I usually see with a standard shop vacuum, when cared for diligently, generally serves its purpose for around 3 to 5 years.
However, I've seen some units impressively outlive that estimate, stretching well beyond five years, largely dictated by their frequency of use and the nature of debris they're faced with.
Drawing from personal anecdotes, if your shop vacuum’s main role is a monthly car cleaning, you’re likely to see it go the distance. But, on the flip side, subjecting it to daily heavy-duty tasks on a construction site might see it wear out considerably faster.
If you need a shop vacuum that’s built to last, you’ll want to invest in a commercial-grade shop vacuum. These vacuums are designed for heavy use and can last for years (if not a decade) with proper care. You can also get industrial vacuum cleaners that are wet/dry vacs, here is one example of an industrial vacuum cleaner*.
Of course, even the best shop vacuums will eventually need to be replaced. But if you follow these tips, you can extend the life of your vacuum and get the most bang for your buck.
How To Extend The Life Of Your Shop Vacuum
There are a few simple things you can do to extend the life of your shop vacuum.
First, make sure you’re using the right extension cord for your vacuum.
The wire gauge should be 12 or 14 depending on the length of the cord. If you’re using a lower gauge, the vacuum cleaner won’t get enough power to it and the cord can get hot or even start a fire.
So if you’re in doubt, go with the 12 gauge extension cord* and AVOID 16 or higher.
Second, empty the debris tank after each use.
Allowing debris to sit in the tank for too long can damage the vacuum and make it harder to clean up later. Some of the gunk you suck up can dry like concrete and be hard to remove and even stink up the shop vacuum, which sticks up your car and home.
Finally, take the time to clean your shop vacuum regularly.
This includes cleaning the filter, hoses, and attachments. A little bit of preventative maintenance will go a long way in keeping your vacuum running like new.
Common Reasons Shop Vacs Stop Working
While shop vacs are built to last, there are a few common reasons why they might stop working.
One of the most common reasons I see is because the filter is clogged. If the filter gets too full of debris, it can restrict the airflow and cause the vacuum to overheat. So be sure to check the filter regularly and clean it as needed. It may not be the filter, but something is blocking the filter, like having too much water in the dustbin or debris is wrapped around the filter.
Another common issue I run into is a blockage in the hose. This can happen if you try to suck up something that’s too big or if debris gets caught in the hose. Again, this can restrict the airflow and cause the vacuum to overheat. So be sure to check the hose regularly for any blockages. Also, check them for damages, as any holes in the hoses will have them lose their effectiveness.
Finally, a common issue with shop vacs is that they simply wear out over time. The motors in these vacuums are powerful and work hard, so it’s not uncommon for them to eventually give out. If your shop vacuum is more than five years old, it might be time for an upgrade.
Repairing Shop Vacuum
If your shop vacuum has stopped working, you might be wondering if it can be repaired?
In some cases, it’ll be possible to repair the shop vac yourself. But in other cases, it might be more cost-effective to replace the vacuum.
If your shop vacuum is under warranty, you should check with the manufacturer to see if they offer repairs or replacements.
Otherwise, you can take it to a local repair shop and see if they’re able to fix it.
Keep in mind that the cost of repairs might be more than the cost of a new vacuum, so it’s important to weigh your options before deciding.
If you decide to repair your shop vacuum yourself, be sure to check online for any recall information. Some models of shop vacuums have been recalled due to safety issues, so it’s important to make sure yours isn’t one of them.