Dust Collector System - Grounded??

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Forum topic by mmckee posted 10-03-2012 02:52 PM 3365 views 1 time favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 2273 days

10-03-2012 02:52 PM

Hi all,

I recently purchased the Harbor Freight 2hp dust collector system and plan to do a fairly stationary hook up with 4” PVC duct work. I was talking to someone today and they mentioned that the system should be grounded as the air and sawdust moving through the PVC will create a fair amount of static and the possibility for sparking will be high. My shop is fairly small (20×20) and it is just me doing recreational stuff in it.

Has anyone else with a dust collection system had an issue with this? Should it be or does it need to be grounded? Do I not need to worry about it? If I do have to ground it how would I go about that? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

26 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5173 posts in 2692 days

#1 posted 10-03-2012 03:14 PM

I grounded my first system and had a problem with it: it was a royal PITA! Don’t worry about it, you don’t need to do it, and it’s a waste of time/money. Did I mention it’s a royal PITA? You might have a personal discomfort issue if you get near the ductwork while the system is running, but otherwise there is no danger from fire/explosion.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5123 posts in 4159 days

#2 posted 10-03-2012 03:18 PM

My HF unit is not grounded. No probs.


View waho6o9's profile


8516 posts in 2775 days

#3 posted 10-03-2012 03:30 PM

My dust deputy is grounded using a wire and a
bolt, nut, washer combo.

View waho6o9's profile


8516 posts in 2775 days

#4 posted 10-03-2012 03:33 PM

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8549 posts in 2527 days

#5 posted 10-03-2012 03:58 PM

If it were really necessary to ground a pvc pipe or flex hose DC system, don’t you think there would be at least one report out there of a fire that was started in one of the thousands of systems out there that aren’t grounded?

IMHO, for small hobby shop use, with DCs 3 HP and under you can better spend your money in a lot of other areas of your shop and get a lot more improved safety bang for your buck, than you will by grounding plastic pipe.

If your a commercial shop, generatign a lot of CFM and a lot of dust, then you should go all metal.

In the link above, the cause of the fire is attributed to an accumulation of very flamable waste… and any commercial facility in a heavily regulated country, almost certainly has an all steel pipe DC system.

We’ve had multiple fires in our DC piping at work…. and they have always been attributed to insufficient air velocity leaving deposited wood dust in the horizontal pipe runs (16” trunk line half full) and the ignition source has been sparks from cutting lumber with nails in it (which we routinely do).

We finally got a spark detection and fire supression system installed…. $50K for a system bought at a bankruptcy auction and refurbished and installed by the OEM.

Read up an you’ll learn that trying to ground an system made out of a material that is an insulator is somewhat of an oxymoron.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 2609 days

#6 posted 10-03-2012 04:42 PM

Lots of people have debunked this myth. There’s never been a documented case of static discharge causing a fire/explosion in a dust collection system. People with much more science background than me have put a lot of material on the web explaining why it doesn’t happen.

As someone else posted in a link above, wood dust is highly flammable. However, invariably, the cause of fires is a spark or hot piece of metal that gets sucked into the system because a saw blade hit a nail in the material, not static discharge.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy, and always use a metal detector before you cut your material.

-- Kelby

View DaveMu's profile


56 posts in 2533 days

#7 posted 10-03-2012 09:30 PM

Not grounded here, no problems.

View TeamTurpin's profile


85 posts in 2260 days

#8 posted 10-03-2012 09:55 PM

There is about zero chance of a dust system explosion in a small shop.

That being said, I went ahead and grounded mine. (You guys just have no idea how desperately bad my luck is.) I screwed sheet metal screws into my 4” pvc dust pipe every couple of feet. I then wrapped a heavy guage copper wire around my dust system’s frame and then around those embedded screws. Hopefully if static starts to build up in that pipe, it will jump onto that wire and find that fine Oklahoma clay soil.


View Cole Tallerman's profile

Cole Tallerman

392 posts in 2383 days

#9 posted 10-03-2012 10:04 PM

I have pretty much exactly what you described. I do notice the static. I see dust clinging to the outside of the pvc and and sometimes i can feel it although in the few months ive had it, ive had no problems. I also asked my electrician about it and he said as long as there is no dust sitting in the pipes, its not an issue. This means that you shouldn’t have duct work thats to big. If your just using 4” with a 1.5 hp DC then you are totally fine.

View cstrang's profile


1832 posts in 3367 days

#10 posted 10-03-2012 10:49 PM

I’d ground it, if not for the fire hazzard for the dust clinging because of the static alone, why not go all metal? far easier to ground and where I live when I priced my duct work it was cheaper to go tothe hardware store and pick up some metal duct, no need for the heavy gauge spiral industrial stuff. Regular metal duct will work. Just a thought.

-- A hammer dangling from a wall will bang and sound like work when the wind blows the right way.

View John's profile


47 posts in 2272 days

#11 posted 10-03-2012 10:52 PM

I stand over a shortish piece of soft plastic flex duct when I’m working at the planer. Static builds up from the flow of debris and sometimes it’s enough to give me a little surprise zap in the leg. I don’t think I’d worry about the fire hazard, but it might do a number on say the electronic speed control on your lathe or other electronics you may have in your shop.

View DustPipe's profile


12 posts in 2251 days

#12 posted 10-13-2012 02:30 PM

I work for Dust technology/, and we manufacture and install dust collectors of all sizes. In a commercial shop, PVC is not only not recommended it is Illegal as per NFPA code 664. Now, in 95% of shops running PVC, you might never have a problem, but they CAN start fires. Also, as mentioned, grounding may not adequately relieve this static. We sell metal ducting and flex hose if you should decide to go that route.

View johnrs's profile


1 post in 2250 days

#13 posted 10-13-2012 02:36 PM

The fact that your shop is small negates the need for any static control. Any static buildup will dissipate once the system is shut off. IF you want to ground it though, I would place wire lugs/screw mounts five to ten feet of run. Attach a ground wire to each lug THEN hook it up to a Grounded Plug Repair Kit you only need the Ground prong anyway and simply plug it into the house outlet….presto…..grounded. Oh, and one more thing, a fire CAN start ANYWHERE.

View mmckee's profile


11 posts in 2273 days

#14 posted 10-13-2012 05:16 PM

All the insight is a great help, I will try it the way that it is and go from there. Its not like the system will be running for hours at a time and I will not be sending tons of sawdust thru it either at a given time. I hopefully will be done with it next week as i am just waiting for 2 air flow gates to arrive as I decided to add them at every drop. As soon as I get it wrapped up and cleaned up I will post some pictures.

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 2761 days

#15 posted 10-13-2012 06:14 PM

Here are two links that explain why the danger of a dust explosion in a small shop due to static electricity is virtually nill. Is it possible? Yes. Is it possible that you could win the PowerBall jackpot three times in a row? Yes.

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