How to Keep Your Shop-Vac Filter From Clogging
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A Shop-Vac, also known as a wet/dry vacuum, is a heavy-duty vacuum that picks up larger objects, such as screws or construction debris, and wet messes, such as spills and mess from overflowing toilets. Sadly, with repeated use, the filter is often the first to suffer as it can quickly become clogged with grit and grime.
Sure, you can always take the time to clean the filter thoroughly, but in just one week the filter will most probably become dirty and clogged again. But is there a way to keep a Shop-Vac filter from clogging?
The best way to keep your Shop-Vac filter from clogging is to install a filter bag. As air passes through the machine, it fills the bag first, passes through the filtered walls, then reaches the cartridge filter mostly clean. The Shop-Vac filter won’t clog because most of the dust has been filtered by the filter bag.
There are also other genius hacks. In this article, you will learn 5 methods to prevent your Shop-Vac filter from clogging. It will remain clean for a very long time without needing your constant supervision.
How to Keep Your Shop-Vac From Clogging
You should clean your Shop-Vac filter once per week, especially if you use it often. However, you can keep the filter clean for a very long time. Below are 5 hacks you can do to keep your Shop-Vac filter from clogging:
1. Install a Shop-Vac filter bag
The easiest thing you can do to prevent your Shop-Vac filter from clogging is to install a Shop-Vac filter bag. This porous, woven fabric bag sits inside the Shop-Vac tank and connects to the air inlet valve.
As air passes through the machine, it fills the bag first, passes through the filtered walls, then reaches the cartridge filter mostly clean. The cartridge filter catches even more of the smaller particles and the air that leaves the Shop-Vac’s blower contains far less contaminants.
With the Shop-Vac filter bag in place, the original cartridge filter of your Shop-Vac will last longer and work better. It won’t clog because most of the dust and debris have been filtered by the filter bag.
Additionally, it is much easier to clean up the mess using a Shop-Vac filter bag. Since all of the dust and debris are contained inside the bag, all you have to do is to remove it from your Shop-Vac and dispose of the bag.
2. Install a dust collection system
An effective dust collection system requires two things: a cyclone separator and a collection bin. The cyclone separator is where most of the magic happens. It will remove 95% to 99% of the dust from the air stream.
With the bulk of the dust removed, the cartridge filter will only have to remove the fine dust particles. However, a cyclone separator alone is not enough to prevent clogging from a Shop-Vac filter.
This is where a collection bin comes into play. All of the dust and debris collected by the cyclone separator will fall into the collection bin below it. You can use anything from a 5-gallon bucket to a 55-gallon drum, as long as it does two things: withstand the vacuum pressure and is sealed airtight.
If you are careful not to block the hose to your Shop-Vac, then just about any 5-gallon bucket will work just fine. Just mount the cyclone separator to the sealed bucket lid according to the instructions.
3. Combine the dust collection system and Shop-Vac filter bag
Using a disposable Shop-Vac filter bag can be expensive in the long run because you have to throw it away once it’s full. However, when you combine the Shop-Vac filter bag with the dust collection system, you can save a lot of money while preventing the Shop-Vac filter from clogging in the long run.
Here’s how it works. First, the cyclone separator will remove 95% to 99% of the dust from the air stream. The remaining 5% of the debris will then get picked up by the Shop-Vac filter bag.
Thanks to both the dust collection system (cyclone separator and collection bin) and the Shop-Vac filter bag, the cartridge filter now only has to capture the very fine particles that pass through the bag. This extends the life of the filter dramatically and prevents it from clogging.
Think of the cyclone separator as the first line of defense and the filter bag as the second line of defense. Anything that passes through is most likely very fine and won’t take a toll on the filter.
By combining the dust collection system and the Shop-Vac filter bag, you don’t have to constantly replace the bag and clean the filter because most of the dust has been picked up by the dust collection system.
4. Use a high-quality cartridge filter
A Shop-Vac filter bag is perfect to store all the dust and debris, but it does not capture the finest particles, which are the most dangerous of them all. To do that, you’ll need a high-quality cartridge filter.
Most Shop-Vacs come with a high-quality filter, but some do not. To prevent your filter from clogging, make sure you use a high-quality filter that does not pass the harmful particles back into your workspace.
I recommend this 5-layer HEPA filter from Ridgid. That is Ridgid’s highest rated filter, which is made from HEPA rated material. This means the material will capture 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns or larger.
Remember, the most dangerous fine particles are too small to see with the naked eye so you will have to rely on the performance of your Shop-Vac’s filter. A good filter will protect you from the dangers of fine dust.
5. Invest in a powerful Shop-Vac with a high CFM
All the hacks in the world can’t prevent your Shop-Vac filter from clogging if your Shop-Vac is not powerful to begin with. If you don’t want to deal with a clogged filter, you should invest in a powerful Shop-Vac.
Whatever your budget and preferences are, you should choose a Shop-Vac with at least 100 CFM of airflow. I don’t recommend using anything with less than 150 CFM for general shop cleaning.
If the manufacturer does not state the CFM, just look at the amp rating of the motor. Anything over 12 Amps should work just fine. With a powerful Shop-Vac, you’ll most likely experience less clogging.
And there you have it, 5 ways on how to prevent your Shop-Vac filter from clogging. Even if you clean the filter frequently, it will clog quickly. By employing these hacks, your filter will remain clean for a very long time.