There’s been a lot of talk about dust collectors and how they work. If you’ve ever been to cement production factories, steel plants, woodwork facilities, and many other industrial workshops, it’s very likely you’ve seen a dust collector.
Although they come in different sizes and capacities, all dust collectors perform the same function; clean up polluted air by removing particles and dust and moving cleaner air back into the room or environment. But you may wonder how dust collectors are vented.
Can you vent dust collectors outside? Or are they ventless? How does the dust or fume exhaust? How is the dust collector vented? Can you put it in the attic? Where else can it be vented?
There are many questions about how and where to vent a dust collector and we’ll attempt to answer them all for you in this post.
Can I Vent My Dust Collector Outside?
Yes, you certainly can. Venting your dust collector outside is a good way to take care of dust and fume, but there are concerns you need to know about.
First, venting dust outside can pollute the air outside, especially if you’re venting onto a residential area or densely populated place.
Also, if you’re not venting within your own property, you may have some trouble with your neighbor. Another issue to consider is the climate. Venting can result in loss of conditioned air, cool or warm.
If you’re running the dust collector for long hours and venting for really long hours too, you’d be overworking your air conditioner or heater and spending more on energy bills.
However, if you only run the collector for short bursts and your climate is relatively mild, you could get away with venting outside.
Another issue that you need to be wary of is that moving indoor air outside makes it difficult for gas appliances to vent gases upward through their vents. In such cases, gas appliances can exhaust CO instead which can lead to poisoning.
If you do have gas appliances in the same room as your dust collector, the best way to prevent such a problem is to keep the windows open or you can use a filter at the exhaust end of the collector to help ensure clean, recycled air is pulled back into the room.
Another precaution is to make sure there are no flammable materials on the exhaust pipe or around it.
We advise you use a dust collector bag that traps the dust and other fine particles which can eventually be disposed of the right way. A perfectly working cyclone will also help to prevent or, at least, control blowing dust outside.
A good example of a unit with an effective cyclone is the Grizzly Industrial Cyclone Dust Collector.
How To Vent a Dust Collector Outside?
First, it needs to be decided what needs to be vented. Once determined, you need to decide if you want to run ductwork through the ceiling or just put a hole through the wall or an outlet and a vent grille.
If you have neighbors close to your property, you need to be concerned about the kind of mess you’ll be creating by venting the dust outside. In such situations, it’s best to run a duct that connects to a dust collection bag outside.
However, this bag also needs to be properly perforated to ensure airflow and prevent inflation of the bag with air.
The bag would be able to keep all particles, including fine dust while letting the air out. It will also allow clean air to flow back into the environment where dust has been collected.
This requires a lot of expertise, a top-quality dust bag, efficient filtering, and a very good quality dust collector.
One thing you must put into consideration is that the ducting material must be fire-resistant, especially in a woodworking shop or factory. This will help to prevent fire outbreaks or their spread in the case of fire.
Here’s a simple process to follow to vent your dust collector outside:
- For small shop dust collectors, unbox the unit and make sure everything stated on the package is inside the box, including the dust collection bag.
- Remove the grills on the front and side of the unit. You’d need a screwdriver to do so.
- Choose a spot to mount the dust collector on your wall outside the building.
- Get two 2×4 wood pieces and measure according to the holes on the frame base to the wood. Then screw the 2x4s to the location on the wall you’ve chosen.
- Create a hole on the ceiling just above the selected spot and run your hose into the house through the ceiling.
- Mount your dust collector on the 2×4 pieces attached to the wall, ensuring that it is placed accurately.
- Build a wooden frame over the installed unit bracketing it from top to bottom and also on the sides.
- Attach the dust collection bag to the opening facing down and the hose to the opening on the side. Use the strap at the end of the bag to fasten it. Where you attach these components also depends on the type you get.
- Measure the frame appropriately to add a door if needed. Ensure it is a door you can easily open to enable you to access the unit whenever necessary. Cover the other two sides of the frame and the base to keep the unit enclosed. Building the enclosed box will protect your unit from the elements and also reduce noise.
- You can also line the inside of the box you have built with acoustic material if you choose.
- Inside, wrap your duct hose with protective materials and run it through your ceiling, connecting it to the hose already running outside.
- Carry out wiring work through the ceiling as well and connect to an outlet.
You should check out this video on youtube for a visual explanation of how to vent your dust collector outside. You would only be able to get as much suction as the capacity of the unit allows, whether 1 HP, 2 HP, or even more.
If it’s just the dust collection bag or container you’re keeping outside, you need to run a reliable duct through the ceiling outside the building and be sure the cut-out is properly sealed after the duct is inserted.
Larger industrial, heavy-duty units may have to be mounted by suppliers or experts, so you won’t have to bother about those.
Can You Put a Dust Collector in The Attic? What Happens When You Do?
Yes, you can put a dust collector in the attic. First, your attic needs to have a need for dust collection. Second, you need to be sure there are no airflow restrictions as a result of the kind of pipes or hoses that you run.
The diameter of the pipe needs to be large enough if you intend to install a large dust collector, otherwise it won’t work well.
Depending on the space in the attic, be sure that the machine and the pipes are commensurate to ensure proper airflow and efficient dust collection, or you may just be running into trouble with poor air filtration or air bounce back.
System air restriction can also cause a bog down of the impellers. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done, just that you won’t be getting the desired result.
Another concern is that without properly managed ventilation, the unit may be sucking air from other parts of the house and this is worrisome.
Also, ensuring that the unit vents properly or that the dust is properly bagged will help prevent a situation where dust is discharged into other parts of the building. It’s probably best to use a portable unit with a dust bag, such as the Shop Fox Wall Dust Collector.
Now you know that it is possible to vent a dust collector outside. As long as you follow safety recommendations and environmental regulations, you won’t have a problem doing that.
As you have also seen, dust collectors can be used in attics as long as the machine and the pipes are in appropriate sizes and the airflow is sufficient for dust collection.
The size of the dust collector you use is also a factor in determining whether it should be vented inside or outside. A portable room or shop-sized dust collector can have its dust bag attached to it within the room.
However, industrial-size units often have their dust collection bags outside, so venting is done through proper ducting.