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5 Pitfalls of Selecting a Low-Quality Vacuum for Your Industrial Application

Posted on June 16, 2016

Many people have the misconception that a vacuum is a vacuum — as long as it picks up dirt effectively, you’re good to go. If you’re buying a vacuum for your home, this idea probably won’t lead you too far astray. But, if you’re selecting a vacuum for an industrial setting, the quality of that vacuum makes a huge difference.

Here are five pitfalls of selecting a low-quality vacuum.

Fake HEPA filters

For many applications — like pharmaceutical cleanrooms and food processing facilities — HEPA filters are required for you to be in compliance with current regulations.

HEPA is a government standard that has been in place since 1983. It means that a filter is 99.97% efficient at capturing particles down to and including 0.3 microns. To earn an official HEPA certification, a filter must be individually tested and verified to meet this standard.

But, beware: not all vacuum cleaners labeled HEPA make the grade.

True HEPA filters that have passed their certification are labeled certified HEPA. When you purchase a vacuum cleaner with a certified HEPA filter, you’ll receive a declaration of conformity or you can get one from the vacuum manufacturer. If you buy one of these, you can rest assured that your vacuum will do its job and that you will be in compliance with industry regulations.

Fake HEPA filters come in many disguises. Their labels may say HEPA-like, HEPA-style, near-HEPA, or any number of other things aimed at making you think that they are real HEPA filters. But they aren’t. If you buy one of these, not only will your vacuum not properly filter your air, but you will be in a breach of regulatory compliance.

Contaminant-filled exhaust

Another aspect of filtration that you need to consider happens downstream from the main action of the vacuum.

In a lower-quality, single-stage filtration system, the particles the vacuum collects can be exhausted right back into the air. This is especially dangerous in facilities where combustible or hazardous dust is present. In these high-risk areas, a multi-stage filtration system with a downstream HEPA filter that ensures contaminant-free exhaust is essential for safety.

Motor failure

The motor is the core of the vacuum. For a vacuum to work at peak efficiency, the motor must be protected from the dust and debris that the vacuum picks up.

As well as not keeping contaminants from being released into the air in the form of exhaust, single-stage filtration systems don’t protect dust and debris from reaching the motor. The consequence is that the motor can fail.

A multi-stage filtration system protects the motor from dust and debris. This can extend the life of your vacuum from one year to ten or more, saving you the money associated with repair or replacement.

Static discharge

Static discharge is one of the main causes of combustible dust incidents. During vacuuming, the friction between the dust and the hose can generate static. If the vacuum hose isn’t conductive, a charge will build up, which can ignite the surrounding dust, causing an explosion.

A low-quality vacuum cleaner will not have the antistatic hose, accessories, and components you need to protect your facility against an explosion. A high-quality one designed for your application will.


Finally, as we alluded to earlier, the biggest pitfall of a low-quality vacuum cleaner is that you may not be in compliance with regulatory standards.

Whether it’s OSHA, FSMA (the Food Safety Modernization Act), or cGMP, the costs of non-compliance are substantial. OSHA fines are poised to jump 80%, FSMA gives the FDA increased powers of enforcement, and cGMP non-compliance can result in jail time.

As you can see, there are many pitfalls of using a low-quality vacuum in industrial applications — from the vacuum simply not doing its job to potential fines for non-compliance. Don’t take the risk.

Nilfisk provides high-quality vacuums for all of your industrial cleaning needs. Talk to an expert today.