Wet/Dry vac for outdoor cleanup?

I do a lot of sweeping of my sidewalk and parking area in front of my townhouse to remove leaves and other debris. In the fall I have to repeatedly remove an accumulation of leaves from underneath the outdoor condensor unit of my heat pump (an early 80's York champion). The vacuum effect of the condensor fan sucks up every leaf in range and plasters them beneath the condensor coil blocking air flow through the coils.
Would a small wet/dry vac work well for this type of cleanup? They are typically promoted for indoor shop use. But why couldn't you use them outside (in dry weather of course). Home Depot has a 6 gallon RIDGID unit model WD0635 for only $39.97. I'm thinking of picking one up for this type of minor outdoor cleanup.
Has anyone used a wet/dry vac for this purpose? If so how well did it work? Or is this a bad idea for some reason I'm not aware of?
Thanks for any opinions or suggestions.
Warren
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During the mother's day floods in the N-east a couple years ago I ran to HD and there were only a couple wet dry vacs left. So I purchased this one http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/WD5500-Wall-Vac/index.htm It has been used extensively since. It has a 5 gal capacity which I find to be fine for me. Hangs on the wall in the garage on its own "dock".. Has done all the dirty jobs (wet and dry) I' needed done. It can be fitted with its own casters (but are not removable and will disable it from being hung on the wall). Comes with 12 feet of hose (standard and a bit on the stiff side) and 7 feet of the very pliable type mounted on a handy side mount. (I have since purchased a 10 foot length of the "Pro Hose") Also comes with a little gizmo so you can attatch the various hose extnders nozzles etc. This looks good but falls off in practice. Works great as a blower as well, with a directional manifold to direct the exhaust air. Easily carried in one hand For the money it was a great investment............Doc
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On Thu, 20 Sep 2007 14:01:54 -0400, wgd wrote:

If a shop vac will suck up water safely (which most do) then you can suck leaves up with it.
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Using it outdoors, but not in the rain, is no problem.
To suck up leaves, you will want the big (2"?) hose. You may find that the leaves get sucked up against the inside hose wall and don't always pass through easily or quickly, but it should do the job.
Bob
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Bob F wrote:

Would a leave blower work?
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Moe Jones
HVAC Service Technician
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through a small tube- my leaf blower works great as a blower, but when I plugged it together in vacum mode, I found it would only pick up a dry leaf or two at a time, and you had to shove the tube right down on it. After ten minutes, I gave up and went back to blowing and a rake. Before I bought the blower, I also tried using my shop vac as a blower- just didn't have the oomph. One sucks well, the other blows well, and the overlap area where the twain meet is rather small. Note that the tractor and truck mounted leaf vacs have HUGE hoses, 6-8 inches and larger.
2nd benefit- I don't have a convenient place to keep a real snow blower (and only need one 3-4 times a winter lately, knock on wood), but I find that for dry snow less than 3-4 inches, the leaf blower does a good job of clearing that, too. Not much faster than hand shoveling, but much easier on the back. The neighbors point and laugh, but the hell with them. (With a flat driveway, I would ignore light snowfalls and let the sun clear it, but with the slope I have, if I don't clear it, I can't get back up it....) For the fifty bucks I paid, I'm more than happy with the leaf blower.
I'd say an entry-level blower, plastic rake, pushbroom and scoop shovel, would be the toolkit of choice for OP. I also got a nice wheelbarrow/garden cart, but OP said townhouse, so I presume he has nowhere to dump leaves other than trash can or communal dumspter. I have a back corner by the fenceline where I pile the leaves and branches, to create a place for the small animals to set up housekeeping over the winter.
aem sends...
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I use my 16 gallon shop vac to clean up the leaves in my wife's flower/ rock gardens. I found that the debris would clog the Y-diverter inside the motor housing, so I just remove the three screws and take it off. The filter gets dirtier quicker, but it's better than getting on my hands and knees and removing the leaves manually. If the 2" hose gets clogged, I simply remove it from the vac, turn it around and stick it back in. It sucks the stuff right back out the way it went in.
I once used the shop vac to dig a hole big enough to bury a 55 gallon drum as a dry well. I started to dig the hole with a shovel, but you can't dig down very far without also getting wider at the top. I used my shop vac hose to shave the walls of the hole straight down, emptying the container onto a tarp whenever it got filled up. When I was done I had a hole just slightly larger than the 55 gallon drum, which I just dropped into the hole and covered with a grate.
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on 9/20/2007 9:36 PM DerbyDad03 said the following:

Could never do that in the Hudson Valley, a former glacial plain. Clay and rocks do not vacuum up very well. :-) Even those small tillers just bounce across the ground, and let's not mention that cordless drill tiller that ol' Billy Mays advertises on TV. My dirt would just tear the blades off that $19 thing (which includes a cordless drill). :-)
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Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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I suspect others are right about a blower being more effective, but worth a try. Years ago I moved into a house which had been set up with several gravel paths by previous owners, an older couple. How my kids and their friends loved to throw handfuls of that gravel all over the lawn...but I liked the paths and didn't want to get rid of them, though I considered it. Small shop vac was the salvation of my sanity...just.
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Thanks for the opinions and suggestions. Since the Home Depot wet/dry vac I'm considering is cheap I think I'll pick one up and give it a try for outdoor leaf/debris cleanup. Worst case I'll have another vacuum I can use for other things if it chokes on the outdoor stuff.
Warren
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replying to wgd, Emb wrote: I thought of that and I could not find a big enough nozzle to suck up the leaves. I am still looking.
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On Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 2:44:07 PM UTC-4, Emb wrote:

Even though we seem to have resurrected yet another decade old thread, I'll jump in.
I have been using a 16 gallon wet-dry vac for outdoor cleanup for well over 30 years.
The standard 2/5" hose - without any nozzle - is sufficient to pick up leaves, both wet and dry. You merely need to hone your technique so as not to try to pick up too many at one time. On occasion, too large of an attempt will cause the leaves to clump up end of the hose but all it takes is a slight movement of the clump with your hand and they will get sucked right in.
On rarer occasions, the hose itself may clogged with debris. When that happens I simply reverse the hose and let the vac suck the debris out.
I have 2 flexible hoses connected together and will use 0, 1 or 2 rigid pipes depending on where I am working. Two hoses mean less moving of the vac itself.
As an aside, I have very sandy soil and a wet-dry vac is a great tool for digging deep, straight walled holes. It's hard to dig a hole deep enough to bury a 55 gallon poly drum (dry well) with a shovel. The deeper you go, the wider you have to go to keep the sand on the shovel. With a wet-dry vac, you can shave the sides of the hole straight down for a perfect fit.
The same technique works for digging graves. My dog is in his favorite spot near the fire pit except that he's about 4' lower. I miss him.
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I've used my Ridgid WD1450 14 gallon vac a couple times outdoors.
One was to clean the paint chips out of the yard after we scraped down my in-laws siding. It worked great.
The second was to clean pine needles and other debris out of the gutters. I have an extension hose for my shop vac, so it reaches the gutters easily. The only issue I had doing that was the static buildup in the hose from all the pine needles and whatnot passing through the hose on a hot dry day. Every so often the hose would brush up against my leg and I would get a good zap. :) If I do it again, I'll wait for a more humid day.
Anthony Watson www.watsondiy.com www.mountainsoftware.com
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ancient discussion by now the heat pump has died of old age.
but putting some hardware cloth in front of the unit might prevent the leaves from getting under it
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