My Dewalt Drill Is Smoking – Why? What To Do?

You can count on your Dewalt drill to help you drill holes and fasten screws, among other fasteners. But sometimes, this drill could start smoking. Why does this happen, and what can you do about it? We researched the topic to bring you an answer.

Your Dewalt drill can start smoking if its motor overheats. Motors often overheat when you overwork the appliance. Sometimes, the drill's air vents might be blocked, thus trapping hot air inside the tool.

In such instances, it is best to stop using the drill and allow the motor to cool for a few minutes before working again. You can also blow the vents to clear them. If the problem is still unresolved, you might need to abandon the task until you get a new drill. 

Keep reading as we elaborate further on why your Dewalt drill could be smoking and offer ways to resolve the issue. We will also tackle ways to keep your drill from overheating and share tips on choosing a suitable power drill. Without further ado, let's dive right in.

How To Diagnose A Dewalt Drill That Is Smoking

Construction Site Power Drill Tools. Contractor Worker with Powerful Cordless Drill Driver in Hand, My Dewalt Drill Is Smoking - Why? What To Do?

Dewalt drills are easy to use and have a long useful life. So, they are common among DIY-ers since you can use them to perform tasks such as hanging photos or even assembling furniture.

But the drill may sometimes malfunction, thus emitting smoke when in use. Understanding why this happens will better equip you to resolve the issue or make an informed decision on whether it is time to invest in a new drill.

Motor Overheating

Generally, your Dewalt drill may start smoking if the motor overheats. Using your drill to perform tasks for which it is ill-equipped, such as mixing mortar, overloads the motor. Also, using a dull drill bit to drill through hardwood overworks it, thus causing it to overheat. 

Seized motor bearings can cause sparking within the motor, generating excessive heat.

Clogged Vents

The motor generates heat as it works. To counter this, it has openings through which cold air gets in to cool it. Hot air also leaves the drill via these vents.

Dirt can block the vents, trapping heat. If you keep using your drill, it might eventually start smoking.

Worn Carbon Brushes

Carbon brushes rotate on the commutator to generate power. They then supply the power to the armature.

Repeated use of the drill causes the carbon brushes to wear out, thus resulting in more sparking. The worn brushes can also cause the drill to smoke.

How To Repair A Smoking Dewalt Drill 

Professional doing drill in the wall

The following methods to repair your drill will help you restore it's function so you can get the job done!

Overheating Motor Repairs

It is ideal to stop using a drill that emits smoke for a few minutes to let the motor cool down and for the smoke to dissipate.

Overloaded Motor

If you suspect motor overloading to be the cause of smoking, it is best to relegate the task to a more powerful device.

You can try drilling a piece of softwood, then check whether the drill still produces smoke. You may have overloaded the power tool if there is no smoke.

Sometimes, using the drill for extended periods can cause it to overheat. So, it is best to let it rest for a few minutes before continuing your task.

Defective Drill Bit

You can also change the drill bit and assess if the problem persists. Alternatively, you can use a drill bit sharpener to sharpen drill bits. 

Check out this drill bit sharpener on Amazon.

It is also possible that the drill may be in good condition but is unsuitable for the job. For this reason, vary the drill bits according to the task at hand. You may even need to invest in specialty masonry drill bits to drill into plaster or bricks.

See this drill bit set on Amazon.

Seized Bearings

If your motor is sparking, you may need to inspect and replace the bearings. To do this, detach the motor from the chuck and spindle assembly, then inspect the drill casing that houses the bearings for burn marks. You can also spin the drills by hand to identify the seized bearing.

Use a hammer and punch to tap the shaft so you can release the seized bearing. Then, carefully replace the defective bearing with a new one to avoid damaging the new one. 

Use a hammer to secure the new bearing in place the reassemble the chuck and spindle back in the case.

See this pin punch set on Amazon

You can also watch this video for a visual guide:

Clean Clogged Vents

It is best to use compressed air to clean the vents. You can also use an electrical contact cleaner to ensure that you do a thorough cleaning job. Restoring proper airflow can keep the motor from overheating and, consequently, smoking.

Replace Worn Carbon Brushes

You can replace the carbon brushes installed in a high-end drill. But if you have a cheaper model, your best bet is to replace the motor. 

This video will guide you when replacing the worn carbon brushes:

Buy A New Drill

With proper care, your Dewalt drill can last for years. But this doesn't mean that they don't exhaust their service life. So, if all the steps above do not resolve the smoke problem, it may be time to retire the power tool and invest in a new one.

You can opt to take it to a Dewalt service shop first for a thorough examination to help you determine if replacing rather than it is more cost-effective. 

How To Keep Your Drill's Drill Bit From Overheating

Drilling in a wall causes friction and heat on a drill bit

We've mentioned that letting your drill cool for some time is necessary to keep it from overheating. But sometimes, you might not have the luxury of waiting when executing a time-constrained project. So, you might want to carry out the project continuously.

Here are some measures you can put in place to cool down the drill bit when speed drilling.

Taper The Drilling Speed

Friction between the drill bit and the surface you are working on generates heat. As friction increases, the heat produced also increases.

Tapering your drilling speed minimizes friction, thus reducing the quantity of heat generated. 

Immerse The Drill Bit In Water When Drilling

Water serves as a coolant. So, it is best to submerge your drill bit after some drilling rounds to keep it from overheating, thus rendering it unusable. Remember to wipe the water off the drill before re-embarking on your project. 

Please note that it is not suitable to immerse the drill bit in water once it overheats - instant cooling can damage the drill bit. Also, you should use water as a coolant when drilling wood and plastic. Water is not a suitable coolant when drilling steel. 

Lubricate The Drill Bit With Cutting Oil

Cutting fluid is a suitable lubricant for the drill bit when drilling steel or metal. Additionally, avoid forcing the drill when drilling to avoid smoking, 

You can drill in small bits until you achieve your desired size. That way, the drilling remains manageable, and you keep your drill from damage.

See this cutting fluid on Amazon.

How To Choose A Suitable Drill

Cordless drill tool box with various accessories The tool concept is easy to use, convenient and suitable for DIY the job

Since drills have a long useful life, it is best to choose a suitable tool from the get-go to ensure that it serves you well.

These pointers will guide you when shopping for an ideal drill.

Consider The Projects You Need The Drill For

Different projects require different motor strengths. So, ensure that you match the drill to the job. 

You need a drill within the 6V to 7.2V range for light maintenance and repair tasks, such as installing drywall anchors, replacing door hinges, or even mounting drapery brackets. Drill portability is also a key consideration for tasks within this bracket.

If your main interest is repair and remodeling, investing in a drill with at least 9.6V power is best. Although a 12V drill may be more effective, it is bigger and weighs more. You'll also need the drill to have variable speed, a clutch, and a T-handle.

Projects in the heavy-duty construction bracket require drills with at least 12V power, but a 14.4V drill model may be best. These include: building a deck and drilling into masonry and steel.

Single Purpose Vs. Multi-Functionality

A two-in-one drill that enables you to drill and hammer may be ideal if your projects regularly involve drilling and hammering. But it is important to note that the dual functionality may reduce the efficiency of the drill's drilling ability.

Comfortable Grip

drilling wood plank with a battery drill

A drill that has a comfortable grip makes carrying out your projects fun. Additionally, it makes it easier to control the drill, thus resulting in a well-done job.


It is necessary to stick to a budget when purchasing a power drill. However, it would be best if you did not opt to save money at the expense of your safety. 

If you want to buy a heavy-duty drill but do not have enough money to buy a new one, consider purchasing a secondhand power drill from a reputable source. 

It would also be best to ask a drill professional to assess whether the drill is in good working condition before buying. You want to avoid purchasing a tool that will break down as soon as you begin your project. 

You might also be able to rent a drill from a hardware supplier.

Final Thoughts

Construction Site Power Drill Tools. Contractor Worker with Powerful Cordless Drill Driver in Hand

Smoke from your drill implies something is wrong with the power drill. So, please do not ignore it. We hope the information we have shared in this post will help you diagnose your drill and resolve the matter.

Before you go, kindly consider checking out our other posts:

How To Change The Bit On A Dewalt Drill [Quickly And Easily]

Dewalt Battery Won't Charge – Why? What To Do?

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