Hello chimney sweeps and industry professionals, todays article is about Hepa airborne dust extractors. We are going to explain; what they are?, what they do? Why we need one? And costs.
What is an air cleaner?
An air cleaner is a powerful adjustable, fan unit built within a casing. The casing houses a very large HEPA filter and a pre filter at the air intake end. They are generally mains electric powered and often of a size as to be portable.
What do they do?
As the name suggest an air cleaner removes small dust particles from the working areas atmosphere. It accomplishes this by by catching them in a highly efficient HEPA filter. A centrifugal fan draws in and then blows out air from the room in an action that recirculates its entire volume many times removing harmful particles in the process.
Most units are also capable of depressurising a work area or space by attaching a hose to the exhaust and then routing said hose to the outside space. This can be invaluable when there is a lot of dust that you need to contain within one room or dust tent. In this scenario a vacuum is formed in the work area causing air to be drawn in through any available crack/holes. This action makes it almost impossible for dust to escape as the vacuum makes a one way road so to speak.
Health issues regarding fine dust.
It is very well documented that fine dust particularly particles between pm10 and pm 2.5 pose a significant health risk within the general population. This dust typically originates from industrial processes and combustion of hydrocarbon based fuels.
It is estimated that around 37000 premature deaths are attributable to pm2.5 dust pollution in the U.K. each year (ref European Environment Agency figures published for 2012). This same fine dust is what us chimney sweeps clean from chimneys each day and as such we have a much higher risk from prolonged exposure and increased concentration.
Where would we use such a device when we already have clean process?
After many years of trials we have come to the conclusion that no matter how good or clean your process is there will still be a small amount of soot / dust that becomes airborne within the property. This can happen when unsealing, removing sheets, laying sheets, removing rods from the flue, spinning rods via rotary systems, soot that passes unseen through cloths during the sweeping process and simple sweeping up. There might even be some soot that makes its way to the wrong side of the vacuum filter occasionally which of course contaminates the workplace aka customers living room when you turn it on.
For chimney sweeps, as a rule of thumb such a device can be used anywhere that there is an increased risk, when dust cannot be controlled by traditional methods, when applying fine dust product such as Cre-Away, in prestigious properties or simply all the time if you are of a cautious sensible nature.
As chimney sweeps We might use a negative set up when we are removing a large nest from a large chimney and the flue is blocked preventing the natural draught.
There are several devices on the market that serve the purposes above however the device that we have focussed on today is the DC500 dust cube manufactured by dust control. It is a quality device made from stainless steel. The dust cube is also light and durable. There are two filters; a l very large HEPA filter which sits inside the unit and a disposable pre filter which fits to the front grill.
The unit is suitable for fine and hazardous dusts as small as 0.3 microns. Fine quartz dust and soot are both good examples of dangerous fine dust.
The only real Negative of using a Dust extractor is the additional cost. Unfortunately many chimney sweeps are still to be convinced of the real need to use vacuum cleaners with adequate filtration or even high efficiency dust masks and as such for this group, a good H-rated HEPA vacuum and/or high efficiency mask should be top of the priority list.
For those wishing for extra safety, lower the risk of having nasties in the air and add additional customer value, a dust extractor is an excellent addition to your ever growing sweeping tool kit and recommended by sweep safe as equipment to lower risk/exposure for chimney sweeps. The additional costs that you must factor over the unit itself is the replacement HEPA filters which will require changing infrequently and the pre filters that you will need to change regularly as keeping these clean will help prolong the life of the HEPA unit.
A Thank you to Dust control for the use of the images used in this blog.
For the environment
For chimney sweeps
For the consumer