When you make that jump from renting to owning your own home, you soon realize there are tools and appliances you must have. As a first-time homeowner and a parent of three on a tight budget, our lead tester found herself in need of an affordable yet reliable wet/dry vacuum, so she turned to a trusted brand – Shop-Vac.
The 5-gallon wet/dry vacuum she chose is the smallest of Shop-Vac’s Stainless Steel line, making storage a non-issue in her small starter home. It’s ideal for blowing off walkways, vacuuming a car and other light-duty tasks. In this review, you’ll get a first-hand account of our tester’s experience using her new Shop-Vac.
There is a little bit of assembly required on your part, but it takes 5 to 10 minutes, which is no big deal. The owner’s manual provides assembly instructions for all the wet/dry vac’s in the Stainless Steel line, and they all differ, so finding the directions for mine took a few minutes.
Let me save you some time and tell you there are three parts you’ll need to attach to the Shop-Vac – the casters, the side handles and the secondary tool holder. You’ll only need a flat-head screwdriver for the side handles. Attaching the casters is a push-turn-snap process, and the tool holder slides into place.
Shop-Vac included all the necessary filtration elements with this wet/dry vacuum, which means there is virtually no mess you can’t clean. You get a barrel-style cartridge filter, a disposable filter bag and a foam sleeve.
The cartridge media achieves a standard filtration rate, and it can be used solo if you’re vacuuming regular dry debris. For liquid pick-up, remove the cartridge and slide on the reusable foam sleeve in its place.
When cleaning up fine debris such as drywall dust, you definitely want to use the disposable bag in conjunction with the cartridge filter. Like most vacuum bags, this one has a cardboard cuff to make a seal around the suction inlet.
Hose and Cord
After I assembled the Shop-Vac, blowing hedge clippings off the walkway and vacuuming my car were the two chores I wanted to tackle first. However, it was clear that the 6-foot-long power cord was too short. You’ll definitely need to use an extension cord. An 8-foot one added enough length for me to reach my car.
I found the hose to be plenty long enough. At 7 feet in length, I was able to extend the hose across the seats of my car, saving me the hassle of rolling the Shop-Vac from the passenger’s side to the driver’s side.
If you’re kind of clumsy like me, you’ll be happy to know the hose is durable. During the process of testing this Shop-Vac, I accidentally stepped on it with full force, and it bounced right back into shape.
This Shop-Vac boasts a 4.5-peak horsepower motor, which is excellent for a small wet/dry vacuum. Since it only draws 9.9 amps, you don’t have to worry about it tripping your home’s circuits.
Other must-know specs include 130 cubic feet per minute of suction strength and a 59-inch water lift. To give you a better idea of its suction pull, the Shop-Vac lifted the PopSocket in my car, overpowering the PopSocket’s adhesive.
When vacuuming or blowing, the noise level was just a little louder than one of those old-timey bagged uprights like your grandma had. This means you won’t need to wear a pair of ear defenders and you won’t irritate your neighbors, which was important to me since the houses in my neighborhood are ridiculously close together.
Besides the 1.25-inch-wide hose and three-piece extension pole set, Shop-Vac includes three more handy tools. There is a gulper tool for liquid spills and a floor nozzle, which made quick work of cleaning my car’s floorboards.
The crevice wand was particularly handy for vacuuming cup holders and that awkward space between the car door and seat. While the accessory package is generous, I wish it had a brush attachment to dust hard surfaces and help loosen clingy hair from the coarse automobile carpet.
On the backside of the wet/dry vacuum, there is a blower port. It was easy to switch from vacuuming to blowing. All you do is pull out the hose from the suction port and push it into the blower port.
The four-slot caddy does get in the way when you have tools on it. If you want to keep the tools onboard while using the blower, you can spin the top of the Shop-Vac and move the caddy out of the way.
To blow hedge clippings off my walkway, I used one of the three extension wand pieces. As a blower, the Shop-Vac was so powerful that I was able to quickly clear the entire walkway without having to move from one spot. My days of sweeping the walkway (which, let’s face it, isn’t as effective) are definitely over!
As the product name indicates, the wet/dry vacuum has a 5-gallon tank made of stainless steel. However, the Shop-Vac is surprisingly lightweight at 15 pounds, and it didn’t feel like 15 pounds when I was carrying it around by the raised tote handle. Its compact size also made it easy to carry.
If you’d rather not move it by the top or side handles, you can always roll the wet/dry vac. The four casters spin smoothly, and they’re positioned on a stationary dolly, which lends to the Shop-Vac stability along with its squat design.
I also liked the location of the power switch. Situated on top of the Shop-Vac, the rocker switch is easy to access, and it minimizes the need to bend over. You also don’t have to worry about the handle getting in the way since the switch sits in front of the handle instead of under it.
As far as the tank’s security goes, Shop-Vac wasn’t kidding when it calls the latches a “secure latch system.” They are effortless to lock but difficult to unlock, so don’t be afraid to apply pressure. At least I didn’t have to worry about the tank popping open while I vacuumed.
A Well-Rounded Light-Duty Wet/Dry Vac for the Budget-Minded
Except for the lack of a brush (which you can buy separately), I was satisfied with what I got for the price. Assembly was quick and straightforward. The Shop-Vac came with filters for all messes, including dry debris, fine dust and liquid. Although none of the filters are of the HEPA variety, you can get HEPA ones for cheap.
If you plan to use the Shop-Vac for liquid cleanups, be aware that there is no drain. However, the vac is lightweight and just 21 inches tall, so tipping it over to empty the contents is easy. The wet/dry vac rolls effortlessly, and it’s small enough to store almost anywhere. The tank’s stainless-steel construction means it won’t rust over time.
The specs pertaining to the wet/dry vacuum’s suctioning and blowing power are above-average for the unit’s size, and it’s not deafeningly loud. Switching between the suction and blower ports was no hassle, and while the latches are hard to lock, they certainly keep the tank’s contents secure – It’s possible they’ll ease up with repeated use.
I was pleased with the length and durability of the hose. Although the cord is woefully short, it’s nothing an inexpensive extension cord can’t remedy. There are also plenty of places to keep the tools onboard, but make sure to twist the Shop-Vac’s top, or you’ll accidentally detach the external caddy. Overall, the 5-gallon Shop-Vac is a worthwhile buy.
Best for: People on a Budget, Light-Duty Tasks, and Car Vacuuming
Canister Shop Vac | Recommended
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Last Update: 2023-12-07 | Affiliate links/Images from Amazon Product Advertising API