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The Ultimate Guide To Drop-in Anchors and Setting Tools

drop in anchor setting tools how to guide

Welcome to the ultimate guide to drop in anchors and setting tools. This guide will cover the critical information you need to know about drop in anchors, including:

  • What drop in anchors are
  • What they are used for
  • The best tools to use with drop in anchors
  • How to install drop in anchors using a drop in anchor setting tool

What Are Drop-in Anchors?

Drop in anchors, sometimes referred to as DIA or “flush anchors,” are female anchors used to anchor into concrete. A construction professional drills a hole into the concrete and then "drops" the anchor into the pre-drilled hole to secure it.

Once the drop in anchor is installed, the installation remains forever. Drop in anchors require a drop in anchor setting tool to bolt. You can use these anchors both on any concrete surface to secure objects to the desired area. While the drop in anchor is permanent, the new threaded hole allows a bolt to be removed or unscrewed when needed.

Pro Tip: Drop in anchors require tools called “setting tools,” or DIAST, in order to install them quickly and safely. If you don't have an anchor setting tool, you can purchase one directly from our website. We provide setting tools of different sizes that can be used for all anchoring purposes.

What Are Drop-in Anchors Used For?

There are many uses for drop in anchors. The main advantage is that you can use them for bolts that need to be removed periodically. Drop in anchors can also be used:

  • When working with solid concrete material
  • To manage cable trays, organize HVAC systems, and organize fire sprinklers
  • In situations when you need a bolt that has to be inserted and removed regularly

    Tools Needed To Install Drop-in Anchors

    Installing drop in anchors requires an array of tools. You can expect to use:

    • A drop in anchor setting tool
    • A rotary hammer (also known as a “hammer drill”)
    • Masonry drill bits
    • Blow tubes, blow bulb, or vacuum
    • Threaded bolts

    Anchor-setting tools are an integral part of the process because drop in anchors can't be installed with a single motion. You need the setting tools to expand the anchors within the hole you drilled.

    Size & Materials – Drop-in Anchors

    Drop in anchors come in different sizes and materials, depending on your needs. Most drop in anchors are made from zinc-plated carbon steel material.

    The drop in dimensions available range from 1/4" up to 3/4" and they all install flush. Drop in anchors are typically manufactured in five different diameters — 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", and 3/4". The anchor length varies. The anchor size refers to the thread dimension that the anchor will receive.

    To find the proper size drop in anchor setting tool, you use the threaded dimension of the anchor, for example, 1/4”, 3/8”, 1/2”.

    Drop-in Anchor Holding Power

    The holding power of drop in anchors varies. Drop in anchors have smooth sides which provide more space for the surface area to remain in contact with concrete which boosts the holding value. The main variable that determines the holding value of your drop in anchor is the depth of the embedment and the psi (pounds per square of inch) of the concrete. Other factors that affect the holding value are whether there is steel rebar in the concrete.

    Need-to-Know Information Before Drop-in Anchor Installation

    • To install the anchor, a professional drops the anchor in the previously drilled hole with the threaded open end facing the surface. Then using a drop in anchor set tool, he sets the anchor by driving the internal wedge deep into the anchor.
    • Similar to other female anchors, the specific drop in anchor size serves as a reference for the internal thread diameter of the anchor. This is the size of the hardware or bolt used to attach appliances.
    • The measured outside diameter has to be equal to the hole diameter that you're going to drill into the concrete.
    • The length of the drop in anchor is essentially the minimum embedment of the diameter.
    • The bottom of the hole is used to set the anchor.
    • It may take you a while to obtain the necessary tools in order to secure handrails, machines, overhead hangers, lights, and more to the anchors.
    • Most drop in anchors are suitable for heavy-duty fastening.

    How To Install Drop in Anchors: 10 Steps

    Here's how to install drop in anchors in 10 steps:

    Step 1) Prepare the equipment. To get started, you need to have the anchor and the adequate masonry drill bit. The drop in manufacturer should list the exact size hole you need to make to install the anchor on the anchor box.

    Pro Tip: Research this information before you start. You can get it from the specific manufacturer of the anchors you're installing.

    Step 2) Adjust the drill bit depth. The adjustment should be based on the hole you need to drill (after doing your research on depth). The depth should be adjusted on the hammer drill. Mark the area on the drill bit at the exact point you need to stop drilling, in order to drill an accurate hole. You can use a piece of tape on the drill bit to mark this.

    Step 3) Switch your hammer drill to "drill mode". The default mode will be "drill mode". With certain drills, you won't need to do this.

    Step 4) Put on your protective gear. At this stage, you're getting ready to drill and you should protect your eyes, ears, and hands adequately. You need to wear protective equipment before you start drilling.

    Step 5) Start drilling in the marked point of the concrete. Keep drilling until you reach the required depth. The marking on the drill bit should indicate where you need to stop. Use the hammer drill to create a hole using a carbide drill bit. The drill bit size required should be listed on the drop in anchor box or on the manufacturer’s website.

    Step 6) Clean out the hole. This is done to remove any debris from the area. Use a blow tube or blow bulb to blow debris out of the hole. Blow a second time and make sure the hole is fully cleared of debris. Insert the setting tool in your hammer drill and hammer until the set tool and the anchor shoulder meet.

    Alternative: Use a vacuum to clear away any dust or debris - they work similarly.

    Step 7) Start the anchoring process by dropping the anchor inside the hole. Make sure the opening of the anchor is facing the exit.

    Step 8) Take your drop in anchor setting tool and insert it at the top of the anchor. Proceed to hammer down on it until your setting tool touches the top of the anchor or until it moves no further forward. The anchor should be fully secured in the hole.

    Step 9) Once the anchor is secured, you can start attaching your fixtures to the concrete.

    Step 10) Insert a threaded rod or bolt into the fixture. This is the final step once the fixture is over the drop in anchor.

    Safety While Installing Drop-in Anchors

    Apply caution during the anchoring process. There are certain things you need to pay attention to when it comes to the weight capacity of the anchors:

    • The anchor's load capacity can be affected and lessened if you drill oversized holes because this makes it harder to set the anchor properly.
    • The load tables you see by manufacturers are usually from their own tests and may not be reflective of reality when you anchor them yourself.

    The Faster, Safer Way to Set Drop-in Anchors

    With this information, you are ready to start using drop in anchors on your projects. Getting the job done quickly and safely can make all the difference. That is why Set it FAST has created a drop in anchor setting tool set to give concrete construction teams a competitive edge. Available in three sizes, these DIAST are the setting tools of choice amongst professional contractors. Find our full DIAST product line here.