Introduction: PVC Garage Central Vacuum System

For the longest time I wanted a central vacuum system in my garage. I build and tinker a lot in my garage. The one thing I hate is dragging the vacuum hose all over. So I finally decided to take the time and run some pipe in my garage.

Warning!
Air and wood particles moving through the dust collection system quickly build up static electricity charges in any non-conductive hose or piping (hose or piping not made of metal). When this static buildup discharges, it could lightly shock the operator or even ignite the flammable wood dust particles inside the piping. If the sawdust burns fast enough, you have an explosion.

If you have concerns about static charge, please see last image for more info.

Step 1: What You Need. "Parts"

I decided to use 1 ½ inch pipe for the system. The 1 ½ inch pipe fits best with the hose that came with my wet/dry vacuum. It will also connect right up to my dust separator.

- Wye Fitting - ABS
- 90-degree Elbow long sweep - ABS
- Coupling fitting - ABS
- End caps - PVC
- 10’ sections - PVC
- Pipe hanger
- 2" x 2" flexible pipe coupling. Used to connect the vacuum hose to the PVC. Also not shown in picture.

Yes I am using both ABS and PVC… The ABS fittings were on clearance at the Hardware store.  The wye fittings will work better than a T fitting.  The Wye fittings will allow you to direct the dust/dirt toward the vacuum. The Elbows are long sweep so the dust/dirt does not have to make such a hard turn.

Step 2: Choosing Your Connection Location

I picked three different areas in my garage.  Front wall by the garage door, middle center, and back wall by my workbench. Green star in each picture shows the location.

Step 3: Hanging the Pipe

I started by cutting the pipe hangers down a bit. This will allow the pipe to hang down about 3 inches from the ceiling.

Step 4: Cut to Size

Now that a couple of the hangers are up, it’s time to cut the pipe to size.  After you cut the pipe, make sure to clean the ends up. I took the inside edge down. That way nothing would get caught when in use. Once the pipe is cut to size hang it up on the wall. As of right now I am not gluing any of the ends up, saving that for later.

Step 5: Now for the Hard Part. Kind Of.

I have a large support beam that divides my garage. So the connection layout was a bit tricky. I also had the middle section and dust separator to connect up. Blue tape was a reference line for my mock up.

Step 6: Last Bit of Pipe.

The last bit of pipe and the shortest was for the front garage connection. In the picture you can see that I used the end caps as a shut off. This will allow me to shut off the ends and move the hose around. “see yellow box”

Step 7: Testing

Now it is time to test. I removed one of the caps from one of the ends and connect up the hose with the flexible coupling. One nice thing is my wet/dry vacuum has a remote switch. There was a bit of suction lost, but not that much. It still does what I need it to do.

Step 8: Static

Thank you Lee Valley Tools for the info.

Comments

author
WayneC67 (author)2017-07-19

Do you need to run wire both inside and outside the pvc

author
AdamW62 (author)2017-01-17

Of course the PVC does not conduct electricity and that's why you can't just run a single grounding strap from any point along the pipe. The bare wire traverses the entire system giving the excess electrons (static electricity) a path to ground when they build up. The dust itself will likely have a slight positive charge when leaving the pipe since much of the material in dust tends to give up electrons. It's the air itself that is giving up most of the electrons that collect on the PVC. The PVC steals electrons from the dust/air but since it is not conductive they just build up on the surface thus needing the bare wire as a path to ground.

https://jh399.k12.sd.us/dailyassign/physics/ch7mat...

There you will see that PVC collects electrons while the list of things that tend to give up electrons seems to be stuff that would likely be collected in the vacuum system. Wood is noted as also collecting some electrons but barely and is almost neutral. I would guess that to mean you are fairly safe if this was in a wood shop.

author
PilJ (author)2016-12-08

You just can't ground insulating material like plastic pipes. (just think about it, it's an oxymoron. you have to be able to conduct to ground. so conducting insulator?) So there is no way you can reduce the potential static discharge. Now whether that may cause an explosion in a hobby shop is a separate question. I would love to hear about any empirical evidence or any case report of this actually happening.

author
lewiscreations (author)PilJ2016-12-16

In this case you would not ground insulated material. You would be remove the static from the dust. Here is a good article about it.

http://www.leevalley.com/us/shopping/Instructions....

author
PilJ (author)lewiscreations2016-12-16

First of all the article does not talk about "removing the static from the dust". As I read it they are talking about reducing the static from the pipe itself (e.g. "As charges can also collect on the outside surface...") although they are not specific about it. For sure there is no mention whatsoever about the static in the dust.
Second, as I mentioned this scheme just doesn't work. It's alchemy, scientifically impossible. I love Lee Valley and most of their advices seem sound, but this is one advice from them I don't like. They plaster this kind of advice on all of their PVC DC components.
Third, let's say they are really talking about "removing the static from the dust". Now I would like to know how much "the static in the dust" is a concern or if it even exists in a significant enough quantity. And how does copper wire in or outside the pipe "remove the static from the dust"?

Would love to be enlightened if someone can prove me wrong either by empiric experiment, or explaining in proper quantitative/scientific terms.

author
logwolf (author)2016-12-15

I see it's been a few years since this was posted. I am wondering if this setup has actually been working for you? What machines do you have connected to it? If you have a planer installed, does that cause problems?

This is exactly how I want to set up my dust system.

Great instructable!

author
lewiscreations (author)logwolf2016-12-16

Logwolf,

Thank you for your comment. Yes. I still use this setup and has worked out great. Only problem I have had is a large piece of wood getting stuck now and then. I just have a shop vac connected to it. Which is shown in the first picture. I have a planer but it does not connect it up to this system. The size of this system is best for shop clean up and low dust output tools.

Hope your setup works out.

author
Jobow (author)2014-01-05

Warning! PVC will build up a static electric charge as debris flows through it. If you don't ground that system it could shock the crap out of you or ignite an explosion if you have gas fumes in your work space.

author
lewiscreations (author)Jobow2014-01-06

Jobow,
Thank you for your comment. You just made me realize I did not put this in my documentation. While I have not done this yet, it is my next step. Besides testing the system after I was done. I don’t plan on using the system until this step is complete. I guess that will make for another Instructable.
Thank you again.

author

I did some looking around and found an interesting discussion on CNCZone about it. It looks like there are some dependent factors, like what materials you're working with (wood chips, plastics, metals, etc.) and the internal volume of the pipes. Looks like the question isn't so easily settled...!

http://www.cnczone.com/forums/mechanical_calculations_engineering_design/38555-grounding_pvc_pipe_dust_collector.html

author

There is a lot of discussions about this topic. Most of it is about how the conductions need to be just right for it to happen. I have also read a lot about which is better. Running a wire inside or outside the pipe. I am going to go with it is better to be safe than sorry.

author
Prime214 (author)lewiscreations2014-11-25

I pump fuel for a living and we never use pvc because of the static

If your not pumping gas dont worry about it

author
maymoguis1234 (author)2014-10-11

Pvc

author
haleswd (author)2014-02-23

Myth: A construction worker accidentally killed himself with static charge after sandblasting an 8 foot PVC pipe. BUSTED.

No matter what MythBusters did, they couldn't create much of a spark from PVC. It may still ignite fumes, but other than that, I wouldn't worry.

author
craftclarity (author)2014-01-06

Nice setup! I'm curious, did you build the dust separator too?

author

Yes. Built it about a year ago and works great. If you would like info about it I can create an Instructable.

author
PKM (author)lewiscreations2014-01-09

An Instructable would be great- I want to build a standalone one for the wood shop so we can vacuum up coarse sawdust without worrying about filling hoover bags too quickly.

author

That'd be cool! I've been wanting to build a setup like this for my garage.

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