Industrial Vacuum Cleaning

Equipment and System Selection and Design

Pneutrans Systems Ltd. wishes to keep all our customers, sales agents and representatives out of trouble. For this reason you are very strongly advised not to attempt to design a full vacuum cleaning system. There are too many “tricks and traps”. Following the information included herein, you will be able you to design a small portion of the tube network correctly.

Whether it is a pound of feathers, pound of sand or pound of uranium, these products all handle differently. When your customer has an application – make a suggestion on a piece of equipment that will solve the problem. Do not recommend the least expensive piece of equipment – you may end up with “egg on your face” as the equipment will not be powerful enough even though the competitor says their equal equipment will solve the problem.

When you think you have found a customer with an application, gather the following details:

The following information applies to both Portable and Central Vacuum Cleaning Systems.

  1. What is the customer’s budget? This will reduce or eliminate misunderstandings and time wasting by everyone. A small, full central vacuum cleaning system price starts at about $ 100,000. A small central vacuum cleaning system powered by a MegaVac, price might start at $ 30,000. A MegaVac price starts at $ 20,000. A Goliath price starts at $ 14,000.
    1. What does the customer want to do??
    2. Note the full details on how the customer thinks the job should be done.
    3. Note the full details on the product to be picked-up/moved.
  2. Evaluate the problem and solution. How would you solve the need??
  3. When still in doubt contact Pneutrans Systems Ltd with ALL the information for us to provide a recommendation.

It is better for the competition to have “egg on their face” than you.

Here is an actual example. Years ago, we were asked to provide a portable vacuum cleaner to pick-up broken/shattered safety glass (1/8 to 3/16 inch glass cubes). This was

  1. An actual requirement.
  2. A customer with a tight budget.

We built and supplied a 7.5 horse power Goliath portable vacuum cleaner. It was useless – not enough vacuum and air flow muscle power to do the job. A 15 or 20 horse power MegaVac would have done the job properly. Because of the tight budget, the 7.5 horse power Goliath was returned to us. That company did not buy ANY vacuum cleaner – just continued brooming and shoveling.

You may design a simple tube network for your customer. Here are some serious designs.

Hose Length

Keep hoses short say 25 or 30 feet long. Longer hoses are available however longer hoses become tangled around columns, furniture and machinery. A good tug by the user will creates 2 hoses - both too short. It is VERY IMPORTANT to place inlet valves every 40 feet apart. Inlet valve installations are not that expensive especially in the long run. Another important reason for short hoses – the exhauster may not be able to handle an accumulated dirt load in a long hose – a hose blockage is created.

Hose Diameter

When your customer can write initials in the dust – a 1 ½ inch I.D. diameter hose is required.
A spill or pile of dust and dirt equal to 1 or more wheel barrows full – a 2 inch I.D. diameter hose is required.
Larger diameter hoses are available. Telephone Pneumatic Systems Ltd for assistance on this.

Hose Air flow

Allow for the following airflow through a hose of a given diameter:
1 ½ inch I.D. – 100 C.F.M.
2 inch I.D. – 200 C.F.M.

Telephone Pneutrans Systems Ltd when assistance is required.

Hose Types

When considering hoses remember there are 10 million types, diameters, colours, applications etc. to choose from. When air pressure, oil, water, hydraulic hoses, most colours and everything under 1 inch and over 6 inches in diameter are eliminated, the number to be considered is less than 30. The most common types are:

Non Abrasive dust and dirt Use plastic hose. Suitable for bare floors and carpets
Light and Medium Abrasion (Sand) Use 180 AR – Abrasion resistant and static dissipating. The most common hose used.
Heavy Abrasion Sand Blast Hose (gum rubber lined) for steel shot and stone. contact Pneutrans Systems Ltd.
Static Electricity Use 180 AR– Abrasion resistant and static dissipating. The most common hose used. No extra steps are required for static electricity conducting/grounding.
Food Handling Food Grade with or without a ground wire.
Metal Tube Sizing

Metal tube is more or less mandatory to withstand abrasion on the bends and elbows. When the products are very abrasive then schedule pipe is used. Metal tube/pipe is static electricity conductive.

Do not consider plastic tube or pipe as static electricity, fire codes and abrasive wear are negative considerations here.

Important to Remember

Tube size is an OUTSIDE diameter. Pipe size is an INSIDE diameter. For example a 3 inch tube will fit inside a 3 inch pipe. A hanger for a 3 inch diameter tube is a 2 ½ inch pipe hanger. A hanger for a 3 inch diameter pipe is 3 inches.

There are many types of metal tube/pipe materials to choose from. Each has is specific purpose. Most of the time the customer will advise you of the type to use - here is a partial list:

1. Galvanized steel The most popular and common type. This finish looks attractive for a long period of time. No painting will be necessary for the tubing and fittings for acceptance or for warranty reasons.
2. Carbon Steel Not popular as the surface rusts easily and quickly. The integrity of the tube is NOT compromised by the rust. It is not commonly used.
3. Aluminum Used by some companies in the food industry.
4. Stainless Steel Used by the food and pharmaceutical industries. Being a harder material, it is somewhat more abrasive resistant. It is expensive. Several types - 304 is the most common type, 316 is available. Other types may be available but hard to find. Find out from your customer what type is required.
5. Copper Frequently used for wet or wet/dry systems in hospitals.
6. Schedule piping Used for very abrasive material.

A 1 ½ inch I.D. or a 2 inch I.D. hose plugs into a 2 1/8 inch I.D. or better a 2 ½ inch I.D. tube.

2 – 1 ½ inch I.D. hoses plug into a 2 ½ inch I.D. tube.

2 – 2 inch I.D. hoses plug into a 3 inch I.D. tube

Check this out with the Tube Air Loss Tables.

Tube and Pipe Connections

The treatment of joints between
Two tubes
Two pipes
Tubes and pipes
Tubes and/or pipes and equipment

These are VERY important to the operation of the vacuum cleaning system. There are TWO very important actions to be taken to make the system operate without trouble for the life of the vacuum cleaning system. There are NO exceptions or compromises.

  1. Both halves of ALL joints must be thoroughly beveled with a file to remove ALL metal burrs. When this is NOT done lint, rags, fibers, human hair will catch and hang up on a burr no matter how large or small, causing a blockage when and where you lease expect it. In short, bevel all joints thoroughly.
  2. Sealing ALL joints 100 % is a must. A sieve consists of many small holes. A leaking vacuum cleaning system is not dependable. This leads to early abandonment. Good joints are an asset to the system and easy to make. Removable couplings are required for access to the system for cleaning or clearing a blockage. Here is a partial list of tube couplings.
    • Solid or slip sleeves with shrink sleeves over. (Not easily removable.)
    • Belled ends on fittings with shrink sleeves over
    • Bolt sheaves usually have grounding strips. A variation on this has “TEE” handles instead of nuts for manual tightening.
    • Braising or welding

Caution – Shrink sleeves by themselves have NO mechanical strength. They are excellent seals.

Pipe joints are the same as above plus various special pipe couplings (Victaulic). Pipes are not threaded together.

Glued and Silicone joints are NOT recommended as the bonding action is too slow.

Tube and Pipe Hangers

Important to Remember

Tube sizes are an OUTSIDE diameter. Pipe sizes are an INSIDE diameter. For example a 3 inch tube will fit inside a 3 inch pipe. A hanger for a 3 inch diameter tube is a 2 ½ inch pipe hanger. A hanger for a 3 inch diameter pipe is 3 inches.

Hangers have two purposes;

  1. This is the support means for the tube/pipe network. This includes the horizontal and vertical parts of the network.
  2. These supports help ground the system to conduct or dissipate static electricity.

Hangers must be securely fastened to the building structure and the hanger itself. Proper spacing is important to prevent the system from hanging like a banana also for safety reasons – to prevent the tube/pipe network from falling down.

  1. 12 to 15 feet spacing for horizontal tube/pipe
  2. At or near each fitting
  3. At each floor penetration for the vertical.
Separator and Dust Can Storage Capacity

MegaVac and Goliath Portable Industrial Vacuum dust cans have limited holding capacity. That capacity is quickly increased with a Drum Top Hat Separator or a Roll Forward Hopper. See the price pages and the specification/drawing pages in this manual for details.

Drum Top Separators – special applications

The occasional vacuuming (once a year or so) of water directly into the vacuum system or portable vacuum does no harm. “Regular” wet vacuuming will corrode (rust) the inside of the tube/pipe network and separators. It is better to vacuum the water into a Drum Top Hat Separator and drum connected as a primary separator placed before the system and using the system for vacuum only. Drums are inexpensive to replace when rusted out. Some materials exposed to water will set and become hard and will NOT pick up again when they are dry.

Using the same set-up, “special” construction materials can be avoided.

Dust Carryover

Dust and dirt entering a separator requires a moment to settle. When this can NOT occur, the dust quickly carries over to the next filtration stage(s). Here are some symptoms of this occurring:

  1. When the dust can fills quickly.
  2. When the bottom cuffs of the filter bags show wear.
  3. When the filter bags blind frequently or quickly.
  4. When the inline filter cartridge blinds frequently or quickly.

By adding extra settling capacity in the form of a Primary Separator, Drum Top Hat Separator, or Roll Forward Hopper the dust load and carryover will be greatly reduced on the total filtration system

Tube/Pipe Layout and Installation

Tube/pipe should be installed following and square to the building lines – the grid. Install where it is safe to do the overhead work easily, such as isles. Avoid where possible:

  1. Over machinery, ovens, refrigerators, freezers and warehoused items. The customer may or may not help you in these areas by moving “things” for you.
  2. Elevator shafts, truck and car ramps.
  3. Sky lights
  4. The outdoors, unless special provision is made. Telephone Pneutrans Systems Ltd for advice on this situation.
  5. Discharging the exhauster outdoors. Find out from your customer if this can be done without governmental authority.

Installation of the tube/pipe network across the building “as a bee flies” may save some material costs which will be more than offset by the increase in labour costs. Future modifications to the system may be difficult, limited and expensive.


Explosive Dusts and Materials

When you find a customer that wishes to vacuum up saw dust, gunpowder, sugar, starch, grain and many other explosive materials extreme caution is required. When the customer vacuums up a bolt, nut or rock there may be a spark created inside the separator creating an explosion. The heat and pressure inside the separator will cause the separator to explode like a hand grenade. Special precautions are required when designing these systems. Read the section in this manual on rupture disks then telephone Pneutrans Systems Ltd for assistance on this situation.

Mechanical Installation Contractors

Must be someone both you and the customer can work with and trust.
The contractor’s prices are acceptable to all parties, both directly and in directly.
Must be licensed to do the work in that jurisdiction.
When a union contractor is required they must be the Steamfitters’ Union.
For you to recommend to your customer when you do not wish to become involved with installation.

Electrical Installation Contractors

Must be someone both you and the customer can work with and trust.
The contractor’s prices are acceptable to all parties, both directly and in directly.
Must be licensed to do the work in that jurisdiction.
When a union contractor is required they must be the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union.
For you to recommend to your customer when you do not wish to become involved with installation.

Over 45 years of Expertise

Pneutrans Systems Ltd. is your one-stop-shop for Vacuum Cleaning Systems. We specialize in the design, fabrication and installation of portable and central vacuum cleaning systems, dust collection systems and pneumatic conveying systems for a wide range of Industrial and Commercial applications.

We have hundreds of installed systems and we know how to handle the tough applications others won’t touch. Pneutrans’ resources provide the flexibility of choosing various manufacturers’ components to give you the best fit solution with a vacuum pump and filtration system selected specifically for you and what you are trying to accomplish.

Looking for solutions? Call Pneutrans Systems Ltd. at 416-391-3408 or 1-800-461-6180