What’s Wrong With My Reversible Drum Vac? Most Likely – Nothing.

If you need to clean up spills, pump out a sump, or basically just move liquid from one place to another, the EXAIR Reversible Drum Vac is what you’re looking for.  The Model 6196 Reversible Drum Vac System is all you need to turn a closed top steel drum into a powerful two-way pumping system. They’re reliable (no moving parts), durable (stainless steel construction), safe (no electricity), they install quickly, they’re compact, and portable. They’re also very low maintenance…in fact, if you supply the Reversible Drum Vac with clean air, it’ll run maintenance free, darn near indefinitely.

That’s not to say things can’t go wrong…Murphy’s Law still applies…but most anything that can go wrong with the EXAIR Reversible Drum Vac can be identified fairly easily, and remedied fairly quickly. Here’s a rundown of “the usual suspects:”

  • Vacuum leaks.  Even small leaks can be a big problem…a crack or split in the hose, a worn hose cuff, a damaged seal, even a hairline crack in the drum or lid…if air can enter anywhere other than the suction end of the hose, vacuum performance can suffer.  The first thing to do in most any troubleshooting procedure is a visual inspection, and the Reversible Drum Vac is no exception.  We stock the gaskets for the vacuum hose quick connect, as well as the drum lid seals.
Make sure the gasket is clean, in good condition                  The hose cuff should fit snugly on the quick connect
and properly seated.                                                                                             elbow’s barbs.
Pay particular attention to drum lid penetrations.               The drum itself can also be susceptible to corrosion.
All EXAIR Industrial Vacuum drum lids come with an EPDM seal glued in place. If it gets rolled (center) or damaged (right) it’ll need to be replaced to ensure optimal vacuum performance.
  • Compressed air supply, part 1. There are some tight passages in the  Venturi chamber inside the Reversible Drum Vac; this is how the vacuum is generated.  Any contaminants such as dirt or rust can accumulate in these passages, hampering the ability to draw its rated vacuum levels.
    Actual photos of dirt, debris, and contamination we’ve found in Reversible Drum Vacs sent in for Factory Refurbishment Service (ask an Application Engineer for details.)

    Use of a Filter Separator (like our Model 9004 Automatic Drain Filter Separator) with a 5 micron particulate element is recommended.  If the Reversible Drum Vac does get dirty inside, though, it can be cleaned pretty easily…here’s a video that walks you through the process:

  • Compressed air supply, part 2.  The Reversible Drum Vac will produce rated performance when supplied with compressed air at 80psig.  Make sure you can get enough air to it; if your supply line is too long and/or too small in diameter, you’ll get line loss…and poor performance. Use a 3/8″ ID compressed air hose, or a 1/2″ ID if it’s longer than about 10 feet, and avoid any restrictions like quick connect fittings.
  • Compressed air supply, part 3.  If you want to fill the drum a little faster, you can increase the supply pressure to 100psig or so.  Too high of a supply pressure can actually degrade vacuum performance, though.  Excessive pressure can create enough flow to overwhelm the Venturi, hampering its ability to generate vacuum.
  • Safety Shutoff Valve Float.  The Reversible Drum Vac provides overflow prevention via a plastic float that rises when the drum is full.  This breaks the vacuum so that no more liquid can be pumped into a full drum.  When the float rises, you’ll hear a change in pitch.  If you hear this, and the drum isn’t full, remove the Reversible Drum Vac from the drum lid and turn it upside down/right side up a few times.  The float should move freely, all the way from the bottom to the top of its chamber.  If it doesn’t, remove it and make sure the float, o-ring, and the inside of the chamber are clean.  Certain chemicals can cause the float and/or o-ring to swell, which will impede its free movement.  If the body of the Reversible Drum Vac is damaged (pro tip: don’t drop it) that can also cause the float to hang up and not work properly.
If the float doesn’t move freely, remove it (snap ring pliers not included,) clean and reassemble.

Like I said, these are just the first things you want to look for, and it’s highly likely you’re going to solve the problem before you reach the end of this list.  If your Reversible Drum Vac (or any EXAIR product) isn’t giving you the results you’re looking for, though, don’t hesitate to call an Application Engineer.  Chances are, the vacuum unit is just fine and just needs a fresh gasket, a little cleanup, or a new drum. We want to make sure you get the most out of our products.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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2 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With My Reversible Drum Vac? Most Likely – Nothing.

  1. I came to your site and have analyzed your post. There are excellent details you posted here. I enjoyed reading your blog, and it is both instructional and enjoyable.

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