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Re: GBlist: HEPA-filter vacuum cleaners

In a message dated 4/25/97 5:18:16 AM, Marc Rosenbaum wrote:

>--- You wrote:
>Several years back, J. Baldwin, the soft-tech editor at Whole Earth
>Review, did a review on the Miele vacuum cleaner. He lives in an old
>house, and claimed that the Miele improved his allergies a lot.
>--- end of quoted material ---
>My ability to vacuum my house without getting all stuffed up improved a lot
>when the Kenmore vacuum was replaced by a Miele.

This recent thread about HEPA vacuum cleaners has only dealt with machines
using filters or water baths.  Let me remind everyone that the air
disturbance caused by portable machines (as Hal Levine pointed out) causes a
great deal of turbulence, raising dust elsewhere in the room and contributing
to respiratory problems.  For instance the other day while cleaning under the
bed in our bedroom with my Miele, the exhaust stream caused a snowstorm of
dust from a wire sculpture attached to the ceiling.  No matter how great the
filter's capacity to capture fine particulate matter, the exhaust air stream
(albeit clean air as it escapes from the machine) attacks anything loose in
its path--strewing it into the air at a level close to the operator's nose,
not at the floor.

Therefore, an ideal way to remove particulate pollutants--particularly for
people with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory problems--is to use a
centrally installed vacuum cleaner with an exhaust stream ducted directly to
a safe location at the exterior of the building (well away from ventilation
inlets).  This elegant solution does not disturb the indoor air.  A side
benefit is that the remotely located motor is much quieter to operate inside
the building.  A long hose and well-placed outlets eliminate common problems
with portables, such as tripping over cords and accidentally damaging plugs
from reaching too far.  The operator handles a hose and attachments, not a
heavy, fragile machine which can tumble down stairs or damage furniture as it
drags across a room.  (I recently broke a pane of glass in a French door,
making a witless right turn with my Miele).  Removal of debris from the
cannister can take place in a garage or other convenient location.  Debris is
located away from habitable rooms, not dragged through the interior along
with the equipment.  (I noticed that even with my HEPA-filtered Miele, the
bag stinks when it gets full). 

Some disadvantages to central vacs as I understand them are: 
1.  Plastic pipes with solvents or adhesives can outgas.  (Stainless steel or
other types of pipe of pipe may be used).  
2.  Leaky pipes or joints can reduce suction, pollute interstitial spaces or
affect critical pressure differentials.
3.  Hard to reach pipe interior surfaces may support mold, bacteria, or other
contaminants from the stuff that passes through them.  
4.  Higher cost of installation (be sure to look at the long term effects of
bag and filter replacement, collateral damage, time savings, and the health
benefits of particulate removal)
5.  Cheaper models may not have enough suction or effective attachments.
6.  Small apartments or houses may lack appropriate space for installation.
 Crawl-space installations may be difficult to reach for service.
7.  Retrofits may involve disruptive disassembly and construction to

No I'm not a vacuum cleaner salesman.  How come I don't have a central vac

One thing I have done, lacking a central vac and needing a temporary
solution, is to use a long hose on a regular shop vac located outdoors on a
deck or porch--exhausting dust and air outdoors instead of inside the rooms.
 I still have to crack the door or window open enough to get the hose

David Kibbey, Environmental Building Consultant
1618 Parker Street
Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone/fax:  510-841-1039

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