Shop Vac Noise Reduction: How to Make a Shop Vac Quiet

Shop vacs have always been great to use for your own home or workshops. They are portable but much stronger than regular vacuum cleaners.

However strong they may be, they all have one downside; and that is that they are extremely loud.

If you happen to have used it in a somewhat empty space, like your garage or similar, you must have noticed how loud they are. It is just like they are echoing all around.

This just makes vacuuming very unpleasant.

Nevertheless, they are quite handy, so it would be the best if there was a way to somehow reduce the noise they are making.

Well, is there a way?

Of course there is, but you would have to keep in mind that machines as powerful as shop vacs can never be completely soundproofed, but the only thing you can do is reduce the noise they are making.

Before I tell you how to reduce the noise, let’s give a look at why they are this loud in the first place.

shop vac noise reduction

The Reason for Shop Vacs’ Loudness 

The loud noises the shop vacs create highly depends on the design of their engines.

Each of the vacuums has a huge fan inside that is spinning very fast and produces a lot of noise. These fans serve to push and suck the air out and in of your vacuum.

When you use something as powerful as a shop vacuum, the air is sucked and pushed out of the vacuum violently and it produces additional levels of noise.

Most of the noises coming from a vacuum cleaner are actually sounds of a vacuum’s fan.

How to Make a Shop Vac Quiet

Luckily, loud doesn’t mean more efficient when it comes to shop vacuum cleaners. There are vacuum cleaners that are rather quiet but can do the job just fine, so the final solution is always getting a new one.

But, before you consider this, let’s give a look at some cheaper solutions.

1. Using it in Open Spaces

As I mentioned at the very beginning, if you use your shop vac in a somewhat empty and small area, it is very likely that it will be much louder than it would be if it is used in open spaces.

Most of the noises the vacuum produces are of very high frequencies and they can multiply easily and produce an echo that makes them sound even louder than they are.

If you are, for example, using your shop vac to clean your car, like I am, you can use it on a driveway or in your backyard.

2. Getting a Longer Hose Attachment

If you are using your shop vac to clean something that is inside and you cannot pull the previous trick, there is something else you might try.

Since it is probable that the hose is very short, you are most likely standing somewhere just near the vac.

So, to save your ears from this tremendous noise you are experiencing, you can try and get a longer hose attachment (like this) and stay further away from the vac on your cleaning mission. 

This will not in any way make the vacuum cleaner quieter, but it will surely limit the noise that you are hearing.

3. Muffle the Exhaust Outlet

As I mentioned previously, a lot of noise is coming from the very intake and outtake of the air itself.

Since air is coming out of the vacuum cleaner through an air outlet, it would be efficient to find a way to muffle it.

You can find the vent the air is coming from during the use on the sides or (rarely) top of the vacuum. This is the air outlet, and it is giving you the headache.

This vent can be muffled by covering it with a piece of cloth.

However funny it may seem, there are proper ways to place the cloth so as not to hurt yourself or the vacuum cleaner.

  • Cut a few pieces of cloth according to precise measures of the air outlet.
  • Attach them to the vacuum.
  • Poke a few holes in them so that air can still go outside.
    If you cover it completely, the engine will start overheating and burn out eventually.
  • check
    Once you are sure that you have attached the cloths correctly, turn on the vacuum cleaner and see what happens.

If you have done everything correctly, the cloth should blow up, similar as a balloon would do.

This is a method that a few users came up with on a forum when they tried to make their vacuums quieter.

I personally have not tried out this method, but there are quite several users who said that it worked for them.

4. Clean the Air Filter Regularly

It is important that you check your filter before every use. It should always be clean, if not new.

This is something that we should remember to clean regularly, but sometimes we tend to forget.

Anyway, the air filter is the first place that the air and dirt with it would get stuck in. Its purpose is to catch the dirt from entering inside of the vacuum and saving its life.

In cases when you use the vacuum cleaner without a filter on or a dirty filter for that matter, the dirt will get to the inside of the vacuum and ruin it.

Most of the filters are reusable nowadays, so you can simply place them under a stream of water and clean it in no time.

Pay attention to the reinstalling of air filter; never do it while it is still wet, please. Wait for it to dry.

In case that you are using a vacuum that cannot have its filter cleaned, but uses only disposable ones, you should keep in mind to change it every now and then.

If the filter is dirty, your vacuum will have to use much more energy to suck air through it, and it can also lead to overheating and burning the engine.

How to Make a Shop Vac Quiet

5. Remove the Clogs

Have you ever noticed how much louder your vacuum cleaner gets when you cover the opening with your palm or when it gets stuck to a carpet?

This is because the engine is working at its full capacity, trying to get the air inside. The same thing happens when there are clogs somewhere inside of a vacuum.

You can easily detect if there are clogs if you just listen to your vacuum. It will tell you.

It would be just fine to disassemble the vac from time to time and clean all of its parts from these little clogs.

If you, however, do so, and the noise persists, you might take it to a professional to see what the problem is.

6. Purchase Headphones for Noise Cancelling

If you know that you will be using your vac for a longer period of time, you might consider purchasing noise-canceling headphones like this.

On the other hand, there is a downside to this method, since you will be the only one protected from the noise and the rest of people in the room will still be exposed to it unless they are wearing them too.

As you can imagine, this is not the best of solutions, so you might consider some other one of these.

7. Build an Enclosure for Your Vac

If you are somewhat of a handyman and you like crafting, this can be just the right project for you.

What you will need is:

The box that you will be making will have a door that can open for easy access to your shop vac; this is why you will be needing hinge and latch.

Here is the process of building:

  1. Measure the size of your vacuum cleaner – you will need this when cutting the wood;
  2. Cut the wood accordingly;
  3. Glue the foam panels to these pieces of board. You can do it with some green glue that is also known as soundproof glue;
  4. Nail the pieces together, foam on the inside, until you have just one more side left;
  5. Connect the hinge and the latch – this will be the door of your soundproof box;
  6. Make a cutout for the hose and a small one for ventilation;
  7. Attach the wheels.

As simple as that!

Pay attention to the vent opening, because if you forget to put that one, your shop vac can easily overheat inside of the box.

You can also install a vent on the box, and make sure that it will be breathing properly.

8. Buy a Quieter Vac Cleaner

And now, this is the last solution that I had to offer.

I know that buying a new vacuum cleaner is not on everyone’s priority list, but if you have a few bucks to give on a new shop vac, a quieter one, I am sure that you will be able to see the difference in no time.

We have compiled a list of the best quiet shop vacs here.

And, all of the steps that I previously mentioned will be much more effective if you are already using a fairly quiet cleaner.

On Shop Vac Noise Reduction

In the light of everything that I mentioned so far, we can say that shop vacs are really, really loud.

However, it is not impossible to fix it. Of course, you can never make it completely silent, but you can surely bring the level of noise down.

I hope that this helped!