Dust Collector Combustion from Static... Myth or Reality?

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Forum topic by steliart posted 01-30-2011 09:06 PM 5024 views 1 time favorited 49 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2692 posts in 2711 days

01-30-2011 09:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dust dust collector dust extraction static combustion ducting soil metal soil pipes metal pipes

I have been reading all this time all warnings about static build up in soil pipes ducting of dust collection systems and about grounding and so on.
But I have found no evidence of such a danger no where. On the contrary experts on this subject (not metal ducting companies) say that this is highly unlikely to happen in ducting systems with 8” pipes or smaller.

Static combustion occurred in the big dust collection systems like the farmers cyclones. Personally I believe it’s more of a marketing sales myth for use metal ducting instead of the less expensive soil pipes.

From what I red from professionals who are in this line of business, there was never a recorded incident n the US of static dust combustion in 8” or less in ungrounded soil ducting pipes.
There is a much higher danger for combustion from your workshop’s floor dust sweep. If your collector picks up some small metal things like nails etc. those MAY hit the metallic fan and trigger a spark that can result to fire. So ducting has nothing to do with this.

I would like to here what you have to say on this safety subject.

Is this a myth, and who’s myth is it?
Are there facts suggesting that this did really happen, and so the experts are misleading us?
What did you use or what would you use for dust collection ducting system in your shop, metal or PVC pipes?

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of all inventions

49 replies so far

View RobertT's profile


70 posts in 2804 days

#1 posted 01-30-2011 09:13 PM

Didn’t the Myth Busters bust this one. But youll still here a lot of people say better put a ground wire on that pipe.

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5723 posts in 3255 days

#2 posted 01-30-2011 09:21 PM

The fire protection people I have talked to that have researched the issue say it’s baseless. You CAN ground your PVC pipe DC ducting if you wish, but there is little benefit. The risks of static discharge combustion in a home workshop dust collection system are so small, that you would have more benefit trying to protect your shop from an engine falling off of a passing jetliner…

There are those, and it’s no small number, that swear that you MUST ground your DC ducting, and I am not going to argue against that, mostly because grounding it will give them a good feeling about what they are doing, and it’s relatively cheap. But I won’t bother unless a reputable expert in the field can show me studies and case examples of this actually being a problem and not urban myth…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Drew's profile


350 posts in 3123 days

#3 posted 01-30-2011 09:35 PM

It’s funny how myths can grow legs.

Your dust collection is the least dangerous tool in the shop!

BUT, if it makes you feel better to ground the ducting then go ahead. Just make sure to ground the INSIDE of the ducting!


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2692 posts in 2711 days

#4 posted 01-30-2011 09:39 PM

The reason I brought this subject back again is because someone just asked me about static combustion protection from building my mini cyclone dust collection bucket.
What sales marketing promos do to us… sigh

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of all inventions

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Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3736 days

#5 posted 01-30-2011 09:43 PM

Hmmm, I’m under a major flight path, how much will I have to beef up the roof trusses to deflect a falling engine LOL!

I was wondering if the Mythbusters had busted this; good to hear they have. I can see where you may want to ground your DC and pipes to avoid an unpleasant shock, but I don’t believe you can start a fire in the ducting just from static. I think this was covered some time ago in another thread. Search “grounding dust collection” or something similar and you will see lots of discussion.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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2584 posts in 2984 days

#6 posted 01-30-2011 10:07 PM

I have an Oneida DD. I did run a wire from a bolt in the lid, soldered a washer on the wire and let it drag the concrete floor. I think it is more to keep stuff from sticking to the sides of the bucket than a fire prevention. JMHO.

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439 posts in 3218 days

#7 posted 01-30-2011 10:18 PM

I’d ground it just so I didn’t get a static shock every now and then.

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2963 days

#8 posted 01-30-2011 10:21 PM

I have 4 ” PVC pipes on my DC systems. No grounding. I’m not worried.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Gator's profile


383 posts in 3699 days

#9 posted 01-30-2011 10:29 PM

Could your insurance company use the fact that you did not have one as a “loop hole” to get out of covering you in the event of a fire by saying you did not take precautions or follow safety procedures when installing your system?

-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

View steliart's profile


2692 posts in 2711 days

#10 posted 01-30-2011 10:41 PM

Yes this is true.
Sometimes you can get static shock on your TS for example and especially with metal ducting. But not combustion please… Problem easily solved with a piece of any wire grounded externally and not internally, even some metal tape would do the job. Our bicycles build static and it can give you a shock sometimes, that’s why we tape the steering, we don’t wire the bike to the ground. I remember many years ago cars used to have this thing hanging from the rear touching the ground for protection from… lightning!!! another fine sales marketing example.

Don’t know anything about insurance policies in US but with the same logic I have not follow any safety procedure when building my house against meteors.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of all inventions

View DaveRI's profile


12 posts in 2703 days

#11 posted 01-30-2011 11:05 PM

Great topic for me as I bought a used dust collection system but, have yet to complete my shop. I was wondering what I had to do to prevent fire and I had even heard explosions from dust duct static discharge and subsequent fires. Thanks guys, for putting that one to rest for me.

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5849 posts in 3608 days

#12 posted 01-30-2011 11:09 PM

I don’t think it’s a serious fire risk but you can get a nasty sharp dunt from static which will throw you.So play safe actually plastic soil pipe is worse than metal ducting but this plastic can also be ground.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3021 days

#13 posted 01-31-2011 06:49 AM

Dust collection? What is this dust collection of which you speak? We would hear more of it!.

Seriously, this just comes from the world of grain elevators and grain mills that have much finer particulates which can go off with just a spark in quite spectacular explosions (as in no survivors).

Whether there are enough small particles in your dust collection to combust is probably not even close. Now, here is a good reason to think about grounding them: The electronics on your power tools may not take kindly to extraneous static charges flowing through them. Most are pretty robust but there are some that are more delicate. Also, getting zapped with a stray static charge can make you flinch at an inopportune time when your attention should be focused elsewhere. Not a good idea around power tools.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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18285 posts in 3699 days

#14 posted 01-31-2011 07:36 AM

I do not know about Mythbusters, but an aquaintance of mine proved a static charge did not have enough power (heat) to ignite black powder. Black powder will fire my flintlock but I doubt if wood dust will ;-)) You be the judge.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2937 days

#15 posted 01-31-2011 03:09 PM

Regardless of which side of this debate you are on, NOW is the time to at least check that you have several (more than ONE) fire extinguishers in your shop and that they are properly charged. I personally have three 2lb. units spread out in the shop with one at the entrance door.

While the DC static spark may not be a danger, sparks from cut nails in a TS and sparks from a dis-functioning and over heated router can and do (as evidenced in recent weeks on LJs threads). And these sparks could potentially be sucked into your DC. Just saying…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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