Question about Shop Vac Vacuums

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We have a series 90S, 2.5 gallon Shop Vac. We used it for the first time to try and **** up water in the basement. Each time we turned it on, it would shut down after collecting less than 1" of water. We had to remove and squeeze out the foam sleeve each time, before it would work again (nowhere near 2.5 gallons!). Any ideas? Is the plastic sleeve that can move up and down inside, the float (poorest manual I've ever seen!)? Should there be a ball float that we're missing? Thanks for any suggestions.

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  • stonebri Oct 02, 2010

    Pwillitz: A follow-up question please. Should the cup-shaped float have the open end at the top, or pointing down to the bottom of the unit? Reading other questions/answers here, one of the Guru's answered a question about this by saying "It goes in with the open end facing up". If that's true, then our 'cup/float' was installed backwards -- as the open end faces the floor!



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Remove the foam sleeve when using the unit to pick up water. The float is in there to indicate when the unit has "enough" water in it. The float rises with the amount of water and when the water reaches a certain height the float is "pulled" up into the air exhaust hole causing a change in the sound of the unit. This is the audio indicator that it is time to empty the water. If the foam gets wet with water, it closes off the air almost like the float does and the suction of the unit is reduced.

Posted on Oct 02, 2010

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  • pwillitz Oct 02, 2010

    Not sure of the physical shape of this, but it should be installed so that it floats on the water and the convex portion can shut off the air port and stop the water from getting to the motor.
    The older models had solid balls in them to do this job.
    This is my hypothesis without having looked at the unit.

  • pwillitz Oct 02, 2010

    Parts blow up can be found here:

    Hard to tell from what I see, but I believe the cup would be in upside down so that water could not fill it and cause it to stay down. It would ride on top of the water due to the air pocket created.
    Make sense?

  • stonebri Oct 02, 2010

    Pwiilltz: Yes, I think that makes sense. Unless we can open it (it's not in front of me now), then the float was put in upside down at the factory...preventing the cup/float from rising. Thanks again for your help!

  • pwillitz Oct 02, 2010

    Just wanted to be sure you understood my comment.
    I believe the correct installation is with the open end down. In this form the air will be trapped inside of the cup and force the cup up so that it will shut the air off (sound of motor changes) when the unit is full of water.
    If the open end were up, it could fill with water and stay down.
    My opinion, your unit was installed correctly when built.

  • pwillitz Oct 02, 2010

    THANK YOU very much for the rating.
    Are you on the east coast by chance?
    Stay dry!

  • stonebri Oct 02, 2010

    Thanks for the clarification. I did misunderstand you and thought you were agreeing with the other 'Guru'. :-) We'll try your first remove the foam sleeve when picking up water... although in our manual under 'Wet Pick Up Operation", it says: "Wet pick-up requires the foam sleeve to be in position over the lid cage." So, I'm still a bit confused!


  • pwillitz Oct 02, 2010

    I don't mean to beat this to death, but I do find the problem interesting.
    When the vacuum sucks the air/water, at some point it becomes easier to lift the weight of the float and shut the pulling power of the vacuum down as the tank fills with water.
    As the foam gets saturated(?) with water, the same thing occurs and the float is lifted.
    It seems the foam is getting too wet and the pulling power of the vacuum will lift the lighter weight of the float and shut the pulling power down.
    I guess the real question is why is the foam getting so wet so fast?
    Is it the correct foam filter?
    I have two units that do not use any type of filter when lifting water. Perhaps the foam filter does act to keep any debris that might be found in the water from getting into the impeller/fan.
    Just a thought.

  • stonebri Oct 03, 2010

    Thanks much again for taking the time to share your knowledge. I don't know why the manual says to use the foam sleeve for wet pick-up, but then it's not much of a manual! :-) We'll give your suggestion a try next time it rains and we have water in the basement!

  • pwillitz Oct 03, 2010

    Did you lower my rating because I asked too many questions?

  • stonebri Oct 03, 2010

    You've got it....Allentown, PA! 8.2 inches at the airport.

  • stonebri Oct 03, 2010

    Although my wife purchased the machine 8 or 10 months ago, this was the first time she used it. So, the foam was what was in the original box.

  • stonebri Oct 03, 2010

    I couldn't seem to reply to your last post, below. New to the site, I didn't mean to lower your rating! I've hopefully corrected it now!

  • stonebri Oct 03, 2010

    Although my wife purchased the machine almost a year ago, this was her first use of the foam was original to the box.



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