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Thread: Is a shop vac repairable?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Is a shop vac repairable?

    This afternoon my shop vac started to sound like the bearings are going out. I check everything without taking it apart and nothing seems wrong except for the sound it now makes, particularly at start up. Could be the fins inside? are broken but it sounds like motor bearings to me. i'll have to take it apart but I was wondering if anyone has done any similar repairs to one. It's a Shop Vac 12 gal., older, probably had it 15-20 years.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Lafayette, IN
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    Doubtful. They change them all the time, parts are probably hard to find, if at all. If it's 15-20 years old, I'd call it good for no more than a new one is. I've torn into a dead one before--it takes quite a while to even get at the motor. I've found that they last much longer if they don't get rained on, and if you use the bag inserts when picking up fine dusts.
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  3. #3
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    If you are the frugal and inquisitive type, you don't have much to lose by taking the ShopVac apart to see if you can get to the armature bearings and motor brushes. The motor may be riveted together. Don't let that stop you. Drill out the rivets and replace with same-size machine screws and nuts w/lock washers, when it's time to put everything back together. The motor bearings should have a number on them to get replacements. As for motor brushes, you can find any carbon brush under the sun HERE.
    Last edited by Chip Lindley; 03-01-2011 at 7:45 PM.
    Necessisity is the Mother of Invention, But If it Ain't Broke don't Fix It !!

  4. #4

    You can do it!

    I had the exact same situation occur with my Sears Craftsman shop vac about ten years ago. Horrible screeching on start up and a grinding sound while running.

    Perhaps I was lucky but I took it apart, thoroughly cleaned and lubed up things and this vacuum lives to suck another day. All in I had 30 minutes into the "repair". Honestly, the new vacuums are hideous; do what you can to revive this older unit of yours.

  5. #5
    I found that the best way to fix them is to turn them in to trash cans. I have two of them, craftsman, that smoked. I threw away the top part with the motor and the tank makes a real nice rolling garbage can. Keep the hose and use it to make an extension on the new one that you buy. Jared

  6. #6
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    Jan 2009
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    Williamsburg,Va.
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    I have repaired Electrolux vacs by installing new bearings. Worked fine.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Long Hill Township, NJ
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    I picked a Fein Turbo II up at the curb. It sounded horrible running but the power up on tool start still worked so I figured I cannibalize that if the rest was DOA.

    I took it apart down to the fan impellers which were CAKED with sheet rock dust. Cleaned it up and it purrs again.

    Like the others said - what have you got to lose?

    Cheers

    Jim

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Mattheiss View Post
    I picked a Fein Turbo II up at the curb. It sounded horrible running but the power up on tool start still worked so I figured I cannibalize that if the rest was DOA. I took it apart down to the fan impellers which were CAKED with sheet rock dust. Cleaned it up and it purrs again... Jim
    You win! Post a pic and it qualifies as a gloat.
    -Brian

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Northern Colorado
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    I like the info you received.

    With all of that ... if it were me ... I'd strip the thing down, and figure out what it needs.

    Then, get pricing.

    It may or may not be worth fixing, but ... I'd go at least THAT far.

    Plus ... it's just kinda' fun

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Brooks View Post
    Plus ... it's just kinda' fun
    I tell LOML all the time that 90% of what is wrong with old appliances that quit working is dirt and lack of lubrication. Take it apart, it will be lots of fun.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Contribute

  11. #11
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    Well I'm inquisitive enough, frugal will depend. I definitely plan to take it apart to see what I can find. I kinda wondered if anyone had experience changing bearings, costs involved, etc. I get back to you when I get a chance to tear it apart.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jared herbert View Post
    I found that the best way to fix them is to turn them in to trash cans.
    +1 here. I am on my second or third Craftsman that I use for general purpose shop-vac'n tasks. When they die the become rolling trash cans. Come to think of it, I probably should have turned my current one into a rolling trash can straight out of the box. I "strongly dislike" it - thing makes a TON of racket and wont even roll over it's own cord without getting hung up.
    Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
    -Bill Watterson

    Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.
    -W. C. Fields

  13. #13
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    Mar 2005
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    Pickering, Ontario.
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    My 20-ish year old c-man "Sears Best" wet/dry shop vac packed it in last fall, having done yeoman's service all those years. It was always very noisy but seemed to run forever. I bought a new Rigid 6 hp unit at HD as a replacement for @ $100 on sale at the time. The new one is a good machine and quiet too. Wish I had retired the c-man years ago.

  14. #14
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    Well I took it all apart. The noise is definitely coming from the commutator/brushes or the armature. I only know basics about electric motors and cannot tell what exactly is the problem. The armature seems to spin without noticeable play, the commutator doesn't appear too worn, nor do the brushes, although I don't know what the brushes should look like new. I'm guessing maybe new brushes would resolve the problem but Shop Vac's website doesn't break down parts that far, even on the newer models. My model (800A) isn't listed anyway. The brushes did have a number on them (should have written it down, thought I could remember it. yeah right!). Don't know if I could even get replacement brushes, IF they are the problem. I suspect I'll have to make a rolling trash can out of it and get a new one. The Rigid seems to get good reviews, especially for general shop clean-up.

  15. #15
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    IF Carbonbrush.com does not have ShopVac brushes listed, you can always use your brushes measurements to find what you need with suitable connector wires if yours use those. It's not rocket surgery!

    I'm just not a proponent of our disposable society if i dont have to be! I found brushes at Carbonbrush.com for a 20-year old Skil 4-1/2" side grinder. New brushes, and the little grinder lives again! As said, many older tools are light-years ahead of what is currently available. Bearings, brushes, or a trigger switch and they run like a champ!
    Necessisity is the Mother of Invention, But If it Ain't Broke don't Fix It !!

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