Flushing a running vacuum with water


When I had to cut through the plaster walls to install a boot nook I sucked all the dust up with a ShopVac, which I kept outside. I didn't want the filter to get caked with rock dust, so I ran it without a filter.

But this resulted in dust being deposited on the impeller of the vacuum, and that threw it out of balance, causing extra noise and vibration.


I had taken a ShopVac like this apart before, so I knew that, unlike regular vacuum cleaners, it has a separate fan and air stream to cool the motor. So I figured, it should be possible to flush the running blower with water without getting the motor wet or getting zapped.

So I put the blower unit upside-down in the grass, with a piece of wood to prop up the float ball (which normally blocks the air flow vacuum if it gets too full of water). The switch on the ShopVac is in the on position so that I can start it by plugging it in.


Of course, water and electricity are a dangerous combination. So I took some precautions. The shoes I wore were fairly insulated, and I also wore rubber gloves.


Here is a related video about Experimenting with getting zapped with electricity and water


Surprisingly, this procedure actually worked. The impeller was flushed out and ran quieter afterwards. I didn't get zapped. Didn't even feel a tingle.

There are a lot of people in this world who don't know how to fix or build stuff, and it's probably those people that give unsolicited safety advice on YouTube. So I had a bit of fun with this video!

Those that do stuff tend to be more interested in just getting stuff done, and assess risk on a case by case basis, rather than by repeating some safety mantra.


Looking at it afterwards, the motor itself didn't get wet. So all is well.

So maybe this technique could be useful to you. But if you think it's dangerous, then don't do it. Simple as that. Your concern should be your own safety, not mine.


See also:

Handplane sharpening
for barbarians