Dust collector cleaning

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Dust collector cleaning

Postby jrairduct » Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:01 pm

Any one on here have any experience cleaning dust collector systems, particularly in pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities?
Jon S.
Paramus, NJ
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:47 am
Location: Paramus, NJ

Re: Dust collector cleaning

Postby John Bently » Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:51 pm


We have cleaned many different types of dust collection systems in manufacturing, food processing, chemical processing, etc.

Dust collectors are some of the easiest systems to clean because you can use the dust collection system for your vacuum so all you need is compressed air for your agitation. The facility is already collecting the dust and disposing of it during normal operations so you should not have to do that. If there are specific material hazards or disposal methods, the facility will have ways of dealing with them.

The typical dust collection system is set up similar to HVAC with a few differences. The duct work is usually round, it may have blast gates in it and air normally flows in one direction. Blast gates are closures that have a plate that slides like a door to close off certain areas of the system when not in use.

Our basic cleaning procedure would be to make sure the collector is operating and start at the farthest point and run our agitation through each branch run as we come to them, working our way to the collector itself. You will want to watch how the dust is moving as you go because conditions in the duct can change depending on what is being drawn into the system. As an example if you have light dust that may stick together if it gets damp and you have a source of moisture at some point near a system intake, the material may stick together and be heavily caked on interior surfaces. This might take more time to remove than if everything is dry. Moisture may enter the system if they have an intake that is near an area where they wash things or an outside door that is open most of the time. We cleaned a system that was used for collecting "grinding" dust from hand grinding steel tools. At certain points in the system the dust built up and "rusted" together. We had to slow down and break up rusty piles of dust.

One advantage of cleaning systems using compressed air is you can often clean a system without having to take it apart. If you do take things apart make sure you mark them so they go back together the same way. We use "Sharpie" markers and put lines across joints, including elbows joints, to make sure that they go back together the same way.

A very important factor when cleaning collection systems is knowing about the dust you will be working with. What is it and what are its properties? Is it inert, flammable or toxic? What will it do to you or your equipment? Food processing and woodworking may create dust that is flammable under certain conditions so precautions need to be taken to reduce the chance of sparks or something that may ignite the dust.

With pharmaceutical manufacturing I would be concerned with the type of drugs or chemicals being used and how they may affect you. Could the dust of a drug being made there be absorbed through your skin, while you are working or cleaning your equipment, and have a toxic effect. Could it be toxic if inhaled? What type of respiratory protection do you need? What symptoms would you want to watch for after you are done working and have gone home that may indicate exposure? One thing to remember is that in many situations when taking drugs, vitamins or other compounds, the actual dose you get may be very small compared to the chemical raw materials being used to make a certain product. Proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is important.

Also remember that there will be dust on top of the duct you will be cleaning. When agitating you may loosen material that might fall down off the outside of the duct. Do equipment or machines need to be covered or protected from contamination? You don't want to damage a million dollar machine or ruin a batch of product because some dirt or dust got somewhere it shouldn't have.

One of the selling points for the work is you can usually do the work faster than the customers employees and without having to disassemble the system. This can save them time and money.

Dust collection systems can be a good source of repeat business.

John Bently
Posts: 698
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:52 pm

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