Should I Use My Vacuum on Construction Dust Clean-Up?

Dear Home-Ec 101,
I just found your site. I could totally read it all day! I was not given a lot of training on house keeping and still struggle in my 40s now on how to do things properly.

I was reading your article about cleaning fine dust from construction mess and you said don’t use your regular vacuum. This might sound lazy of me, I do like to cut corners when I can, but will it damage the vacuum to use it for this or just fill up the bag quickly? We just had a couple rooms’ ceilings de-popcornized and we’re doing the rest of the sanding and eventually painting ourselves and it is a big dusty mess. We’ve been using our regular vacuum which seems to be working ok. We have a shop vac but my husband says it’s not very good and I would need to get the fine dust bags.

Signed,
Vacuuming in Vancouver

should I vacuum construction dust

Heather says,

Construction clean up is certainly a pain and you have my sympathy. I’ll be right there with you when the contractor gets started here. (I am a wee bit excited)

When a regular household vacuum cleaner encounters fine dust particles it sucks them up, right along with the bobbie pins and Legos, but certainly not with that one tiny piece of paper. No, you must run over that multiple times, pick it up, look at it, and put it back before the vacuum will work on that.

That is the household truth of random paper scraps.

So yes, your regular vacuum will pick up the fine dust.

The problem occurs after the fine dust is inside your vacuum. If you have a high-end vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter the filter will quickly clog and put strain on the motor. Some dust will manage to pass through the filter and it will find its way into the motors.

Small appliance motors and dust do not get along well. The fine particles will quickly cause excessive wear or clog the motor. If you live in a more rural area it may be very difficult to find a qualified repair person and even in an urban environment the repair may be cost prohibitive.


If you have a cheap-o vacuum that you were planning on getting rid of in the very near future. I guess you could use it, just be aware that some of the dust particles will get spewed back into the air each time you use the vacuum until it goes to that great hall closet in the sky.

How to Clean Home Appliances

Click the picture for more tips!

My advice is still to stick with the fine dust bag in the shop vac.

And, please wear a dust mask while you do the clean-up. Yes, they are very uncomfortable, but your lungs are much more valuable than a small appliance motor and they don’t appreciate the particulates either.

Send your questions to HelpMe@Home-Ec101.com.



1 Comment

  1. Nick on April 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Good post/answer!

    To add to the post, from my personal experience using a plain paper mast for avoiding dust may sometimes not work. Especially if you tend to breath heavy. Most shop vacs do have an option to place an additional filter which stops so much more dust from escaping. Heck.. Dustless Technologies makes one just for stopping 98% of dust from escaping.

    Worth checking out though.

    Again, good article!

    Nick-

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