If we examine the physics of vacuums and water, we will find that it is impossible to suck up water with vacuum cleaners.
However, there are methods which allow us to separate water from something else. So, instead of asking if a vacuum can suck up water, we should ask why can’t one suck up water. Then, we will find the answer.
So how does it work? When we suck something up with a vacuum, we are actually pulling it in with the force of atmospheric pressure combined with some extra oomph from the pump itself. You can think of vacuums as really powerful pumps which push outside air into themselves to help us clean out our homes or cars more easily . That’s model to clean out your why pull so hard sometimes – they are actually pulling lots of air in with them to help us clean.
There is one more thing, though; when we suck in air, we are also sucking in other things which are in our way. Because the vacuum cleaner nozzle is so small and it has this fan inside like I mentioned before, there’s no stopping what it can suck up. That brings us back to the question at hand: why can’t we use a vacuum cleaner to suck up water?
So can you suck up water with a vacuum cleaners?
Well, let’s imagine that we stick the nozzle in water and turn on our vacuum.
As you suck, you will start noticing an increase in pressure inside your house or car.
Water is fairly smooth when it comes to molecules; in other words, the molecules are not really very thick when you look at them.
Because of this, water is stopped by surfaces pretty easily. The nozzle on your vacuum cleaner will have a certain amount of surface area which it can use to suck up things.
If there’s nothing in its way, it will continue to suck until atmospheric pressure overtakes it and you can no longer feel the suction.
If there is a thick substance in its way, like water for instance, it will take more work to get the water past that boundary to make up for the surface area it’s not using.
This means that if we manage to suck up some water with a normal vacuum cleaner, we would have to be pulling much harder than normal to make up for the fact that we are using a lot of surface area on the nozzle to suck water instead of air.
This is what happens when you stick your regular vacuum cleaner in a bucket full of water and turn it on. After a little while, you will notice that the suction starts to slow down because you are using up too much surface area from the nozzle sucking up water.
This is why you see a lot of advertisements for vacuums that say they will suck up anything!
They really do mean it because those models can also vacuum liquids, though not as efficiently as dry debris.
Will sucking up water damage my vacuum?
Most vacuum cleaners won’t be able to vacuum water effectively, therefore can’t be damaged by it.
If you use a Shop Vacuum you’ll be able to vacuum water up very easily. Wet dry vacuums such as the shop vac can handle large water spillages.
A wet vac won’t get damaged from excess water. In a traditional vacuum, it has potential although unlikely, to damage the electric motor or vacuum canister.
How does a wet dry vacuum work?
Wet dry vacs work by using a foam filter or paper filters inside. This allows water to pass through, but blocks debris.
A paper filter will be less effective compared to a foam version.
How do I vacuum water with a dry vacuum?
If you don’t have access to a wet dry vac or shop vacs, you can use a standard vacuum.
To do so, make sure you have the correct hose attachment first and use disposable collection bags if possible.
Try and cover the area with paper towels, to soak the bulk of the spillage.
Most vacuums are not built for water pickup and if water reaches the insides outside of the collection bag, it can cause problems, so it’s best to take care of the bulk with other means.
Small amounts of water is fine, but for large amounts you simply need to look into Shop Vacuums.