While attempting to hang a coat rack in my basement on an exterior wall, my drill hit some metal. I know that there are water pipes in the area, so I want to make sure that I am not going to cause any water damage.

This is where I was drilling:

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  • What did I hit? It doesn't look like a water pipe.
  • Why is there plastic there? Is it an issue that it now has a hole in it?
  • Do I need to do anything other than add some polyfilla to cover this hole?
  • 2
    Suggest you embiggen the hole a bit to get a really good sense of what you’ve got. (Small hole=large hole, where patching is concerned.) Jan 29, 2022 at 19:15
  • 1
    Seeing you already made an inspection hole, finish inspecting and see. With water pipes just hitting should not cause enough damage, kept drilling into is another thing. Carefully clean away till you can see, then cover up. External walls will have plastic vapour barrier in them.
    – crip659
    Jan 29, 2022 at 19:17
  • 4
    Common to have steel protective plates to prevent drilling into pipes and wires.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 29, 2022 at 19:34
  • Yes, there will be a steel guard plate if the pipe is nearer the surface than the codebook requires. Generally code says pipes and wires must be kept >1.5" from wall surfaces, or guarded. Jan 29, 2022 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


It's highly likely that you hit a steel protection plate. These are installed on studs where holes have been drilled through for plumbing or electrical work behind them.

Normally, it's expected that anything through the stud will leave at least 1" of wood, so if the hole is closer to the face of the stud than that 1", it's required to have a plate over it for precisely this reason. Sometimes, plates can be put on even if the hole is more than 1" from the face of the stud.

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