Cartridge Filter Cleaning: is it worth it?

Jan 16, 2014

Does having your dust collectors cartridge filters cleaned make sense? We have been interested in having our cartridge filters cleaned instead of replacing them with new ones. This has been a topic for discussion around here for a while since we not only use cartridge filters for our welding, plasma and grinding operations, but 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 and below is a list of questions and answers that we came up with regarding the topic.

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Q: Does cleaning your filters 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 that have been tested in a laboratory. We cannot offer an emission statement once they have been 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; freight, damaged filters from shipping and handling, labor, storage for a spare set of filters, clean up from excessive handling of dirty filters, pre mature failure to your HEPA filters from less efficient filters, etc… If you take a 10 cartridge dust collector and estimate the cost of new filters to be $2,000 and start subtracting the costs listed above you might have a hard time justifying it.


Q: Is there a danger that re-installing your cleaned used cartridge filters could harm your employees or cause a negative impact on your operation?
A: Most cartridge filters today are designed to 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 or the filter media. This can fracture the substrate especially if there is a NANO fiber 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 othe r than the cleaning system that is supplied with the dust collector, our emission statement no longer applies and cannot be used for DEP / OSHA permits.


Q: Is it necessary to use a cartridge 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 is done while the system fan is running and can be either continuous or set to clean at a certain differential pressure. The offline cleaning feature is the most effective method of cleaning. This type of cleaning is done once the main system fan is shut down allowing 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 that can be added to any dust collector with a reverse pulse cleaning system to give you this added benefit.