If you're working around your home or out in the garage, spills, dirt, dust and debris can be a hazard to you, children and pets. A shop vacuum, or a wet/dry vac, is a homeowner’s constant companion to clean up these messes. The best shop vac is multi-functional, as it comes with an assortment of attachments, nozzles and hoses. It can go from vacuuming out your car to cleaning up pet hair. Change a hose and a nozzle, and the wet/dry vac can even suck up water from a flooded basement.
Because the shop vac has so many uses, there are so many different kinds that you can purchase. Like any appliance or tool for your home, you need to assess how you will use the shop vacuum. Will its main purpose be to vacuum out your car or clean up after your pets? Or do you have a large workshop and embark on a lot of do-it-yourself projects? These questions and more can be addressed by focusing on three main points during your decision process:
Capacity & Power
You never plan on your basement flooding or the sheer amount of dust and debris any home-improvement project can create, so it is difficult to truly decide the capacity and horsepower the shop vac should have.
A shop vac that is 14 to 18 gallons and has horsepower of 6 or greater is considered as heavy duty. One that is 8 to 14 gallons with 5 to 6 horsepower is medium duty and a garage vacuum 2 to 6 gallons with 1 to 4.5 horsepower is light duty.
If you purchased a car vacuum cleaner several years ago that hadn’t been specifically engineered for a quieter operation, then your neighbors knew when you turned on your shop vac. In fact, those living three neighborhoods away knew. Now, the majority of wet/dry vacs have been redesigned to have a lower sound level.
Although capacity and power are key players in the decision process, the filter should not be overlooked. Pay close attention to the number of stages the filter system has. The more the better. If you have asthma or allergies, go with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which will collect even more gunk to keep you healthy.
Ease of Use
Portability and storage of your shop vacuum are two issues that you really should think about. Again, ask yourself what you will be using the vacuum for. If you will be using it around your house, think of where you will store it and look at how much it weighs. Will you be able to move it from room to room? Look for a unit that has a handle so that you can easily carry it. A heavy-duty shop vac will definitely take up some space in your garage. Do you have that space? There are a few garage vacuums that have wall-mount options, but the majority do not.
Big or small, a mess is a mess. Whether you're dealing with dirt, debris, water and more, a shop vacuum is there to clean up that mess. Choose the right one that fits your needs and your space.