Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Lesson From My Shop Vac

As I was working my way through the workshop cleanup I used my shop vac a lot of the time. It is fantastic for getting at that fine dust that the machines especially kick up. However, I noticed that I was getting less and less suction from it and the motor was obviously working harder with fewer results. I opened up the machine.

Inside I found that the filter was a disaster. Shop vacs like mine and the vast majority of them out there in the real world are wet/dry machines. You can suck up dry dust or wet sludge with them and more than once they have been used to simply pick up puddles of water from the floor. So the interior environment tends to be damp.

My machine like most has a foam filter around the little cage inside around the motor. The filter was so packed with fine dust caked to it that was preventing air from flowing and the motor to work so hard it was in danger of overheating.

Enter your lungs. When you breathe in you pull in that fine dust just like your shop vac. The inside of your lungs is damp just like your shop vac. Fine dust cakes to the lining of your lungs just as it does to the foam filter. The more it cakes the harder it is for your lungs and therefore your heart to work. this is decidedly unhealthy.

I took the filter and washed it and dried it and reinstalled it. This is hard (I hesitate to say impossible with medicine these days) to do with a set of lungs. The better idea is to prevent the cake in the first place. Get a good cartridge mask and use it. Replace the air filters at reasonable intervals. Take care of your lungs, you only get one set and turning wood is a lot more fun if you can breathe.

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