Should You Clean or Replace Your Dust Collector Filter?

A dust collector filter is an integral component used in filtration systems. As with any product, filters have an expected performance life that affects their efficiency. This is especially true of baghouse or cartridge-style filters frequently used in industrial-scale filtration systems. All filters are engineered to collect, capture, and separate a heavy load of particulates, dust, and fumes from the air at processing, production, and manufacturing facilities and plants. Such industrial-grade filters must perform with a high level of efficiency at all times to ensure a healthy, safe workplace and to prevent pollutants from entering the atmosphere during commercial and industrial processes. 

A properly functioning dust collector filter will effectively capture and remove dust and airborne particles from the air. When too much dust accumulates on your filter, airflow is disrupted and filtration efficiency is reduced. To ensure better air quality in your facility, greater productivity for staff, and to reduce maintenance of machines and equipment used in production processes, filters need to be monitored, subject to routine inspection, and replaced when the service life of the filter has been reached. 

How Long Do Dust Collector Filters Last?

The service life of any dust collector filter is relative to the filtration system and the operation in which it is employed. In other words, because the type of filter media and volume of dust generated and collected can vary widely from facility to facility, a filter may last well over a year or only a few months. Either-or, no matter the type of filter media used, it’s important to note that the filters do not last indefinitely and should be changed at manufacturer-suggested intervals. 

When Should a Dust Collector Filter Be Replaced?

It stands to reason that the more particulates and dust generated by a facility, the quicker a filter will become loaded and need to be replaced. Expect to change filters more frequently in facilities with high volumes of dust, particles, or fumes produced from high-speed production processes or in facilities that generate coarse or fibrous particles during production processes. Filters can also clog more quickly in facilities that produce wet, oily or greasy particulates. 

Eventually, all filters will become overloaded with dust and particulates or become damaged and need replacement. Whether a baghouse or cartridge system, when the filter media is fully depth-loaded or filter blinded as it is referred to, the media must be changed. Otherwise, as the dust has so thoroughly penetrated the filter, sufficient airflow is prevented from being pushed through the filtration system and the air cannot be cleaned. Damaged filters such as those subjected to too much moisture or excessive heat can cause the filter to lose its dimensional stability and fail to collect the dust. Abrasive dust, over-pulsing, or damaged filter frames may cause premature wear and filter failure.

How to Determine When to Replace Your Filter

In such circumstances, a physical inspection of the filter would clearly indicate that it is clogged or damaged somehow. In actuality, however, a differential pressure (dP) reading of the system would show early on when it is time for a filter changeout. The dP reading would be part of the regular monitoring and maintenance schedule. The system dP readings are a bellwether for if the system is functioning efficiently or not. A sudden pressure drop would indicate a damaged filter. A high reading is indicative of filter blinding—that the depth-load of the filter is at a maximum and must be changed.

If you are considering whether you should clean or replace your dust collector filter, the short answer is replacement. Dust collector filters should be replaced at manufacturer-suggested intervals at the very least, and never cleaned and reused. This is especially true if the filter media does not appear to be damaged in any way. Polyester, cellulose, or corrugated filter material is not manufactured for high-pressure cleaning. Doing so will create holes or tears that may not be visible to the naked eye but will still allow dust particles to go through the filter without being captured by the material. Such dust can build up in the clean air plenum and keep blowing out into the facility even if you believe the filters have been “cleaned.” 

Though it may seem that once the filters are clean and the differential pressure reading appears “normal,” the system is functioning as designed. But in reality, the lower dP may be a false reading related to contaminated air passing through the tiny holes created by repeated cleaning of the material.  

Changing out old filters for new ones as scheduled is simple preventive maintenance that will save downtime and costly system repairs. As a safety measure, it will limit the risk of exposing workers in the facility to hazardous dust and reduce the potential for combustible fires or explosions. By monitoring the system, the dust collector filter will perform at the high level of efficiency as designed and help ensure a healthy, safe workplace and environment. 

To learn more about our dust collector maintenance services and our industrial dust system products, please contact us at CPE Filters today.