Wet/Dry Shop Vac

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Mar 8, 2012
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Well came home from a long weekend to find that the water line to my ice maker broke off at the filter and flooded a portion of my basement. Ran to my neighbor and borrowed his wet/dry shop vac...what a life saver! I am now in the market for a wet/dry shop vac, and recommendations? Don't need anything big, it just seems like a handy tool to have around the house especially now that we are going to be redoing part of my basement that got flooded.
 
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They pop up all the time for $30 around black friday, if you can wait that long, eg if your neighbor will let you keep it for a couple weeks to finish cleanup. In fact since so many helpful family members give others new wet dry vacs without knowing they already own said vacs you can find the things at yard sales & pawn shops for even cheaper.
 
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When my water heater went out, i was lucky i had a wet/dry shop vac out in the garage to help pull water out. it was just a cheap walmart one gallon vac, i liked how it worked so well that i bought another one and keep in the house-bought it on sale for 20 bucks and so far have not had to use it, but i thought better to have another one on stand by just in case.
 
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The attachments ( and hose) are usually the weak spots, but I like to have a dust bag and post filter option for "heavy" indoor house cleaning. I have something I got at Lowes and I don't even know whet it is - I tend to use a big string mop and industrial bucket for spill under 5 gallons:) Just don't go too big - water is heavy smile
 
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I have one of the medium-sized Shop Vac models. I think it's 6 gallon; the current version of my model sells for 50 bucks at Lowe's. I have to say, it's been a great little vacuum, and I continue to use it all the time. I use a bag inside (for dry use) and I also use the pleated paper filter. Take the bag and filter out for wet use. Works like a champ.
 
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I have that Rigid 14ga model shown in the linked thread. I like it a lot. When I bought it at the garage sale, it had no filter nor hose. Bought the gore-tex filter at HD, which works wet or dry and will vac up sheet-rock dust indoors without exhausting it all over your house. For a hose, I use 2-1/2" dust collector hose, you can buy at WoodCraft. I already had 3 or 4 sections so no worries there. WC also sells floor sweeps, right-angle vac brushes, couplers to connect multiple hose sections together....and at MUCH better prices than HD. Plus WC regularly has sales to boot! Finally, the Rigid has a water drain in the bottom. Makes it very easy to drain it instead of lifting the body full of dirty water. This also makes it very easy to clean: After the junk has drained, spray it out with a hose, let the clean water drain, put the cap inside and leave it in the Sun to dry (with the motor housing off of course...). You can also easily spot-clean carpet with a shop vac + hot water!
 
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One year for my birthday, Dad bought me a Shop-vac brand 14 gallon Wet/Dry unit. It also came with a hand-held 1 gallon unit for free. Honestly, I use the 1 gallon unit more than than I do the 14 gallon one. But there are times that the big one has to come out, as there's no substitute for it.
 
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First, realize all Horsepower ratings above 1.5HP are pure marketing fiction. 110V pwer limits the horsepower. Features and capacity are all that matters. Second, realize there are 3 modes for Shop Vacs and their clones: water pickup, standard vacuuming, and drywall dust (or other very fine dust). In drywall mode you have a large bag that lines the Vac. You can use it for standard vacuuming, but you're making it more expensive. In water mode, you remove the filter (and bag if equipped) altogether. Some models have a built-in pump and you can attach a garden hose. For tackling serious flooding, nothing beats this arrangement. Third, most of these things are noisy. Make sure you get a noise level you can live with. If you really want "quiet", you can get a German model, and pay the price.
 
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I had a drywall guy to redo the walls and ceilings in a rental house I own a few years ago. It took him a week and he was using a Ridgid shop vac that was clearly used and abused. He had used it for years with never a problem, so I bought a Ridgid at HD and threw my old troublesome Shop Vac in the trash. When I vacuum my work bench I have to be sure there are no bolts, nuts, hammers or small children within a foot of the nozzle or they're history.
 
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Wichita Falls, TX
I have bought two 9-gal Ridgid vacs in the last 13 years. Lost the first one in a divorce so I bought another. For me it's perfect. If you vacuum a lot of water you may want a bigger size, but 9 gallons is plenty for dry pickup. The only problem with these vacuums is the hose and nozzle that come with it. My first Ridgid came with a 2.5" hose. The newer ones come with a 1-7/8" hose. I ended up buying an adapter and a 2.5" hose to use with my old nozzles. Alternatively I could have bought new nozzles to fit the smaller hose. The included white filter is pretty useless for dust. The blue filters are expensive but can be used for really fine dust from drywall sanding or fireplace ashes. A neat trick I learned from a professional detailer is to use the vac in "wet" mode (no filter) when using outside to clean your car interior. Just put a couple inches of water in the bottom of the reservoir before you start vacuuming. Some fine dust will escape through the exhaust, but most debris will end up in the water. The good part is you get more suction because you don't have a filter restricting the air flow.
 
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