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RRPedia has been created by Shawn McCadden to help remodelers and others affected by the New EPA Renovation Repair and Painting Rule. 

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How to Safely Use a HEPA Vacuum and Change a Contaminated Bag

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 @ 01:09 PM

Hepa Vac


The EPA RRP Model Certified Lead Renovator Courses do not address one of the critical tasks for an renovation project:  How to use and maintain the HEPA vacuum.  But if a renovator gets this wrong, then HEPA may not help cleanup dust.  Worse, it could spread dust and cause contamination and poisoning. 


Some suggestions:

  • Cleaning:  If the filter - whether the HEPA filter or the prefilters - gets loaded down with dust and debris, the HEPA vacuum will not move enough air to properly and efficiently collect lead dust and lead debris from the renovation. The renovator must periodically clean the vacuum and replace the prefilter - and depending on the design - the HEPA filter. 

  • Sealing: Before you turn off a HEPA vacuum, you need to cover the end of the air intake home with tape or bag the beater bar.  If you don't do this, the dust and debris in the hose will fall out and recontaminate the workplace or be released in the truck or someone else's home.  When you need to use the vacuum, turn the vacuum on and then remove the tape or bag.  Remember, when the unit is turned off, the air intake openings must be sealed.

  • Training: When training workers consider the following:

    • Consider adding a demonstration about HEPA vacuum cleaning to the training.  Allow traineees to open up a HEPA vacuum and see how it works. 

    • Consider having the trainees practice with a new unused HEPA vacuum so you can observe and help them.  Make sure it has not been used and contaminated with lead. 

    • Watch the trainees during hands-on exercises to make sure they seal up the vacuum when it is turned off.  If they forget, dump the debris and dust on the cleaned up workplace for a great visual and have them reclean.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services developed this great two-page fact sheet on "How to Safely Change a Lead Contaminated HEPA Vacuum Bag." They use a common canister vacuum to show how to change the prefilter.

How to change a HEPA Vac bag 

change a hepa vac bag 

Use the following link to view and/or download the fact sheet to your computer: How to Safely Change a Lead Contaminated HEPA Vacuum Bag

Topics: HEPA Vac Info, Worker Training, Production Considerations, Work Practices, Personal Protection, Tools and Supplies