Can a Shop Vac Get Rained On? (4 Factors!) + What to Do?

Does a Shop Vac Get Rained On

Leaving electrical equipment such as vacuum cleaners, washers, dryers, and dishwashers outside is not something you can do every day. The same goes for vacuum cleaners. But how about Shop-vacs?

If you are wondering whether you could leave your shop vac under the rain without worries, or your shop vac has already been rained on and you are thinking of what to do, this article will give you a clear insight into these things.

Can a Shop Vac Get Rained On?

It is specifically written in the user manual to store shop vacs indoors and not expose them to rain. Whether or not your shop vac can tolerate rain, or get damaged is determined by several factors such as; type, length of exposure to rain, the intensity of the rain, and if the rain was just falling off it or got pooled under it.

Tolerance of Shop Vacs to Rain

The factors mentioned above affect the way your shop-vac handles rain. We will now go through these factors in detail:

1- Type

There are basically two types of shop vacs, the dry and the wet-dry.

The wet-dry is designed to pick up wet messes from surfaces, and can also suck water from a pool. The dry one strictly clears dry debris and can get damaged if used for wet surfaces.

This to a large extent, determines how a shop vac will tolerate being rained on, as one is built to tolerate water while the other is not. Therefore, a Wet-dry shop vac will be at a lesser risk of damage if it is exposed to rain.

2- Length of Exposure to Rain

Minimal exposure to rain is well tolerated by most shop vacs as this can be easily dried off the body.

However, if left for longer periods, depending on the intensity of the rain, the shop vac may or may not get damaged. This can be better understood by looking at the next factor.

3- The Intensity of the Rain

Rain intensity can either be light, moderate, or heavy.

So, if the shop vac was exposed to light or moderate-intensity rain for longer periods, it has lower chances of damage than when exposed to heavy rain for even shorter periods.

This is because the weight of heavy rains enables it to pool, seep through and get to the motor of the shop vac.

4- Fall-off or Pooled Rain?

This is a very strong factor that determines what happens to a shop vac when it gets rained on.

If it was left on a platform that just allows the rain to fall through, there is a better chance of recovery than if it was left on a platform that collects water, therefore pooling and submerging the shop vac in water.

This causes the inward units to soak in water and malfunction, or not be able to operate at all.

What Happens to a Shop Vac When It Gets Rained On?

When a shop vac gets rained on for prolonged periods, the water seeps through and gets into the bearings of the motor, damaging it. The brushes and capacitors can also get damaged through this.

1- If the water is left in for a long time without drying, some of the metallic components of the shop vac start to form rusts.

2- Other times, patches of water evaporation residue can also be formed on the components.

3- If there was dust piled in the filter, it could mix with the water, forming congealed masses that clog the filters, making it difficult to vacuum.

What to Do When Your Shop Vac Gets Rained On?

If your shop vac gets rained on, please do not try to operate while it is still wet, or try to operate with wet hands.

You can take the following steps:

1- If there is minimal risk of rain seeping through, you can prop the vac on a wall upside down and leave for a day.

2- If there is a high chance that water has seeped into it, take the parts apart.

3- Check for moisture, water residues, and corrosion.

4- Thoroughly dry the inside of the shop vac to get rid of any moisture.

5- Use alcohol to get rid of the water residues, and lubricate the bearings on the motor with oil or grease to help with corrosion.

6- You might have to replace the motor or get a new shop vac if the steps above prove futile or, contact the manufacturer for assistance.

Can You Use a Shop Vac Outside? (8 Outdoor Uses)

Beyond the workspace and other indoor uses, a shop vac has very important uses outside. You can buy different filters and hose attachments to fit your purpose.

The shop vac is not waterproof and therefore should not be used while it is raining. It is also not advisable to use any electrical object in the rain to avoid electrocution.

Some of the outdoor uses of shop vac are:

1- Vacuuming outdoor shops, especially as they get easily wet, and shop vac is equipped to also vacuum water.

2- Cleaning out driveways, sidewalks, and lawn by suctioning dirt or snow, or by blowing leaves to the yard, or sucking it up the shop vac.

3- Blowing off bugs from outdoor furniture or plants in the garden.

4- Cleaning pools and ponds, and unclogging their drains.

5- Taking out ash from outdoor grills. Please do not do this with hot ash. There are also specific filters built for this reason.

6- Inflating rafts and children’s pool floats.

7- Cleaning out debris from gutters.

8- Cleaning out cars.

How Do You Dry a Shop Vac?

Drying a shop vac can come in two ways:

1- Drying a wet-dry vac after wet use
2- Drying a shop vac that has been rained on

Generally, before cleaning a shop vac, please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Drying a Wet-Dry Shop Vac after Wet Use

You want to make sure the vac is thoroughly dried before storage, or before the next dry use to avoid dirt sticking to and clogging the paper filters.

This requires a simple process:

STEP 1: Disassemble the shop vac, releasing, the motor assembly from the lower tank, then take out the water hose and filter.

STEP 2: Clean the hose and tank with warm soapy water and rinse them. Use a dry cloth to wipe them down, making sure not to leave any moisture behind. Or you can leave it to drain and air dry thoroughly.

STEP 3: If You Used the Paper Filter for the Wet Use (Though not advisable), run an air hose through it, or run water through and dry with a hairdryer, or leave it to air-dry for about 24 hours.

STEP 4: For the foam filter, rinse thoroughly with water, squeeze the filter with your hands to remove as much water as possible, then tap both ends of the filter housing removing as much water as you can.

STEP 5: Leave on a warm flat surface and air-dry for a day or use a hairdryer if you cannot wait 24 hours. Simply turn the hairdryer on low and keep moving on all sides, four inches away till it’s thoroughly dried.

Avoid increasing the heat of the dryer or placing the dryer steadily on a particular part to avoid damaging the filter with heat.

Warning: Never dry your filters with a microwave or clothe dryer to avoid damage.

Note: Do not put back the filter into the shop vac until it is completely dry.

Drying a Shop Vac after It Has Been Rained On

If there is minimal water seepage, you can lean it on a wall upside down and leave it for a day, as earlier mentioned.

But if this is not the case, a more thorough drying would have to be done using the steps already mentioned above. The hairdryer is a very handy tool to use for this process.

If in the end, it doesn’t work, some parts like the motor might have been damaged and need to be replaced.


Even though you can use a shop vac outdoors, it is not advisable to store it outdoors; or let it get rained on, especially for prolonged periods.

Sometimes you can get away with your shop vac getting rained on, by a few drying steps and some cleaning here and there. But at other times, it might require more complex corrective maintenance; or even a total replacement which would cost money.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top