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Guidelines for Choosing a Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner


Choosing best wet and dry vacuum cleaner is essential for anyone in the construction industry or in the industry of building supplies in Toronto. We know that there’s a lot of mess you are likely to deal with in the construction process. Having a proper wet and dry vacuum cleaner for home will help you to maintain cleanliness and even make the site safer. If you are shopping for wet and dry vacuums, we’re here to provide a few guidelines on what to consider. Remember, construction debris can be heavier and thus requires a strong vacuum to suit the job.

Vacuum Cleaner’s Horsepower

How much HP should a wet/dry vac have? Wet/dry vacuum cleaners fall under three categories:

  • Low (1-4.5 HP)
  • Medium (5-6 HP)
  • High (6+ HP)

Wet/dry vacuum cleaners with a low horsepower are ideal for light cleaning tasks like small spills. Vacuum cleaners with medium horsepower are suitable for both indoor and outdoor cleaning, like garden clean-up and standard workshops. Vacuums with high horsepower are suited for heavy-duty indoor and outdoor cleanings like warehouse cleaning and commercial cleaning for offices. Before you choose the right vacuum cleaner, you should consider the type of cleaning task you need to complete and how frequently you will use the vacuum cleaner.


You can choose the capacity of a wet/dry vacuum cleaner as follows:

  • Small – (2-6 gallons)
  • Medium – (8-14 gallons)
  • Large – (14-18 gallons)

Small wet/dry vacuum cleaners are suitable if you have limited storage space. Small vacuum cleaners tend to be quieter than larger ones. They can handle small cleaning jobs around the house.

The medium wet/dry vacuums are ideal for garage spills, wet basements, and keeping your workshop clean. The medium size is an excellent compromise between decent capacity, good performance and relative portability.

The large wet/dry vacuum cleaners are suitable for commercial and heavy-duty cleaning. Even if these units tend to be heavy and difficult to move, they offer the highest performance capabilities. This is the go-to vacuum for cleaning heavy construction waste.

Consider the Size of Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner You Are Purchasing

If you are wondering ‘Whats a good size for a wet/dry vac?’ you’ll be please to know that you can choose from small, medium and large wet and dry vacuum cleaners available in the market. The benefit of small vacuums is that they are usually very portable. However, they may not be able to perform well in a construction site. Medium wet and dry vacuum cleaners on the other hand may be able to handle heavy debris better than the smaller vacuums and will still be somewhat portable. But if you’re really looking for a powerful suction, consider getting a larger vacuum that will perfectly suit the job. Bear in mind that a larger vacuum will be less portable so moving it around the construction site can be difficult.

Examine the Accessories That Comes with Vacuum Cleaner

Each wet and dry vacuum cleaner will have its unique set of accessories that make your job much easier. For instance, you may want to choose a vacuum that has a utility nozzle. This simple feature allows you to get rid of bulkier objects. Some vacuums also come with a crevice nozzle which is perfectly suited for those hard to reach corners and creases that hide dirt and debris. Another important feature is the squeegee attachment which simply allows you to clean off spills. An ideal vacuum should also have swivel fittings which basically prevents kinks.

Does Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaner Have a Dust Bag?

Most vacuums come with dust bags around the filter which are simply designed to keep the interior of the vacuum cleaner and allows you to switch from the dry to wet cleaning pretty fast. The dust bag also helps to enhance the longevity of the filters. Vacuums that have a dust bags tend to offer a more powerful suction.

How long are the extension wands?

Extension wands can make the vacuum easy to operate. When the wet and dry vacuum cleaner for home has a short extension wand, you can experience back and knee pain trying to reach out to different areas when cleaning. Make sure the vacuum is designed with just the right features to enhance ease of use.

You need to check on other features such as the filters; they should be easy to replace. We recommend vacuums with cartridge filters because they can be easily changed and are not prone to nasty dust leaks. Vacuums with hose locks are actually better because they offer a more secure fit. If you will be using the wet function, make sure the vacuum has a drain spout which makes it easier to empty it by attaching a pump and a hose. More importantly, consider if the vacuum was designed to meet the demanding construction needs.

Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaners Motors

What should you know about wet/dry vacuum motors? Wet/dry vacuum cleaners use one of the two typical motor systems: bypass motor systems and flow-through systems. The bypass motor systems have a separate cooling fan that draws air in and cools the motor. The air that is drawn into the motor creates suction, bypassing the electrical components of the motor. This allows the bypass system to pick up both the wet debris and liquids.

With the flow-through systems, the air drawn through the tank cools the vacuum motor. Since the suction air flows through the motor, these units should only be used for dry debris only. Exposure to liquids and wet debris could short-circuit the vacuum.

Wet/dry vacuum cleaners can be single-stage or two-stage, depending on the number of fans used. The single-stage motors have a single impeller that creates suction pressure at a relatively high airflow volume. These single-stage units are suitable for applications like homes, auto, workshops, and light industrial use. Trying to use the single-stage unit for heavy-duty industrial work could overstretch the unit, causing a malfunction.

The two-stage motors have two impellers that produce a significantly high suction pressure. The two-stage units are ideal for commercial and heavy-duty maintenance applications.

Vacuum Filters

Just like a humidifier or a furnace, a wet/dry vacuum requires a filter for optimal performance when dealing with dry debris. However, for wet applications, most filters will have to be removed. You should check your unit’s manual to understand the specifications. Vacuums use a centrally positioned filter for dry filtration. The filter captures debris and dust. This centrally located filter usually comes with a vacuum but can be removed.

To help improve the filtration, many aftermarket brands and manufacturers offer bags, usually placed inside the vacuum tank. This provides a multiple-level filtration. The bag serves as the primary filter, whereby it captures the large debris. The standard filter then captures the additional dust particles before the air is exhausted. The type of bag ideal for the dry pickups will depend on the size of the debris. Debris can be large, the size of gravel and could also be fine debris like dust.

While the smaller vacuums only offer filter bags as the filtration option, most commercial wet/dry vacuums come with standard multi-level filtration.

There’s no doubt that HEPA filters are effective in capturing dust and fine particles. However, the standard wet/dry vacuum may not be sufficient to use with materials like asbestos, lead, and other hazardous materials. For these applications or hazardous materials, you will need a HEPA-rated vacuum.

How Do Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaners Actually Work?

Most people often wonder how to use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner. The principles behind the working or wet and dry vacuum cleaners are like other vacuums. All vacuum cleaners contain high-speed electric motors connected to a fan with blades, the same as an airplane propeller. As motors/fans turn, they push the air outwards towards the vacuum exhaust. This causes a drop in pressure behind the fan, creating a partial vacuum within the vacuum cleaner. This difference in vacuum pressure creates suction power as the outer air rushes into the vacuum cleaner via an intake port or hose.
A wet vacuuming situation works in the same way. When the motor runs and turns the fans, a pressure drop occurs, creating a suction that pulls the liquid through the hose or the intake. The only difference is that when water or liquid is sucked into the vacuum cleaner, it stays in the reservoir. On the other hand, the aid that is sucked into the vacuum cleaner is pushed out via a vacuum filter through the exhaust.

The motor could malfunction if water gets into it. Therefore, the wet and dry vacuum cleaners are complete with several safety features to prevent water from getting into the motor. The wet and dry vacuum cleaners also have shut-off mechanisms.

Most commercial wet and dry vacuum cleaners have filters to ensure that any debris or dirt picked by the powerful suction is trapped within the vacuum cleaner.

When determining the ideal type of filtration, you should consider where the wet and dry vacuum cleaners will be used.  Suppose you use the vacuum cleaner in places like food processing plants and laboratories where you need to maintain clean air quality. In that case, you should consider using a wet and dry vacuum cleaner that is complete with HEPA filtration.

Are There Different Types of Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaners?

When looking for a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, you will come across a wide range of products. With so many vacuum cleaner brands available, choosing the right one can be daunting or even intimidating. The vacuum cleaners vary in everything, including brands, features, accessories, and nozzles. The vacuum pricing also varies significantly. While some vacuum cleaners cost less than $100, others cost thousands of dollars.
The most important consideration when shopping for a wet/dry vacuum cleaner is how you will be using the cleaner. Every other choice you make will depend on this consideration. For example, if you intend to use a vacuum cleaner for industrial applications, you will need one complete with handles, wheels, and a larger capacity. Some jobs will require you to find a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA rating, especially if you are dealing with hazardous materials or fine particles. Some vacuum cleaners offer the same power and filtration but at lower prices. However, these vacuums may be less reliable and noisier in the long term.