Discover the Truth: Can All Shop Vacs Tackle Wet and Dry Messes?

All home owners that have a basement or garage should own a Shop Vac as your typical household vacuum isn’t really meant for anything other than the standard carpet use.

While you can use your household vacuum to get the hose in those hard to reach places, it shouldn’t be used to suck up large amounts of sand or to be used with water no matter what. Standard vacuums do not have the safety protocols in place to suck up water to keep the motor from short-circuiting.

If you do own a Shop Vac, are you sure that it is a wet-dry type? Here are a few pieces of information to help guide you when determining if it’s wet-dry and a few facts about using the wet functionality of a Shop Vac.

Is my Shop Vac Wet Dry Capable?

The first thing you need determine is if you have a Shop Vac, a wet-dry vac, or if you just have a normal vacuum. There are a few key differences to understand:

Big shop vacuum cleaner
  • Shop-Vac as a term is often confused as this is actually a brand name. The Shop-Vac company makes wet-dry vacuums so if you have a Shop-Vac branded wet-dry vacuum then you can rest assured that you have one that is capable of picking up both wet and dry materials easily. Often people call their wet-dry vacuum a Shop-Vac even if it’s not the actual Shop Vac brand.
  • wet-dry vacuum is any vacuum that is capable of picking up both dry materials and also can pick up liquids with built-in protection so it does not allow the motor to get damaged. There are many different companies that make these, but the most popular one is the Shop Vac brand.
  • Dry vacuums are designed only to pick up dry materials as they are not capable of warding off the liquids from reaching the motor. These should never be used to pick up water as they also typically have a paper bag to collect the materials and the water will just leak out and make a mess of things.

To determine if your vacuum is wet-dry capable you’ll need to check the box prior to purchasing or read the user manual to verify if it is wet-dry capable.

There are 2 things it needs to be wet-dry capable.

The first is it needs to have a waterproof container to collect the materials in. This container typically detaches from the motor so you can pick it up and dump the liquids out after use.

A wet-dry capable vacuum also comes with protections on the motor which won’t let the liquid reach the motor while vacuuming and it has safety measures to shut down the motor if it gets wet for any reason.

Do I need to remove the filter to vacuum up water?

A Shop Vac always has a filter on it which is extremely useful especially when you’re sucking up lots of dust and dirt. Since the Shop Vac has a very powerful motor it’s sucking a lot of air through the hose and it comes right out the filter.

Without a filter to stop all of the dust particles it would enter the air and cause your eyes to become irritated and possibly get into your lungs causing health issues.

With that said, there are times when a filter isn’t needed. When you’re sucking up water, there’s nothing to filter so typically you’ll want to remove the filter from the Shop Vac

 Each shop vac is different, however, so be sure to check your user manual to determine if you need to remove the filter. Some Shop Vacs have a paper filter and those will have to be removed no matter what when sucking up any liquids.

There are also shop Vacs that need the filter to regulate the speed the motor runs so be sure to always check the manual prior to removing or not.

TOP 3 BEST Shop Vacs

How to suck up water with a Shop Vac?

You can use your Shop Vac and wet-dry vacuum to suck up just about any liquids including water, sods, wine, animal urine, and any other liquid that is not flammable.

Since the shop vac is an electrically powered device it cannot be used for flammable liquids as any small spark could cause it to explode. Be sure to not suck up any gasoline or oil from your garage into it.

To start using your shop vac to suck up liquids start by ensuring the filter is removed. You’ll then want to select the proper hose attachment that will help suck up the water easier.

The standard circular end of the Shop-Vac hose will pick up water but it typically is difficult as it’s not angled to pick up the water. I normally like an angled smaller hose so I can angle it to where the water is.

If you’re picking up large amounts of water be sure to watch the Shop-Vac tank to ensure it doesn’t become full and overflows. While it has safety measures in place to stop working when it’s full, you want to ensure to empty it before it becomes full to avoid any mishaps.

Your wet-dry Shop Vac

As a quick wrap up, all Shop Vacs are wet-dry capable so you can be assured you can use this for any of your wet and dry projects around the house, basement, garage or even outside.

If you’re not using a Shop-Vac branded vacuum, I’d suggest checking the user manual to determine if it is capable of picking up water or not.

When purchasing your Shop Vac, be sure to check the capacity of it to make sure the tank will be large enough for your needs. Some come with only a couple liters, where others may have up to 10-15 liters. This will be important depending on the type of jobs you need it for.

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