How to Reverse Vacuum Cleaner Airflow (Use As Blower)

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Vacuums are used to suck up debris and tidy up a space. However, it would be convenient to have one machine that can both suck air and blow it out. This would prevent you from having to switch tools.

While some vacuums allow you to toggle between the functions, many do not serve this dual purpose. 

Luckily, there are ways to turn an ordinary one-way vacuum into a dual-purpose blower. This will allow you to multi-task with your vacuum and prevent you from having to buy multiple different tools and machines to accomplish these goals. Read on to learn the steps for successfully rigging your vacuum into a blower. 

Let's learn how to reverse vacuum cleaner airflow (and turn it into a blower)?

How to Reverse Your Vacuum Cleaner's Airflow:

1. Determine What Kind of Vacuum You Have

Before you learn how to reverse vacuum cleaner airflow, you need to know what type of vacuum you have.

Turning your vacuum into a blower is a great option if you do not want to spare the expense for an actual blower and if you only need to use pressurized air for small tasks around the home.

There are many different types of vacuums, and the best types to reverse engineer into blowers are bag vacuums and canister vacuums. 

Modern household vacuums have moved away from using bags and feature plastic cylinders fitted with filters. An older bag-style vacuum is the easiest thing to use for a makeshift blower. However, bag vacuums, plastic canister-style vacuums, and shop vacs can all be turned into blowers without much trouble. 

2. Prepare the Proper Equipment

Though the process of transforming your vacuum into a blower is fairly simple, there are some things you should have ready beforehand. Make sure you have all of the tools you will need before taking apart your vacuum so as to avoid any unnecessary damage. Before you get started, you will need the following items: 

  • Your vacuum’s user manual
  • An appropriate screwdriver
  • Duct tape

The most important thing to have on hand is your vacuum’s user manual. If you cannot find your paper copy, most manuals can be found online. Read the instructions on dismantling your vacuum before you begin. This will help familiarize you with the location of certain parts, as each vacuum has a unique build.

3. Use All Safety Precautions

Always unplug your vacuum cleaner before dismantling it in order to prevent electrocution. This can also prevent you from accidentally turning on your vacuum while you are working on it and blowing dust all over the place. Also, pay special attention not to break pieces since most vacuums include several small parts. 

If you need to locate airflow, do this before dismantling your vacuum. Since you may use your blower outside, make sure your cord is well away from water to prevent electrocution or short-circuiting. Always be aware of where the cord is located. Do not nick or cut your power cord while disassembling your vacuum. 

4. Turn Your Bag Vacuum into a Blower

A traditional vacuum that has a material bag attached to a hose, as opposed to a plastic container, will be the easiest vacuum model to transform into a blower. Once you have unplugged your vacuum and have familiarized yourself with its manual and parts, proceed with the following steps:

  • Unzip the vacuum bag lining and remove the interior vacuum bag from where it attaches to the vacuum’s intake hole. 
  • Turn on your vacuum and allow it to blow out as much debris as possible. Consider shaking it a bit to loosen the buildup. 
  • Tightly seal and secure a flexible vacuum tube to the intake hole where you detached the vacuum bag with duct tape.

Use Your Bag Blower to Inflate Something Narrow

You can use your vacuum with its blower function to inflate things if you do not have an air pump. However, if you want to use your vacuum to inflate something that has a narrow air entrance, like an air mattress, you will need to take additional steps to ensure your vacuum hose fits properly.

  • Cut a plastic bottle down the middle and use the half that has the spout and cap.
  • Remove the cap and use duct tape to attach the larger end to that of the flexible vacuum tube. 
  • You can add additional duct tape around the lip of the bottle to create a better seal around the entrance of the item you wish to inflate.

Turn Your Canister Vacuum or Shop-Vac into a Blower

Most households these days are likely to have a modern bagless vacuum which is made up of a plastic cylinder, internal filter and comes with a flexible suction tube. These are useful for carpets and hard floors alike. Shop vacs are also popular for businesses and homes and can be used for heavier messes.

Note that some vacuums and even more shop vacs include a switch that immediately triggers the motor to switch the airflow from vacuuming to blowing. Others will have directions written out in the manual for how to switch the device to a blower. If your vacuum does not have these options, you can still change the airflow. 

Remove the Motor from Your Vacuum

After ensuring that your vacuum is unplugged, the first step is dismantling your canister vacuum to access the motor. You will do this by removing the housing. You will most likely need a screwdriver for this part. Remember to replace the motor in the same way you remove it once you have reversed the airflow. 

  • Every vacuum will be different
  • Read the user manual before proceeding

You will then disconnect the motor from the vacuum by unplugging the connecting wires. You may need to remove the protective foam casing to access this point. The connection point should be obvious and hard to miss as it will be located where the wire lines are broken, typically by a red or black connector. 

Canister Vacuum

The typical vacuum will have two main sections for airflow: the hole at the base of the vacuum that sucks in debris and its opposite end that blows air into the collection bag or container. Similar to the steps taken with bag vacuums, you will need to have a flexible suction tube attached to the hole that blows air out.

For a canister vacuum, follow these steps:

  • Unplug the vacuum.
  • Remove the end of the hose that filters debris into the collection bin. This will usually be secured by a clamp or twisted on securely. 
  • Bring the vacuum outdoors and turn the vacuum back on. Allow it to run for a while to blow out debris. Once cleared of buildup, your vacuum will now function as a blower.

You can use the flexible hose to direct airflow out of the vacuum. Suppose you want to use the blower to inflate something, duct tape a water bottle in the same way described in the directions for an upright bag vacuum. Whenever you want to use your vacuum as a vacuum again, simply replace the nozzle. 

Shop-Vac

Here's a simple video on how to reverse vacuum cleaner airflow for Shop-Vacs:

Shop vacs are usually made with both suction vacuuming and outward blowing in mind because these kidneys of vacuums are designed for use in more industrial settings. There is often no need to have a reverse flow button on these machines. Here are the steps for transforming your shop vac into a blower:

  • Unplug the shop vac.
  • Remove the flexible hose. This is usually done by twisting, unlatching a clamp, or simply pulling straight out. Reference your manual to avoid damage. 
  • Remove the exhaust cap from the opposite end. Again, reference your manual for proper removal if you are unsure.
  • Reinsert the flexible hose into the hole where you have just removed the exhaust cap.

If your shop vac is made with blowing in mind, your suction hose will have a latch where it attaches to either end. This will allow it to attach to both the intake and exhaust holes. You may also want to remove the canister or collection bin, as you do not need to take this part with you while using the device as a blower.

You may also like: How to Vacuum Water With a Shop-Vac

Bottom Line

And there you have it, the complete guide on how to reverse vacuum cleaner airflow and possibly turn it into a blower. Remember, before doing anything, you need to determine what type of vacuum cleaner you have. You also need to have the user manual in hand to understand what you need to do.

See also: Vacuum Cleaners

Ryan O'Connor

I write about house cleaning and vacuum cleaners. For me, nothing is more important than a clean environment to ensure both a healthy and happy life.