shop vac

Shop Vac: Why It’s Ideal for Home Emergencies

With so many tools and appliances on the market, it may be hard to know which ones are true necessities. Some household tools come with steep price tags, but don’t actually provide much help. Others have very specific uses, and may not be worth the investment. However, some tools are extremely helpful for a variety of situations. A shop vac is an extremely helpful tool. Owning a shop vac can be a benefit in both day-to-day situations and also during household emergencies. I believe, a this tool should definitely be on your ‘must have’ tool list. This article will give you some ideas on when you can use your shop vac around your home. 

What Is a Shop Vac?

A shop vac, which is sometimes referred to a wet-dry vac, is a special kind of vacuum. It has a high-powered motor and suction unit. Shop vacs also use large hoses and a round bucket like canister to hold debris. These big and bulky canisters can sometimes be tricky to maneuver, so many shop vacs have wheels so you can move the vac around easier. They are frequently found on construction sites or woodworking shops for cleanup of large and difficult debris. Although you could use your shop vac for light household cleaning, these powerful tools were designed for heavy duty work. Just because these tools were designed for use around a shop doesn’t mean they can’t be useful around the house. Below are a few instances at home when you might want a shop vac handy.

Cleaning Large and Sharp Debris

Shop vacs have bigger and tougher hoses than your standard household vacuum. This means that when you have a household emergency like broken glass, you don’t have to panic. No more tip-toeing around the perimeter of the accident. You can confidently use your shop vac to clean up the harmful pieces of glass. It doesn’t matter the size of the glass shards the shop vac will easily pick up the biggest pieces, while still cleaning up the tiny sharp shards. So whether its a broken window in your home or car you can clean up the mess safely, like a pro.

Deep Cleaning Your Carpet

One of my favorite uses for your shop vac is to deep clean your carpets. As was mentioned before, shop vacs have a high-powered motor, this means that they have a much great suction than household vacuums. This high-powered suction comes in handy when there are difficult spills or stains on your carpet. It can suck up even the tiniest particles. Meaning when you have a mess that may smell, such as pet feces or vomit, a shop vac will clean it up entirely without leaving behind any odor. You can pour baking soda over the mess and then suck up the clumps, or if you have a wet-dry vac you can suck up the mess as you found it.

Cleaning Small Debris

Another life saving use for a shop vac is its ability to pick up small debris that would typically clog a household vacuum. This would include saw dust, pet hair or beach sand. Unlike most household vacuums, a shop vac usually has a filter that will not clog with the build up of these tiny particles. It also has a much larger canister, which means it doesn’t need to be emptied as frequently as a household vacuum. This means you can clean up the entire troublesome mess before it has a chance to spread to other areas in your home.

Cleaning Up After Water Emergencies

While all those uses might be helpful, the most common household emergency that require a shop vac would be those that involve water. Having a pipe break, a toilet flood, or heavy rains flood your basement are all instances when a shop vac comes in handy. Wet-dry vacs are not pumps, and were not meant to be used as a permanent solution for water removal. However, they are great clean up for water emergencies.They are built so that the entire motor and electrical parts are separate from the canister, making them completely safe to vacuum liquids. There are a few steps that need to be taken in order to use your shop vac as a wet-dry vac.

Step 1: Remove Filter and Bag

If you are cleaning up a small amount of liquid, such as a spilled drink, you probably don’t need to remove the filter. However, if you are cleaning up a large amount of water you will want to remove the filter.  If you have a foam filter instead of a paper filter, you can use it when sucking up water. Check your owners manual to determine if your filter is safe to use with liquid clean up. You should also check if your shop vac has a dry bag in the canister. If your shop vac has a dry bag, you can remove the bag and replace it with a wet bag. If it does not have a bag, simply empty the canister of any debris. This is merely for convenience since debris plus water will turn to mud and will slow down the clean-up process. 

Step 2: Attach Necessary Accessories

Once you have removed filters and bags, you should attach a water removal accessory to the end of the hose. These attachments come with a squeegee on the end. This makes them ideal for removing water from flat surfaces, such as tile or concrete. It also helps to pull the water out from carpet. Even if the carpet and carpet pad have soaked through, the squeegee should be able to help draw out the water. If your shop vac has an output hose you can hook that up as well.

Step 3: Carefully Remove Water

You are now ready to remove the water with your shop vac. Carefully begin removing the water with your shop vac. Pay close attention to how much water is filling your canister. Many shop vacs will have a floater mechanism, that will automatically shut off your vacuum when the canister is too full of water. If your vacuum does not, pay attention to the sound the vacuum makes. If the vacuum begins to raise its pitch, or begins to lose its suction, it is time to empty the canister of water. Running the shop vac when the canister is full beyond capacity will damage the motor. Also, be aware that the more water is in the canister, the heavier it will be to empty.

Step 4: Replace Filters and Clean the Vacuum

If you are finished cleaning up your water emergency, it is time to put your shop vac back together. You should use this time to wash any filters out and replace them if they are getting old or torn. Let the filters completely dry before replacing them in your vacuum. You should also rinse-out the inside of your canister with warm water and mild soap to help prevent the growth of mold or mildew. 

In Conclusion

A shop vac is a very helpful tool to have around the home. Especially in the case of a water emergency. Do not wait until you are in the middle of a flooded basement, to go out and buy a shop vac. You will wish you had one ready to go, when disaster strikes! So whether you are cleaning up flooded water, large chunks of glass, or a terrible big mess, you will be glad you have a shop vac to back you up!  

Amy O'Brien

I am a mother, homeowner, and a DIY kind of gal. Whether it’s backpacking in the mountains or throwing a BBQ in my backyard, I love bringing my family to the great outdoors!

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