Dust Collector Cartridge Filter Cleaning: Is it worth it?

Jan 16, 2014

Does dust collector cartridge filter cleaning make sense? We have been interested in cleaning our cartridge filters instead of replacing them with new ones. This has been a topic for discussion around here for a while. We use cartridge filters for our welding, plasma and grinding operations. We also manufacture and market them as a product for most brands of dust collectors. At first glance, the concept seems to make sense. So we decided to have an open forum discussion about the differences.  Below is a list of questions and answers that we came up with regarding the topic.


Q: Does dust collector filter cleaning have an effect on the original filters emission throughput?

A: When we sell our filters we sell them with a manufactures guaranteed emission statement. This statement is based on the performance of new filters tested in a laboratory. We cannot offer an emission statement once they are mechanically cleaned outside of the original dust collector.


Q: Does the cost to clean the filters outweigh the cost to replace them?

A: It is hard for us to put a solid number on this question. Our concerns would be related to the following costs. This includes freight, damaged filters from shipping and handling, labor, and storage for a spare set of filters. Additionally, there’s clean up from excessive handling of dirty filters and premature failure to your HEPA filters from less efficient filters. Take a 10 cartridge dust collector and estimate the cost of new filters to be $2,000.  Then start subtracting the costs listed above and you might have a hard time justifying it.


Q: Is there a danger that re-installing your cleaned used cartridge filters will harm your employees? Will it cause a negative impact on your operation?

A: Most cartridge filters today work in the OEM’s dust collector with the original factory cleaning system. If you take the spent cartridge filters out and try to mechanically clean them you may jeopardize the integrity of the filter media. This can fracture the substrate especially if there is a Nanofiber treatment on the filter. With a damaged filter you are at risk of contaminating the air stream potentially causing harm to your workers and your process. This issue will show up very fast if you have a broken bag detector in line or a bank of HEPA filters after the primary filters.


Q: Is excessive handling dirty filters a good idea?

A: If you have ever changed out a set of filters on your own you will find that it can be a less than desirable job. Even when you have a simple tool-free filter change-out system like the CMAXX, it can be a lot of work. Besides that fact the no one likes to handle dirty filters, there is always a risk of putting a hole in one of the filters from handling. Not to mention that finding a filter with a hole in it can be a major job in itself.


Q: Will using cleaned cartridge filters meet my DEP/OSHA permits?

A: Our filter emissions are based on using new filters. If you remove our filters and clean them with anything other than the dust collector’s cleaning system, our emission statement no longer applies and cannot be used for DEP/OSHA permits.


Q: Is it necessary to use a dust collector filter cleaning machine or have our filters cleaned by a third party if we have a built-in cleaning system on our dust collector?

A: No. If you have a built-in cleaning system on your dust collector and you are properly cleaning it there is no need. Most dust collection systems have the ability to do both “online” and “offline” cleaning. Online cleaning occurs while the system fan is running. It is either continuous or starts cleaning at a certain differential pressure. The offline cleaning feature is the most effective method of cleaning. This occurs after the main system fan shuts down. It allows the reverse air to purge the dirty filter for a given time or until the filter is clean. This is essentially what a filter cleaning company s or a filter cleaning machine does without mechanically shaking the filter. We manufacture a controller to add to any dust collector with a reverse pulse cleaning system to give you this added benefit.