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How to upgrade a vacuum cleaner for painters and decorators

Listed under abranet, Blog, cleaning, Equipment, Numatic Posted Oct 02 2011

I was reading a post by Jack Pauhl, where he deconstructed the humble vacuum cleaner and showed how to upgrade a shop vac . These are a couple of the tips I have put into practice to make it even easier to keep a site clean.

Extra long hose

I added a 7m Nuflex hose to the armoury.

As per Jack’s advice, it means the vacuum can be placed in a central point (a corridor for example) giving hassle-free access to several work spaces.

At £50 it isnt a cheap option. Having said that, I could have spent considerably more on a 9m hose or a non-ribbed one.

Let’s see how it works out, maybe longer is better, but so far, it makes a noticeable difference ergonomically when tidying up, and the vacuum is powerful enough to still suck like a good ‘un, even when out of sight. (On multi room jobs, I’m happy to recommend this approach. Otherwise, the hose can be an issue in cramped spaces. Mind of its own, if you know what I mean!)

Exhaust hose

A 2.4m long 38mm hose draped out a window directs serious amounts of hot draughty air out the workspace. This reduces turbulence and heat, good news when you are sanding like a nut. And when vacuuming, the exhaust is heading out the window rather than redistributing the dust ahead of you.

(6 months on, the basic principle still holds, ie a good idea to conduct the hot exhaust air away from the workspace, but we have had a technical issue – the exhaust is so hot that it melts standard hoses at the outlet. We added a 12″ non melting pvc extender from the outlet and attached the hose to that, but you still need loads of gaffer tape and regular repairs to the heat damaged hose.)

A couple of points that may be of help.

I have stuck with one brand
Numatic do a wide range of vacuums and one of the great things I have noticed about sticking with their brand is that the screw-in fittings are the same across models. Therefore, I can swap around the girly 32mm diameter hose from the Henry and use it as an exhaust on the HZQ, or use the beefier 38mm hose, or longer hoses, as I like.

And with a £4 reducer attachment, I can use the extensive range of tools that came with the Henry on the industrial machine, which saves me paying out on duplicate accessories.

I learnt this all by chance, by the way, I had no idea at the time, so maybe Numatic need to explain the versatility of their vacuums a bit better?

Vacuums come in 3 ratings – L, M and H type.

When researching a second vacuum, Adam Cowper-Smith, from Positive Health and Safety pointed me in the direction of Numatic HZQ vacs. It was the start of an interesting journey fueled by geeky vacuum information.

In a nutshell, the basic industrial vacuums are L rated, the better ones with 99.5% filtration are M type, and the 99.95% filtration HZQ vacs, suitable for hazardous materials, are type H.

If you ever come across lead or asbestos, the only vacs rated by the Health and Safety people are H types. From what I learnt from various spec sheets, be careful if working on site with hazardous materials with a Festools machine. Great vacuum extraction units, triple filtration, but they do not have the recognised H-type certification, so you could land in big trouble with the health police, if picking up lead paint dust etc on site with one of those.

Via Blogging Painters, here is some good news for Festools vac owners. They have caught up with the program!

If you have purchased a Festool CT 26, CT 36 or CT 48 dust extractor and it did not include a printed Full Unit HEPA Certification document, Festool will provide you with a new HEPA filter at no cost until March 31st, 2012 and printed certificate. Limit one free HEPA filter per serial number. To claim your free filter, please go to our full unit HEPA certification filter claim page. All units that were shipped from our warehouse on or after October 1st, 2011 include the required HEPA filter and Full Unit HEPA Certification documentation.

Vacuum extraction for power tools

I recently came across a weakness in the design of my favourite dustless sanding system, (Mirka CEROS sander and abranet abrasive) With help and pointers from Painters Pit Stop forum perennial, Aggie, a very smart decorator in Buckinghamshire, I can now say that with a simple modification, you don’t need a particularly powerful vacuum cleaner to enjoy (almost) dustless sanding with a speedy random orbital sander. I have posted about the Evolution of Abranet. Basically, in really chalky circumstances, punch extra holes to align with your sander. It breaks all the rules of Mirka’s net technology thinking, but seems to have advantages with no degradation of abrasive or fine finish.

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7 comments to “How to upgrade a vacuum cleaner for painters and decorators”

  1. acmasterpainter

    [watch out!] How to upgrade vacuum cleaner for painters and decorators – via #twitoaster https://traditionalpainter.com/how-to-upg

  2. 5Bridge

    @acmasterpainter tremendous article!!

  3. JGDecorator

    RT @acmasterpainter: [watch out!] How to upgrade vacuum cleaner for painters and decorators – via #twitoaster https://traditionalpainter.com/how-to-upg

  4. 1pinkladee

    RT @acmasterpainter: [watch out!] How to upgrade vacuum cleaner for painters and decorators – via #twitoaster https://traditionalpainter.com/how-to-upg

  5. acmasterpainter

    Decorators rely on a vacuum for sanding & cleaning. Afer tweeking, this set up works https://traditionalpainter.com/how-to-upg… (picked up ideas from @jackpauhl )

  6. BurtonTDSDerby

    RT @acmasterpainter: Decorators rely on a vacuum for sanding & cleaning. Afer tweeking, this set up works https://traditionalpainter.com/how-to-upg… (picked u …

  7. Chris Haught

    Great post Andy, thanks for the mention! Do you in the UK follow any Lead safe practices?

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