What Are the Best Available Features of  a New Wet Dry Vacuum?

Porter Cable 7812 Wet Dry Vacuum CleanerWhether you’re purchasing your first wet dry vacuum cleaner or shopping around for a replacement, you’ll want to take a look at these four can’t-miss features that really highlight the difference between old vacuums and new ones.

1. Washable HEPA filters

Sawdust is a carcinogen, as are many materials when they’re ground up finely enough to be inhaled, especially stuff lying around a shop. Stripped paint and varnish, preservatives, protective coatings: the last thing you want to do is have that stuff being forced out of your vacuum exhaust, through the air, and into your lungs. The best way to get rid of all this airborne junk is with a washable HEPA filter insert. Note that it doesn’t have to be washable, but it does have to be HEPA. No other filter can capture particles as small, and shop pollutants can be truly microscopic. Not all new machines have this feature, but if you can swing it, definitely do.

2. Switches with Multiple Settings

This might be the coolest feature on new machines. An old vacuum cleaner has two settings: on and off. But a new vacuum may have an extra setting to clean its own filter. Another popular setting is an auto-start mechanism when it’s being used for power tool exhaust. Simply plug your power tool into the extra outlet on the wet dry vacuum, and when you turn your tool on, the vacuum comes on too. It’s a really convenient way to make sure that you’re practicing maximum shop safety.

3. Auto Shut-Off

This feature makes any water vacuum cleaner twenty times safer. Whether you’re dealing with water or dry debris, bad things can happen if the tank overflows. A tank overflowing with liquid will dump the liquid back all over the floor. A wet dry vacuum filled with something like sawdust is even more dangerous because the more material there is tightly packed into the canister, the greater risk of a fire. If you’re the careless or forgetful type, be sure to look for an automatic shut-off feature that will save you a lot of trouble, and maybe even your life.

4. Noise diffuser/ muffler

Last but not least, many models today have noise diffusers or mufflers installed or sold separately. That a wet vac sounds something like a jet engine is not news, but people hardly cared about it several years ago. If you plan to use your wet dry vacuum indoors, and you don’t plan to install a muffler, you and everyone around you must wear ear protection, no excuses. But it’s really just easier to get the muffler.

None of these are absolutely necessary, of course, and you may not want any of them depending on your situation. If you decide to get a wet dry vacuum with any of these features, however, you’ll probably be glad you did.