There are many reasons to get a wet/dry vacuum, and there are just as many models as there are reasons. When you’re trying to find the best wet dry vacuum cleaner for your needs, it can be frustrating trying to compare all the different features and prices. However, if you narrow down the field based on these main features first, you’ll have a much easier time finding the right wet dry vacuum cleaner for your home.
How Can I Find the Best Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner?
There are a few ways to measure vacuum power, but good quality wet dry vacuum cleaners will have a high suction rating. Contrary to popular belief, this is not necessarily related to horsepower. Think of it this way: if you’re drinking through a straw and there’s something wrong with the straw, it doesn’t matter how hard you suck – you’re not going to get anything. The best wet dry vacuum cleaner will generally have a higher horsepower, but it’s really not as good of a measure as the suction rating. A suction rating of 40″ or less is almost useless, 50″ or more is pretty good, and 60″ will get the job done for sure.
Part of choosing the right wet dry vacuum cleaner for your situation includes taking into account which attachments you’ll need. For example, if you’re going to be using this for power tool exhaust, you won’t need any corner or brush attachments. If you’re going to be using your vacuum cleaner in the home or car, though, make sure that it has everything you need to get the carpets thoroughly clean. A good wet dry vacuum cleaner where there are children or pets should have plenty of attachments that make it easy to get into those tiny places where dirt seems to accumulate.
Selecting a machine based on portability largely depends on how you’ll use it. Keep in mind that even the best wet dry vacuum cleaner can be significantly heavier than the average upright vacuum. Also note that if you’re going to use it to clean up liquid messes, a gallon of liquid seems far heavier than it really is when it’s sloshing around inside a canister. Consider whether you’ll use this vacuum cleaner in one place, or if you’ll need to carry it to different places, and whether any of those places are only accessible via stairs. If you’re looking for portability, a good wet dry vacuum cleaner will have secure places for all of the attachments on board so you don’t have to run around finding them when you need them.
Putting It All Together
Every person who shops for a wet/dry vacuum will have slightly different criteria, so while it’s good to get recommendations from friends and family, you’ll be more satisfied if you do the research yourself. Make a list of the most important features for you, write your budget at the top, and don’t compromise. There are dozens if not hundreds of models, and with a little time, you’ll find the best wet dry vacuum cleaner designed especially for your home.
What Are the Best Available Features of a New Wet Dry Vacuum?
Whether you’re purchasing your first wet dry vacuum cleaner or shopping around for a replacement, you’ll want to take a look at these four can’t-miss features that really highlight the difference between old vacuums and new ones.
Washable HEPA filters
Sawdust is a carcinogen, as are many materials when they’re ground up finely enough to be inhaled, especially stuff lying around a shop. Stripped paint and varnish, preservatives, protective coatings: the last thing you want to do is have that stuff being forced out of your vacuum exhaust, through the air, and into your lungs. The best way to get rid of all this airborne junk is with a washable HEPA filter insert. Note that it doesn’t have to be washable, but it does have to be HEPA. No other filter can capture particles as small, and shop pollutants can be truly microscopic. Not all new machines have this feature, but if you can swing it, definitely do.
Switches with Multiple Settings
This might be the coolest feature on new machines. An old vacuum cleaner has two settings: on and off. But a new vacuum may have an extra setting to clean its own filter. Another popular setting is an auto-start mechanism when it’s being used for power tool exhaust. Simply plug your power tool into the extra outlet on the wet dry vacuum, and when you turn your tool on, the vacuum comes on too. It’s a really convenient way to make sure that you’re practicing maximum shop safety.
This feature makes any water vacuum cleaner twenty times safer. Whether you’re dealing with water or dry debris, bad things can happen if the tank overflows. A tank overflowing with liquid will dump the liquid back all over the floor. A wet dry vacuum filled with something like sawdust is even more dangerous because the more material there is tightly packed into the canister, the greater risk of a fire. If you’re the careless or forgetful type, be sure to look for an automatic shut-off feature that will save you a lot of trouble, and maybe even your life.
Noise diffuser/ muffler
Last but not least, many models today have noise diffusers or mufflers installed or sold separately. That a wet vac sounds something like a jet engine is not news, but people hardly cared about it several years ago. If you plan to use your wet dry vacuum indoors, and you don’t plan to install a muffler, you and everyone around you must wear ear protection, no excuses. But it’s really just easier to get the muffler.
None of these are absolutely necessary, of course, and you may not want any of them depending on your situation. If you decide to get a wet dry vacuum with any of these features, however, you’ll probably be glad you did.
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