Searching this group for the old "soot in loft" problem has turned up
a recommendation for the Earlex Combivac (seems to be about 39 quid at
I've scooped up most of the soot by hand (slowly to stop it spreading
too much) and I would like to get rid of as much as possible of the
Does anyone have first hand experience of this sort of job? Does much
soot get blown about by vacuuming? I assume that soot is not
considered an "explosive dust" (Earlex say not to use the Combivac
with coal dust).
I would think that soot is probably quite similar to coal dust - unburnt
carbon particles plus tar etc.
Soot certainly burns on a fire.
OTOH flour is an 'explosive dust' - most have probably seen the demo where
flour is blown into a tin which contains a lit candle, and the lid blows
off. The occasional flour mill has blown up as well.
Fine sawdust must also be flamable, if not explosive.
I would have thought that any vacuum cleaner would suck up soot in much the
same way that it dealt with anything else - about to find out as a load of
soot has fallen down the chimney and I am having difficulty opening the flap
on top of my log burner because of the soot on top.
Let us know how you get on :-)
Actually soot is a problem for vacuum cleaner bags because soot particles
are extremely small and sticky. If they don't clog the bag very quickly,
they are passing right through it. I would suggest doing two things...
Don't empty the bag before sucking up soot -- the dust in the bag will
trap some of the soot making the bag last longer, and if your vacuum
cleaner has an outlet which can be coupled to another hose, do so and
dangle the end of the outlet outdoors so you don't just blow the soot
which passes through the bag into the air inside the house. The bag will
be wrecked by the soot and you will have to replace it afterwards.
(Don't even think of using a vacuum cleaner with a permanent fabric bag,
soot will go straight through it and wreck it;-)
I did this a few years ago. Not sure it was soot, though. There was
a thick layer of black dust throughout the loft, but I assumed it was
slate-dust from the roof. How would soot get up there? Anyway, i
removed it because it was somehow leeching through the ceiling giving
a nice stripey effect.
The Earlex was fine for the job. But I recommend ear defenders. It
is the noisiest DIY tool I possess. And wear a dust mask.
Ben Edgington <><
Note that email to firstname.lastname@example.org is discarded. However,
bore hose kit is a good choice, and attach it to the outlet port in
place of the elbow it cuts the noise down enormously. I no longer wear
ear defenders when using my Eearlex by itself, and my orbital sander now
makes more noise. The Wickes version of the hose will do.
School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Scotland
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