HEPA Dust Extractor: Filter Cleaning

Reverse Air Flow vs iQ Quickspin

Published on
January 4, 2022 3:48:49 PM PST January 4, 2022 3:48:49 PM PSTth, January 4, 2022 3:48:49 PM PST

What are the best cleaning methods for HEPA dust extractors?

With the recent launch of the iQ426HEPA, iQ’s Cyclonic HEPA Dust Extractor, the entire iQ team had to do an intense deep dive into researching the existing dust extractors on the market today, their features, benefits, and downsides. We’ve learned quite a bit and we’d like to share some of it with you. Here is one thing that is sure to shock many people.

According to Bob Sanchez, iQ West Regional Sales Manager, the number one complaint he receives from contractors about existing dust extractors on the market today, is that the “automated” filter cleaning mechanism does not actually do what it’s supposed to do, which is clean the filter.

Here’s what we found: Most dust extractors on the market today utilize either a reverse air flow cleaning method or a shaker cleaning method. The first is a process that essentially reverses the air flow of the dust extractor intermittently to blow off any dust particles that have been caught by the filter, while the second shakes the filter to release particles.

Reverse Air Flow & the Shaker Method

Typical HEPA filter using Shaker Clean method

Unfortunately, in both of these scenarios, this happens while the HEPA dust extractor is still running, which means that shortly after the reverse air flow stops or the dust is shaken off, the vacuum returns to it’s normal operation of sucking air back towards the filter. While some of the heavier dust may fall into dust containers, what do you think will happen to dust particles that have just been removed from the filter’s surface and are now airborne inside the container? You guessed it, once the air flow returns to it’s normal direction or the shaking stops, much of the dust that was pushed or shaken off that filter will get sucked right back onto the filter. Over time, that dust that is continuously being blown out and sucked back in, will continue to accumulate on the filter’s surface, degrading suction power and forcing you to continue buying new filters.

iQ Quickspin Cleaning Method

iQ Quickspin cleaning mechanism.

In contrast, the iQ426HEPA Quickspin cleaning is designed to clean the Durabond filter (stage 3 of the filtration process) once the vacuum is stopped. And because of the cyclonic filtration and the fact that less than 1% of dust ever reaches the iQ Durabond filter, cleaning can be less frequent, ideally at end of shift, while still giving you the manual control to clean it as much as you feel necessary. In addition to this, the Quickspin trap doors ensure that once the vacuum starts up again, any dust that has been shaken off is sealed in the tub, and is not getting sucked back up into the filter. The Quickspin trap doors are a simple concept that make a huge difference.

Trap doors on the iQ426HEPA Dust Extractor

OSHA Table 1 & HEPA Dust Extractors

Another common misconception is that OSHA Table 1 regulations require an automated filter cleaning mechanism. The fact is that, when it comes to using a handheld grinder, one part of OSHA’s table 1 requires a VDCS (Vacuum Dust Collection System) with a “cyclonic pre-separator OR filter-cleaning mechanism”, and nowhere does it require the process to be automated. In that regard, the iQ426HEPA complies with BOTH of these requirements, not just one. Click here to read more about OSHA Table 1 regulations.

While there’s nothing wrong with automating the filter cleaning process, and while a reverse air flow sounds attractive from a marketing standpoint, we felt that both, the reverse air flow method and the filter shaking method were extremely inefficient and more costly to contractors in the long run, because they failed to maintain a clean filter. So we built ours a little differently, we built it with you in mind.