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Our Resources Job Site Dust Collection: Vacuum vs Dust Collector

Equipment Setting

“My vacuum’s just not cutting it!” We hear this from customers all the time, and believe us, we feel your pain.

Silica dust on your jobsite is becoming more and more of a concern for the safety of your employees and the owner’s employees. And, although you’re making an effort to eliminate the issue, sometimes it’s just difficult to do. You have the attachments, shrouds and bits to help reduce dust. These are fine when the dust is localized and low volume, but what should I do when its overwhelming my vacuum? The first answer is usually, “Get a bigger vacuum.” However, this isn’t always the right decision. You may need a Dust Collector instead.

Know the Difference Between Vacuums & Dust Collectors

Take a look at the difference between the two. The short explanation is that vacuums operate on low volume/ high pressure. The velocity of the air intake is high. But, the material being collected has to be close to the intake hose. Because the hose is relatively small. It can only move a very limited volume. Vacuums are great for picking up debris due to the lift developed by the motor and many can also be used for wet material. Great for drilling, small area prep, hand grinding or mixing bagged goods in a pail.

If your work is producing large amounts of dust, you might look at a dust collector. In contrast to the vacuum, dust collectors operate on high volume/low pressure. Lots of dust being produced over a larger area means you’ll need to move much more air. Dust collectors typically have larger intake devices like hoods or ducting. This allows you to draw air from a point farther away from the intake device. In other words, you don’t have to have a hose right at the point of dust production like a vacuum. This is the kind of system you’d use if you were preparing a floor for a coating or breaking bags of grout for a machine installation. 

Determining Whether a Vacuum or Dust Collector Will Meet Your Needs

Once you’ve determined the right type of dust collection equipment to use, you’ll have to ensure you have adequate capacity and power to exceed the requirements for each task. Consult the equipment manual for the CFM required to remove the debris and dust for each piece of equipment you’ll be using. The current OSHA document is also a good general source if the manufacturer hasn’t yet published any. That will get you the right equipment based on what you’ll generate.

Next, you’ll have to determine the holding capacity you need considering the task at hand. How many times can you stop to empty the cannister or bags? What power is available in your work area? Can you get the equipment outside of your work area to empty it or will you need a way to empty in the work space? 

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve decided on the collection method and equipment, you’ll need to make sure you can collect the dust and debris. Picking the right adapter or shroud is key to capturing the silica dust in the most effective and efficient way. 

You Don’t Have to Figure It Out Alone

Considering all of these factors and answering the questions should put you on the right track. But, if you have additional questions or want to talk about equipment and accessory options, give us a call.