Nathan Ford, Application Specialist at Fein, offers his advice on choosing your next dust extractor.
The construction industry’s understanding of the danger of dust has greatly improved in the last few years. Once considered little more than a nuisance on-site, dust is now understood for what it is: a real risk to your lungs. In fact, certain types of dust can cause long-term, life-changing illnesses if breathed in regularly.
It has led to a series of publications on the subject by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and a rise in the number of sites that are now increasing the minimum level of extraction required to work on the premises. For many tradespeople this will mean having to purchase new equipment or run the risk of missing out on work.
However, before you rush out to your nearest wholesaler, you should take the time to familiarise yourself with which potential features of a dust extractor will be most useful to you.
One of the most important aspects of effective dust extraction is an auto-clean system. In the past, an issue with extractors has been how quickly ﬁne dust can clog ﬁlters once it passes through the bag. Automatic ﬁlter cleaning systems, such as Fein’s Auto-Clean, regularly reverse the airﬂow so that any ﬁne dust sitting in the ﬁlter is blown down into the extractor’s container. This means less time is wasted on constant ﬁlter changes and harmful dust particles are kept in the machine.
High-end extractor models will often have an auto-start outlet that turns the extractor on when the power tool plugged in to it is turned on. This can be a great timesaver and ensures you have suction exactly when you need it. Likewise, it’s worth looking out for extractors that provide a ‘Run On’ after the tool is turned off. This will ensure that any of the ﬁnal waste is pulled away from the tool, out of the hose and into the tank.
Another handy feature is being able to select different hose diameter settings. Having the ability to adjust suction power gives you the freedom to tailor your approach in order to better deal with the task in hand. To further this customisation it’s always handy to choose a model that has both dry and wet capabilities, so you can be assured you’ll never be caught short.
With the ability to be used as a portable toolbox, it’s essential that an extractor has a large working radius, something that can only be achieved with a long power cable and hose. Some of the best models have power cables that run up to 7.5 metres and hoses up to 4 metres. In addition, never overlook the importance of an extractor’s guide wheels, especially if you’re interested in an ultra portable device. With high-quality guide wheels, which can be turned 360˚ and locked on a steep terrain, FEIN’s extractors rival any machine in terms of movement.
As mentioned before, ﬁlter class is becoming increasingly important. Extractors are available in three different dust classes: L (Low), M (Medium) and H (High), depending on the risks associated with dusts involved. Some wood dusts (such as beech and ash) and mineral dusts containing quartz fall under the M class. Since recognising substances can be difficult (and because of the tightening legislation) many sites are now imposing an M-class minimum.