ITW, a company that owns a number of building and construction industry brands (see our corporate brand affiliations guide for more details), has come out with the BuildClean, a portable dust control system and air cleaner.
The BuildClean is essentially a giant filter that helps contractors better control airborne dust during remodeling and demolition projects.
It features a full 360° coverage and 2-stage filtration to help maximize fine and coarse particle collection. ITW says that the BuildClean can exchange the air in a 6,000 cubic foot room up to 6 times in an hour.
In terms of efficiency, the BuildClean is said to remove 90% of airborne dust generated in the remodeling process. The second stage is a HEPA filter that traps particles as small as 0.3µm with 99.99% efficiency.
The BuildClean air cleaner can be used in either of 2 modes – a recirculating mode where it exhausts clean air back into the room, or a negative pressure mode, where filtered air is ducted out a window. It also offers two speeds – 300 CFM and 600 CFM airflow.
ITW’s BuildClean marketing materials don’t explain the benefits of negative pressure mode, but negative pressure air scrubbers are typically used to help limit the spread of dust and contaminants beyond a room or workspace. With air being ducted outside, there will be lower air pressure in the room where work is being done. There will be airflow from surrounding rooms, where there is greater air pressure, towards where work is being done, and the air scrubber.
ITW doesn’t provide any pricing information (we’re working on finding this out), and the only way to buy a BuildClean unit is to go directly through them.
More Info(via ITW)
When positioned next to an ITW spokesman, the BuildClean appears much larger than I would have expected. Not that this is a bad thing, as it means there’s greater filtration capacity. The BuildClean air scrubber is still said to be lightweight, and it looks reasonably portable.
Personally, I prefer to capture dust when and where it’s created. For woodworking projects, this often means connecting a vacuum or dust extractor to the tool. I also have a compact air cleaner to help pick up dust that still makes it into the air.
Some contractors use vacuums and dust collection, but it’s often not enough. Others also use tools designed for low dust creation, such as by Festool. Others put up dust barriers.
ITW says that current dust-mitigation practices, such as cleaning up, using barrier walls, using vacuums, and using low dust building materials consume time, add cost, and are not effective. They say that remodelers’ primary method of managing dust is to manage homeowner expectations, emphasizing that no matter what actions are taken, construction dust will spread throughout their house.
From what I can tell and have seen, it doesn’t take a lot for one worker to minimize creation and spread of work dust throughout a room and house. It takes time and effort, but it’s possible. But when there are 2 workers? 3 or more? That’s going to be where efforts to control the creation and spread of dust either fail or are simply abandoned.
With this BuildClean, a turn of the knob means cleaner air. That’s a hard selling point to argue against.
To me, the BuildClean seems like a “throw money at the problem” and low effort solution, and that’s a good thing, at least for contractors that can fit such an investment into their budgets.
If I were living in a home as it’s being remodelled, I would DEFINITELY want the contractors to be using something like this. If not an air scrubber, then barrier walls and on-tool dust collection or vacuum use. But barrier walls and on-tool dust collection require more time and effort, and greater coordination where multiple workers are handling different tasks, and not all contractors are willing to put this into their remodelling jobs.
The fact that ITW doesn’t outright list the price of the BuildClean unit must say something about how much it costs. They do say the system will pay for itself within 5 jobs. I also found an expired trial offer for homeowners to push to contractors working on their homes.
I really don’t like the way ITW is marketing the BuildClean. There’s no mention of size, weight, cost, noise level, current draw, filter life, or things like that. Their marketing tries really hard to sell you on the product without discussing finer details. That said, it looks like a very interesting product with a lot of appeal for contractors and their clients alike.
They claim that contractors can use it as a marketing tool, and I think that’s a good point. If there are two comparable contractors bidding for a project, and one has a BuildClean and the other does not, who do you think will have a bigger chance of landing the job?
Price: $980 plus tax for the air scrubber with HEPA filter and one pre-filter, plus shipping.
Pre-filters cost $23 each and should last one per job (30 days). They can be shaken out when dirty. Replacement HEPA filters cost $150 and last up to one year (5,000 hours).
A vent hose, for creating negative pressure, comes with an 8″ x 25′ structured hose and a clamp, and is priced at $65.91. There are potential dangers in using a vent hose, if operated incorrectly, and so the operating manual should definitely be consulted prior to use.
The BuildClean air scrubber is about the size of a jobsite vacuum – 22″ tall x 18″ in diameter, and it weighs 38 pounds. It can be a tight fit for work in small areas, such as a small bathroom.
Its noise level is said to be just over 68 dB, which they say (and we agree) is quieter than a typical jobsite vacuum. On the low setting, the noise level is around 40 dB.