Shop-Vac Meltdown

On Wednesday, February 8th 2006 at about 1p.m. my Shop-Vac decided to self-destruct.

I was using my Shop-Vac to vacuum the dust of the window frame I had just been sanding when it stopped sucking. I looked at it and it was shooting flames out of the motor vents. It then stopped. Rather than trying the switch, I just unplugged the thing. I noticed it was still smoking. When I looked inside, I saw it was still on fire. I went and got my camera to take some photos.

Not quite in focus, you can see the flame inside the vent. It was like this for a few minutes before doing anything more.


Here the flame melted through the top.


Most people would have grabbed a fire extinguisher at this point. I let it burn.


The whole motor housing is involved. By this point I had moved it off the patio, if only to keep the smoke away from the house.


Burning merrily away. A slight breeze kept it going nicely.


Back away a little bit... don’t want to get too many of those fumes.


The motor is about ready to fall in.


The motor caves in and the filter is burning.


It was at this point that I doused the flames. I took a quart watering can and just poured it on. The motor was still sizzling so I dumped a little more on it.


The hot motor melted through the side.


The molten debris.


I wanted to get another Shop-Vac (hey, it lasted eight years - right?), but Home Depot did not carry them. So I got a Rigid brand that was twice as powerful and the hose was twice as big but it was about the same size. Only thing I donít like about it is the filters are expensive.

One of my MGB forum cohorts suggested I tell the Shop-Vac company and see if I could get a free replacement. So, I sent off an e-mail with a link to this site. About a week later I got a reply from a woman who indeed wanted me to trade in the dead one. BUT as I had already got one, I suggested giving me $30 instead as I figured that would cost them less than sending me a new one, and she agreed.

So I boxed up the dead one and when I got the check I slapped the shipping label on and sent it off.