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Vacuum cleaner for the clay studio, yes or no?


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I've heard that mopping is the best way to clean a studio, but what about a vacuum cleaner? I was told to vacuum out my kiln occasionally. I was wondering about the various models out there, wet/dry vacuums, heap filters, etc.  Do any of you use a vacuum, and what type?  Is it a terrible, dangerous idea?

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Hepa  only and for production central vac exhausted to outdoors which can also be fitted with hepa discharge.

Simple rule:  Mop never sweep, vacuum to remove dust or catch dust as it gets produced as close to where it gets produced as possible.

If the vacuum is not hepa rated it can broadcast dust throughout the entire studio.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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I vacuum my studio once a year, during my big studio cleaning week. I use a vacuum with a Hepa filter bag, and wear a respirator while I’m vacuuming. Even if the bag isn’t full, I throw it away when I'm done, Then I leave the studio and don’t come back for at least 24 hours. 

I vacuum the floor and every horizontal surface, including the tops of the radiator pipes that run across the ceiling. There will be a fine layer of dust on everything. Without a vacuum I would not get things as dust free. After vacuuming I will wet mop the floor. The floor ends up much cleaner compared to not vacuuming first, because all the clay dust does not clog up the mop water. 

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5 hours ago, GEP said:

I vacuum my studio once a year, during my big studio cleaning week. I use a vacuum with a Hepa filter bag, and wear a respirator while I’m vacuuming. Even if the bag isn’t full, I throw it away when I'm done, Then I leave the studio and don’t come back for at least 24 hours. 

I vacuum the floor and every horizontal surface, including the tops of the radiator pipes that run across the ceiling. There will be a fine layer of dust on everything. Without a vacuum I would not get things as dust free. After vacuuming I will wet mop the floor. The floor ends up much cleaner compared to not vacuuming first, because all the clay dust does not clog up the mop water. 

Wow, that's impressive. I'm definitely going to start doing that. What type/brand of vacuum do you use? I need to buy a new one - the one I'm using is a dinky, old handheld type that spews everything out its rear end.

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50 minutes ago, Kakes said:

Wow, that's impressive. I'm definitely going to start doing that. What type/brand of vacuum do you use? I need to buy a new one - the one I'm using is a dinky, old handheld type that spews everything out its rear end.

I have a Miele vacuum, and use their bags and filters, 

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Not to suggest but I think we just grabbed a Rigid brand (Home depot) shop vac with a hepa filter kit for our kilns at the studio. We anticipate that we will install a much larger central system with six or seven stations distributed throughout so this will not be necessary at some point. There are a bunch of brands out there though for sure. Maybe a search on Amazon gets you more value.

 

Edited by Bill Kielb
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Open windows and/or doors on a windy day, running fans - also stir up dust, which be bad. I see dust concerned potters running fans full blast to dry greenware - in the studio! What?

If there will be wind - as in, I'm opening the rollup door - might as well put on the respirator, vacuum, mop, then open the doors and windows, come back after a while. 

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  • 5 months later...

I'm using a Shark vacuum cleaner in my studio and vacuum my studio once 2 months. This is so versatile and it really picks all the dust. The most important thing is that it has a HEPA filter. I've read many reviews on vacuum cleaners with HEPA and this one seemed to me the best for my studio. I'm not disappointed, it does its' work very well and it's easy to clean (it takes 2-3 minutes). Fully justifies the money spent on it.

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it depends?

I do run our cordless stick vac in the studio - it doesn't blow dust around as much as the shop vac, works well, and filters well (hepa exhaust, yep) - to pick up food crumbs, dirt I just tracked in, etc. That said, I run a wet mop over the floor to keep clay under control, so I'm vacuuming between work sessions  stuff off a clean floor, not clay, as I'm really trying to limit any dry clay to workpieces and scrap bin, particularly the floor, for the walking on stirs the dust up. I run a wet mop after every clay session. 

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I thought I'd report back about what I ended up with.  After much research, I bought a Nilfisk Aero 21-01 PC HEPA vacuum which cost about $350 directly from Nilfisk. They sell through Amazon too. This was the most reasonably priced of the vacuums that I felt like I could trust to not blow silica dust back all over my studio - they have lots of documentation on this. One thing I found is that there are a lot of vacuums labeled HEPA, but that in no way guarantees safety from dust. Even though I do mop every day, I really needed a vacuum for cleaning (like vacuuming out the kiln occasionally).

There are a couple of quirks with this model: there is no cord storage, it doesn't come with a brush attachment (I ordered one from Nilfisk for a few dollars), and the hose is super long which is kind of a pain for maneuvering around tight areas but some people might like that you don't have to move the canister around much. For a bit extra, you can get the model that hooks up with power tools - I wish I'd gotten that one. Oh well.

 

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1 hour ago, Kakes said:

I thought I'd report back about what I ended up with.  After much research, I bought a Nilfisk Aero 21-01 PC HEPA vacuum which cost about $350 directly from Nilfisk. They sell through Amazon too. This was the most reasonably priced of the vacuums that I felt like I could trust to not blow silica dust back all over my studio - they have lots of documentation on this. One thing I found is that there are a lot of vacuums labeled HEPA, but that in no way guarantees safety from dust. Even though I do mop every day, I really needed a vacuum for cleaning (like vacuuming out the kiln occasionally).

There are a couple of quirks with this model: there is no cord storage, it doesn't come with a brush attachment (I ordered one from Nilfisk for a few dollars), and the hose is super long which is kind of a pain for maneuvering around tight areas but some people might like that you don't have to move the canister around much. For a bit extra, you can get the model that hooks up with power tools - I wish I'd gotten that one. Oh well.

 

The long hose will be nice, the reason you shouldn't use a vacuum in the studio isn't because of the HEPA filtration or whatever, it's because the air from the exhaust stirs up silica dust thats elsewhere in the studio.  So since the hose is long you can put the vacuum outside of the studio and that way it won't be kicking up dust

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4 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

The long hose will be nice, the reason you shouldn't use a vacuum in the studio isn't because of the HEPA filtration or whatever, it's because the air from the exhaust stirs up silica dust thats elsewhere in the studio.  So since the hose is long you can put the vacuum outside of the studio and that way it won't be kicking up dust

The Nilfisk is completely sealed, and I didn't notice any exhaust, but that doesn't seem possible, now that you mention it. I'll check next time I'm in the studio..

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hey congrats on the buy, sounds like a nice vac.

If you are still worried about the dust you can add a dust separator such as a dust deputy or Rockler dust right. I bought the home depot one (dust stopper). Most are under a $100 and since you have a long hose you can probably just set the vac centrally and the dust separator next to it and connect the hose to the dust separator and it to the vac.  on mine everything is 2 1/2" so didn't need any extra pieces. That will eliminate almost all of the dust even getting to the vac and thus pretty much eliminate the issue since there is nothing coming into the vac to speak of and the vac itself can be positioned where the exhaust air is not stirring anything up.

Edit:

Not sure if my approach is needed as many potters work in studios for years and years without having health issues from clay dust. I have been getting an education on this stuff because I am trying to completely eliminate plaster dust I create cutting molds and the dust we generate from clay in the studio since we are in there a lot of hours these days and its a small 600 foot space. The plaster dust is a danger to our pottery and the clay dust to us. The HEPA filters on shop vacs are better than nothing but extreme dust with shop vacs has some real limitations.  You also need to make sure they are changed frequently.

The closest discussion I could find for plaster/silica was drywall and apparently many of the HEPA filters found in common shop vacs will handle fine dust like this poorly.  Shop vacs will generally exhaust dust it can't process so the finer stuff may still just exhust back into the air and the vac will also will stir up dust with the exhaust air as its moved around the studio (Liam brought this up above) so using one as a dust collection system has some limitations to consider. Also the CFM (sucking power) of many of them is not enough to move fine dust. You want to try to get above 150 CFM and closer to 175 if you can. That is usually a pretty big shop Vac.

I want to completely eliminate any plaster dust I create and I also want to clean clay dust up without blowing it all over the place as I move around so the dust separator is where I landed. On Amazon you can buy longer hoses for pretty cheap (2 1/2 inch ones are common) and as I said you can then leave the setup sitting in one spot. The dust separators can also be on wheels easily so it and the shop vac can be moved around a bit to cover the whole studio as you vacuum and mop.

Just a though but I must admit I do really like being in my studio more with the layer of dust eliminated.

 

Edited by Stephen
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