While the dust collector is on, it accumulates a thick coating of dust on the filter. This coating makes the motor work much harder to suck the air through the filter – and less air can get through. If you just take the time to shake down the filter every hour or two of operation, it will last longer, the motor will last longer, and the dust collector will keep your cabinet noticeably dust-free.
This is easy to do. The more expensive dust collectors provide a simple way to shake the dust off the filter. Bag-style collectors have a “shaker,” or a handle, that you shake vigorously, which actually shakes the bags. The cartridge types may have an air pulse cleaning system, where all you need to do is press a button and a blast of air pulses backwards through the filter to dislodge any dust.
It is equally simple to clean filters on smaller dust collectors. Just turn them off every hour or two of blasting and wait 30 seconds or so for the motor to stop turning. Then, lift the canister off the ground a couple of inches and bounce it lightly on the floor three or four times. This will shake the excess dust off the filter, and you can immediately resume working.
With either type of collector, you should empty the dust out of the unit once a week or so. This is true if you use the unit two to three hours a day, or more. You may be able to reduce that to once a month if you use the unit only a few hours a week. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, and always empty the dust into a plastic garbage bag. The dust is extremely fine and will get everywhere if you let it out in the air; it is safe to dispose of the dust in the bag in your garbage.
Some people feel that they should blow out their filter bags and cartridges with compressed air whenever they empty the dust out of the collector. This can be a really messy business, and should only be done if you are wearing a good quality dust mask with its own high-quality filter cartridges. If you are in a city, you may want to do this only in the dark of night since your neighbors will no doubt report you to the health authorities or will call the fire department, thinking your building is on fire. It is probably not necessary to do this if you keep up your regular maintenance of emptying the dust and shaking down the filters; however, you should always follow the recommended maintenance procedures from the manufacturer of your equipment.