How to Vacuum Water With a Wet-Dry Vac

By Gladys K. Connelly Updated December 20, 2020

Pick up liquid spills with a shop vac

How to Vacuum Water With a Wet-Dry Vac

Wet dry vacuums are handy equipment for cleaning up messes of all sorts and sizes around the house. Along with cleaning dust, debris, and pet hair, these vacuums can also suck up liquid spills.

Whether the mess is due to a broken pipe or your kid spilled the milk, a shop vac can come to the rescue. Modern shop vacs are equipped to handle massive spills with ultimate ease.

Since wet dry vacs are more commonly used in industrial settings, most people aren’t aware of its domestic usage. Therefore, I will guide you on using a wet-dry vacuum for cleaning up anything from coffee spills to puddles of water.

Table of Contents

What You’ll Need

Here’s what you need to clean up a liquid spill:

Step by Step Instructions

Take your vacuum to the site of the spill and follow the instructions given below. Keep kids and pets away from the area while you’re working.

1.Remove the Air Filter

Firstly, take the top off the wet dry vac and remove the air filter. You’ll find a knob at the bottom of the shaft. Rotate it in the direction where it loosens up. Keep the filter in a safe and dry place.

Removing the filter is crucial for larger spills because a wet filter attracts mildew. However, if you’re cleaning a small spill, such as coffee or milk, there’s no need to remove the filter.

You’ll notice a moving part inside the shaft, which will ensure that the tank does not fill over its capacity. As you start sucking water, it will accumulate inside the tank.

When it reaches the maximum limit, this moving component will block off the vacuum, preventing the water from exceeding the tank’s capacity.

2.Empty the Vacuum

Then, you need to empty the tank to make space for the liquid you’ll be cleaning. Some shop vacs have separate tanks for dry and wet spells, while others use one collection tank.
If your wet dry vac has a dust bag, remove it before cleaning a liquid spill.

3.Attach the Hose

Attach the hose to the vacuum cleaner and fix the water-removal tool to it. Normally, this accessory comes with a squeegee at its end to suck up water from carpets and other flat surfaces.

4.Attach the Pump (Optional)

You can also attach a pump to the shop vac to remove water from the tank. These pumps are sold separately, and you can choose one compatible with your particular wet dry vac model.

Insert the suction pump at the bottom of the shop vac and attach the hose to it. I’d suggest keeping the other end of the hose in the garden to let the water flow into the plants.

Alternatively, you can place the hose in the bathroom or kitchen sink to drain the water.

After vacuuming, turn on the switch. The water collected in the vac’s tank will be pumped through the hose.

5.Start Vacuuming

Now, turn on the vac and start vacuuming. When you hear a pitched sound, it indicates that the vac’s airflow has been cut off automatically.

As I’ve mentioned above, modern vacs have a floating or rotating component – mostly a ball mechanism – that blocks airflow when the tank has reached its maximum capacity.

When you hear this sound, stop sucking up water and turn off the vac.

6.Empty the Tank

Before emptying the tank, unplug the vac. Keep in mind that the tank may be heavy, depending on the amount of water you’ve cleaned. Be careful not to hurt yourself while emptying the tank.

7.Clean the Tank

Make a solution with warm water and dish soap to clean the tank. Wash the inside of your shop vac thoroughly, removing any grime or water stains.

Dry the inside with a soft cloth. If there’s still water remaining, repeat the steps. Otherwise, place the filter back into the shop vacuum.

Tips and Warnings

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  • Do not keep picking up water after you hear a high-pitched sound from the shop vac. Doing so can result in damage to the motor.
  • Do not put the filter back in while the tank is wet. A wet filter attracts mildew, which is detrimental to your shop vac’s longevity.
  • To keep wet debris from damaging the motor, you can buy a foam sleeve that integrates with your shop vac. Use a paper filter bag with the sleeve for effective wet cleaning.

Final Words

How many of you have a shop vac sitting in the basement that you’ve never used because you were intimidated by its design? Well, I certainly did, until I took the plunge and realized what a blessing this machine was for household cleaning.

Now, it’s time for you to use a shop vac and tell me:

Let me know below.

About the Author

Gladys K. Connelly

As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.

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