I had been using a Craftsman wet/dry vac that was very old. How old I don't know, since it was my grandfathers. That old Craftsman worked fine, vacuuming up what I needed it to. The only rub was that it was so old that getting filters was getting tougher and tougher as Sears had changed over to "red stripe" filters and discontinued the vac's that took "blue strip" filters (like the one I had). Add on to that I did not want to drive 20 miles to my nearest Sears nor pay shipping and handling on a vacuum filter. I did my research and this Rigid Professional 14 Gallon Vac seemed to be everything I'd ever want in a wet dry vac.
Recommend this product?
Why I bought this vacuum
I started my search for a replacement with a few things in mind, I did not want to drive a long way to get a new filter. It appeared that there are Home Depot's and Lowe's everywhere (five closer to my house then the nearest Sears) and a lot of local hardware stores sell replacement filters to Shop Vac brand vacuums. I found out that Shop Vac makes a vac just for Lowes, likewise, Rigid exclusively makes them for Home Depot. I also wanted a vac with a little muscle (i.e. horsepower) and one that could hold enough dirt or water that I could keep vacuuming when needed (like those times the washing machine overflows). After limiting the field based on these general requirements, the number one reason I settled on this Rigid vacuum over any others was the warranty. I found out that the similar Shop Vac brand model at Lowe's had only a five year warranty. This Rigid model was a lifetime warranty. If I'm going to spend $100 on a piece of equipment and all other things equal, I'll always take the lifetime warranty.
Other features making this vacuum worth owning
I find that the tool bag that attaches to the vacuum itself to be worthwhile overall. I've bought a lot of nozzle tools for vacuums in the past because I would lose them so the on board storage is a real plus, it will probably end up saving me money. This vacuum is advertised as being extra quiet; seriously I did not consider that when I was looking for a vacuum. I now realize the Craftsman I replaced was really, really, really loud in comparison (I do not think words can adequately describe the true difference). Coincidentally, at 6 Hp I was afraid that the exhaust would be coming out the back at such power and force that I would be making more of a mess then cleaning up with this vacuum, I therefore bought the Rigid 2 1/2" Noise Muffler for $13 to reduce the air power out of the exhaust. Obviously this helps keep the vacuum even quieter. It also completely stops direct discharge of the exhaust air, so my purpose for buying this accessory was met. Finally, both the hose and power cord seem very long, I appreciate this so that I can get everywhere I need to in a big area, I have not found that they are excessively long. Also, the hose clips into the vacuum, so it doesn't come out if you have to pull the vacuum towards is (the vacuum is on wheels).
Observations when in use
Out of the box, this is easy to put together, it comes with a filter which is great, all you have to do is put the caster wheels in. I found that it took a little force to get them in, but with the right amount of force, you'll notice them pop right in. Finally, putting the on board storage bag on takes no effort (unfortunately, it takes no effort to remove too).
I recently replaced the carpet in my living room with solid hardwood. That is the kind of job where you put a vacuum like this to the test. I used this vacuum extensively while doing this job. First, removing the carpet revealed that it was a virtual sand box underneath from fine particles that worked their way underneath the carpet. The Rigid vac had no problem vanquishing all of this debris. Next, I found the subfloor needed a little sanding to true it up to being very flat. I found a generic attachment that goes from the 2 1/2" diameter of the vacuum hose to 1 1/4" that my belt sander's exhaust was. With that accessory I had no problem hooking this vacuum to my sander's exhaust, it really was a good call on my part, I had no dust later on to clean up or get on surfaces where I didn't want it. Next came cleaning up where my table saw was while I cut hundreds of boards to length. This vacuum never stopped, everything was cleaned up perfectly. Finally, all the hardwood was down and I needed to clean up to show my wife the final product, with very little time, this vacuum helped make me look like a champ in front of the boss.
Things I don't like about the Rigid 14 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac
As I previously mentioned, the on board storage bag, while a great feature, does pull out very easily, it just sits in to holders. This really isn't that big of a deal, nobody is lifting the vacuum up by this, I would just feel better if it were more secure. I also wish the vacuum would have come with a dusting brush. Out of the box it comes with three nozzle attachments and two extension wands. I know I can buy one for $8, but when you are already spending $100 on the vacuum, having to buy an extra "standard" attachment at the time of purchase only means you get extra questions to justify buying the vacuum in the first place from you wife. Also, the base where the caster wheels are attached has two storage locations for the extension wands, I really like this feature, but these locations could really do a better job of holding the wands more securely. Half the time they fall over on their own, the other half of the time they fall over because I bumped into them; the wand storage has some real room for improvement.
What I can't comment on
I have yet to use this vacuum for any wet clean up in the 6 months I've owned it. I expect it to perform in this area like it has with dry clean up, but I can not provide a valid review of this feature.
I really like this product and would recommend it to a friend, the construction is solid, the warranty is a deal breaker, and it works fabulously. If you are like me, you are reading this because obviously you do your homework before you make a major purchase, good luck!
The technical specifics can be found at the Home Depot website for this product (I've also sprinkled them through out my review), currently list price is $99.99 which is what I paid when I purchased. Here are some of the important specs:
6 Hp Motor
14 Gallon Tank
20 ft cord
7 ft hose
3 nozzles (wet pick up, general use, car)
2 extension wands
Limited Lifetime Warranty
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Amount Paid (US$): 99.99