure. Too much pressure will result in the motor of your hammer drill burning out or the drill breaking off. Too little pressure and the drill bit will skate around, and you might end up with a chipped surface. The best way to ensure that you apply the correct pressure is to start with a low to medium amount of pressure and steadily increase it until you see and feel the drill bit bite into the brick. When the bit starts to pierce the brick, slowly release the pressure as you feel the drill moving into the brick.
  5. Drill bits can make a world of difference when properly utilized. The same is true of the opposite as well. Using the wrong drill bit, as mentioned above, can prevent you from drilling through brick. For the best results, use drill bits that are diamond or carbide tipped. Not only will this help penetrate the brick, but it will also remain cooler than standard drill bits. Make sure that you are also using the correct-sized drill bits. Too small, and the bit could break off. Too big, and the drill will not generate enough power to rotate the drill bit at the right speed.

How to drill through a brick with a hammer drill

You have followed the steps above and made sure that you have the correct equipment for drilling through brick. You should be ready to tackle that wall head-on. If you are still unsure how to proceed, read on to find out how to use a hammer drill on a brick wall as we detail step by step.

  1. Safety first, make sure to wear protective goggles to prevent dust or brick fragments from blinding you. Wear a dust mask to prevent choking on any dust that is produced through the process. Hammer drills can be loud, especially when drilling brick or concrete, so use ear protection. If you are using a corded hammer drill, make sure that the cord is not a trip hazard for you or anyone around you. When you use a ladder, make sure that it is stabilized or anchored to avoid trips and falls.
  2. On the wall, mark where you would like to make your holes. Use a carpenter’s pencil or regular pencil. Ensure that your measurements are square and level if you are planning to mount something. Otherwise, you can end up with a crooked or skew mounting. Use a spirit level or laser level measuring tool to ensure straight and level holes. Remember to double-check your measurements, as it will look untoward if you drill random holes in a brick wall. Also, you can damage the structural integrity of the brick by drilling it too many times.
  3. When you fit your masonry drill bit, use a depth setting ring or a piece of masking tape to mark how deep you would like to drill. If you want to drill straight through, make sure that the masonry drill bit is long enough to penetrate through the brick.
  4. Before you start to drill, ensure that there is no electrical wiring or pipes running inside the walls you plan to drill. Use a circuit or wire tracer to trace the electrical wires in your wall. This will prevent you from electrocuting yourself or damaging your electrical grid. For pipes, you can use a stud finder or an electronic multi scanner. Using either of these devices may sound like overkill, but water- and electrical damage is no joke.
  5. You are just about ready now. Place the tip of your carbide drill bit on the mark where you wish to drill. Remember, you want to go slow and steady, so brace yourself. Ensure your hammer drill is switched to the correct settings. Slowly squeeze the power button, and apply pressure smoothly and gently until the bit starts to penetrate. If your hammer drill’s power is controlled via a pressure switch, keep your trigger finger steady and maintain a slow and steady speed. Clear out the flutes of the drill bits regularly by removing the drill bit from the hole. Not only will this indicate if the dirll bit is heating up too much. It will also prevent jamming.
  6. If your drill bit jams or gets stuck, don’t panic. Switch the drill mode to counter-clockwise and slowly reverse the drill out, using the same amount of power as before. The drill bit should come out without any issues. If this does not work, disconnect the hammer drill from the bit and use a Stillson wrench to remove the bit by turning it anti-clockwise. Use the reverse maneuver to clear the hole of any excess dust and particulates before drilling again. Clean the flutes of the drill bit and proceed again to drill. Remember that depending on the type, this whole process of drilling might take longer. So be patient and do not rush.
  7. Remember to switch off the power to your hammer drill when not using it or changing bits. This will help prevent that neither you nor your loved ones hurt themselves.

Final Thoughts

Following the above steps should solve any issues you have while drilling into brick walls. Using the right tools with the right accessories properly goes a long way towards accomplishing a task. Use the lists above to ensure that you have and know everything you need to drill through brick. If you run into any trouble or issues, remember there is no shame in calling in the professionals to help you out. Rather be safe than sorry.

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