In a recent article and video publication we discussed installing an Automated Dust Collection System.  In this article and video we installed a PVC “grounded” dust collection system into the shop.  PVC is very prone to generating a static charge when air is moving along the inside of it, along with charged particles of wood and other debris.  Think about combing your hair with a plastic brush.  The same thing is happening in your dust collection system, on a much larger scale.  This static can build up to the point where it arcs to ground unexpectedly.  With the right combination of materials and and oxygen levels, this can cause a dust fire or an explosion to occur.  Not something you want in your shop!

During the course of the article and video we talked about the importance of grounding, and how the grounding system for PVC works.  However, we didn’t really go into the grounding of the system to an actual ground source.  That’s what we’re going to discuss today.

Grounding Dust Collection

Let’s recap the basics of installing and grounding dust collection before we go on.  It’s a good recap, especially if you’ve not yet seen the video on installing the PVC grounded dust collection system at The Geek Pub shop.  The basic premise of grounding the system is to keep the air and PVC in constant contact with a ground.  There are numerous ways to do this.  In fact, if you were to choose a dust collection ducting of the metal variety (such as tin, steel, or aluminum), then grounding would already be inherent in the system simply by its basic composition as long as something is connected to the system that bridges it to ground, such as being connected to the dust collector at one end, or a metal table saw at the other end.

Grounding of insulated material such as glass, plastic, or PVC is accomplished by wrapping the pipe with a braided copper wire and attaching it an various points.  Many recommend running the wire on the inside of the pipe, or both wrapping the pipe and including a conductor in the center.

In The Geek Pub dust collection system, we wrapped the PVC pipe with braided copper ground wire kit.  At approximately every 48 inches the wire was terminated to a grounding lug via a 3/4 inch screw that penetrated to the interior of the PVC pipe.  In addition, blast gates are grounded by connecting a grounding lug to one the gates screws, or a dedicated grounding terminal if one is provided on the blast gate.  This provides a grounding mechanism for both the inside and outside air.

Connecting the Dust Collection System to Physical Ground

The most common piece of feedback or line of questioning I got on the previous article was around actual connection of the system to a physical source of grounding.  This is something that wasn’t covered in the video or article, but of course the best grounding solution in the world is of no value if it isn’t actually connected to ground!

Grounding your dust collection is easy. In The Geek Pub shop, I elected to connect my grounding system to physical ground at numerous locations:

  1. To the physical metal from of the dust collector itself.  My dust collectors frame (as all should be) is connected to the same ground as the A/C outlet and the machine’s motor.  There is a screw on the inlet pipe that is the perfect place to attach to.
  2. To the metal from of the permanently connected tools.  Each tool has a grounding lug on it, and should be connected to the grounding system of the dust collection system.
  3. To my Jet Air Filtration unit on the ceiling.  This grounds the system at the center point.  This doesn’t make the ground “better”, rather just increases redundancy.
  4. To a wall outlet.  I purchased a three-prong plug at the local home improvement center and connected the grounding system directly to the ground lug (leaving the other conductors un-touched and insulated).

Grounding Dust Collection is Important

Grounding dust collection is very important.  I’ve stressed this numerous times.  There are many grounding deniers out there.  Don’t be one of them.  A shop fire or PVC explosion is a very dangerous situation that will most likely result in loss of property and possibly life.  Grounding your dust collection system is easy and quick, and pretty inexpensive.  Don’t skip such an important step in your workshop!

Head over to Amazon and get your dust collection grounding kit.

Leave your Grounding Ideas in the Comments below!

If you have any additional ideas or experience on grounding dust collection systems, please leave it in the comments below so we can all learn!

10 Responses

  1. Smithfield

    I really like what you said on Reddit about about this. You’re right. There’s a 99.9% chance there will never be a dust fire in your shop. But for how cheap and affordable it is to install, who want to risk being the one dude it does happen to?

    And if that’s not a enough, a lot of cities require you to ground PVC ducting to pass inspections. California doesn’t even allow PVC. It’s banned statewide. You must used metal ducting!

    Reply
      • Keith Hanson

        If you ground your system and your duct runs between the floor joist can you still insulate around the pipe?

  2. Grumpy Old Woodworker

    I’ll tell you why a grounded my system! I grounded it because I got tired of getting my drawers shocked off every time I touched the damn thing! That static freakin hurts like a biotch!

    Reply
    • Mike Murray
      Mike

      Funny you say that. My DeWalt DW735 planer is like the static electricity king! I can always feel the static the closer I get to it and then zap! It shocks me as I touch the outfeed table.

      Reply
      • John

        It’s funny you mention that, I was looking up a way to ground my dust collection system (nothing fancy one of the 5 gallon buckets with a special lid attached to a shop vac) and came across this article and comment. I got blasted taking the lid off of the bucket yesterday while using it with….

        A DW735 planer.

        I assume I can ground the tubes and bucket in a similar fashion? Hardest I’ve ever been shocked in my life so I don’t want to repeat it!

  3. Andrew

    Thanks for your input on grounding the dust collection system. I’ve been doing a lot of searching for how to do mine, as I get ready to build it. I think people are stupid for not grounding it. I do have a question for you. My system is going to be run mostly of clear flex tubing with PVC fittings. My collector is a metal trash can sitting on the concrete floor. Should I ground it off to something else? Or will it work as its own ground. I do have the main home water line I could ground it to but nothing else near by, being an unfinished basement.

    Reply
  4. Chris Rice

    Mike,
    I have a small shop and have built a dust separator out of a plastic trash can and lid. I don’t have stationary pipes for dust collection, but I think it would be good to add a grounding wire to the trash can. I’m thinking of running a coil of wire inside the trash can (wrapping it around some screws to secure it). To make the can portable I was going to attach both ends to the same ground screw (green screw) in a plug alone and plug into the wall. Do you see any issues with that or should I attach one end to the DC and the other end to a plug?

    Reply

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