Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Underfloor Vacuum

 As a fun afternoon project I decided to try turning an old retired vacuum into an underfloor vacuum system. The idea is that when I'm dust mopping in the dining room and kitchen, rather than picking up with a dust pan, I can sweep it into a vacuum intake on the floor. This probably is not any easier than using a dust pan, but it's more fun :)

Also, I figured that rather than using the regular vacuum bag, I would experiment with using a vortex bucket to collect some of the trash, rather than filling up the disposable vacuum cleaner filter bags. I have no idea what it takes to make that work, but what the heck, I'll take a stab at it. I've been thinking a dust collection system might be a good project for the workshop, and if a swirly bucket like this works, it would be easier to dump than a shop vac.

I started with a Gamma Seal bucket lid. This is a fantastic product for anyone who reuses 5 gallon buckets. It's a ring that seals tightly onto the bucket better than a regular lid, but the entire center is threaded so it's easy to unscrew it to get to the contents. I figured I'd fix the lid to the ceiling, run the hoses in through the central part, and then when I need to remove the bucket part, I can just unscrew it and leave the lid and everything attached to the ceiling.

The inlet has to be tangent-ish to spin the air, with the outlet in the center, so that hopefully the heavier particles will fall to the bottom before the air exits and goes to the vacuum. I cut out a pathway through the lid for some PVC tubing.

However, I couldn't have the end of the pipe sticking up where it would run into the ceiling, or pinch the hose, so I used the table saw to make it more flexable:

I bent it to the right shape and fixed it in place with some aluminum duct-sealing tape. Most of the lid is held together with this tape. If it all works like it's supposed to I might epoxy it down at some point. Until then the tape will be fine.

To mount the lid I cut a 2x4 to go between the floor joists and drilled a hole for the outlet.

The Gamma lid ring goes on the bucket. Takes a hammer.Not looking forward to taking that thing off again.

The assembled lid with hoses goes on the ceiling. The inlet hose goes through a hole in the ceiling and comes out underneath the front of the dishwasher. For another project I'll make a sheetmetal collection hood with an inlet about half an inch tall and 10 inches wide this will poke out just under the kickplate at the base of the dishwasher.

Finally, the vacuum cleaner. I don't know if this is going to work, so I'm just hanging it with plumbers tape. That should avoid coupling too much noise to the floor.

Obviously I still need a way to turn on the vacuum, which is in the basement, when I'm sweeping in the kitchen. So, X10 appliance module to the rescue. I have a number of wireless X10 controllers that I can use to switch the vacuum from the kitchen. So far so good.
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