Shop Vac for Water Damage

For smaller water damage spills, you don’t always need heavy duty pumps or industrial strength machinery.  Sometimes minor spills can be picked up through the use of a wet / dry vacuum unit, more commonly known as a shop vac.

Water damage shop vacuum image

Shop vacs can help with water damage issues

Shop vacs are considerably more powerful than a regular vacuum cleaner, able to clean up virtually any mess or spill.  Take the time to read the owner’s manual before engaging the unit, in order to become better educated on the various functions and abilities that the shop vac offers.

At the risk of insulting somebody’s intelligence, under no circumstance should you try to use a regular vacuum cleaner to remove water.  All you will end up doing is purchasing a new vacuum cleaner and could even end up electrocuting yourself or at least getting a good shock.  Trust me on this one.

Of course you should make sure that the proper filter is installed, designed for use around water damage, and that you have properly set the unit to the “wet option”.  You’ll also want to take the time to empty the room of any obstacles, furniture, or other loose items, as well as getting things like curtains out of the way.  Some of the larger shop vacs will suck up anything, and you don’t want to see something inadvertently damaged through the use of the unit.

Remember that shop vac units are electric, and will need to be plugged into the wall.  Their cords aren’t usually very long, so you may have to use a drop cord to get the necessary length.  Needless to say, water and electricity do not mix, so you want to take care to keep the cord away from and out of any water you may be working around.  The only part of the unit that should touch the water is the suction hose.

Water removal with shop vac

Remove excess water from small spills with a shop vac

You can move the hose across the affected area, much the same way you would vacuum a floor.  You will be able to hear water being pulled up and into the unit.  Continue to work the affected area until you no longer hear water coming through the unit, and even then, give it a few more sweeps just for good measure.  Keep in mind that the unit may fill to capacity before you are done.  Most models are equipped to shut off automatically when the tank is full.

Once the unit is full, power it down and roll up the cord.  Roll the unit to the nearest sink or toilet, and remove the lid. Pour the contents into the drain, or you can drain it outside if there is no danger of the water leaking back into your home.  Remember that the tank can become heavy and awkward to work with as it fills up. When you purchase a shop vac you should go for one of the largest units available to cut down on the number of trips required while taking into account the fact that you may need to lift it up while it’s full of water.

Once the water has been removed, clean the unit inside and out and dry it properly to prevent bacteria or mold from developing. Stow all components properly and replace the filter. 

Also, remember that once the water has been vacuumed up, your job is not complete.  Just a touch to the affected surfaces will reveal that it is still wet.  You will need to move on to the second step in the process, which involves high velocity fans, dehumidifiers, blowers, and other devices designed to circulate air and facilitate drying.

If the spill is of significant size, a shop vac would take far too long to be effective and a professional grade extraction unit will be required. Call your local Clean Trust certified water damage professionals. Here at PuroClean we use weighted extraction units that our technicians ride on which compress carpet and pad and remove up to 95% of the water from the carpet, pad and sub floor. That’s a huge step in the right direction and can cut down on the amount of drying time required.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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