Wet and Dry Vacs: A Comparison | Atlas Resell Management

You are here

Wet and Dry Vacs: A Comparison

The two main types of vacuum systems available to dentists are wet vacuums and dry vacuums. What are the main differences between the two?

Main Differences Between Wet and Dry

So what are the main differences between wet vacuum pumps and dry vacuum pumps?DentalEz CustomVac single pump wet ring dental vacuum pump

Wet dental vacuum systems use water to create vacuum pressure. They are usually very reliable but require a lot of water, an average of 360 gallons a day, to operate. Also, minerals and other residue from city water can wear down the vacuum pump over time and shorten its lifespan.

Dry vacuum pumps create vacuum pressure by pumping air out of the vacuum chamber. They do not require the large amounts of water to operate that wet vacuums do.

In other words,for our discussion in this article, “wet” vacuum refers to vacuum pumps that use water to create vacuum pressure in the chamber, and “dry” vacuum refers to vacuum pumps that use pumped air to create vacuum pressure in the chamber.

Suction Power

Newer dry vacuum systems can provide up to 25” Hg of suction power, while newer wet vacuums can only provide up to 15” Hg of suction power. Other models of both types of vacuum systems provide less suction power than that, but dry vacuums provide dentists with more options when determining how much power they can afford for their offices.

Water Consumption Midmark PowerVac dental oil-free vacuum pump

Most wet dental vacuum systems use a half gallon of water per minute per horse power. This can cost a dental practice as much as $2,000 a year.

Dry vacuums, on the other hand, do not require water flow so they do not use nearly as much water as wet vacuums and the water consumption cost is negligible.


Wet and dry vacuums each have slightly different maintenance requirements. See the table below for more details. Generally speaking, a dry vacuum pump requires less maintenance. Both types of vacuum systems need to have their lines cleaned daily and be inspected by a local service department annually.



Comparison Chart: Dry Vac and Wet Vac


The waste vacuumed up by both wet and dry vacuums must be emptied regularly. Some models of dry vacuums offer a feature called an air-water separator. This compact plastic component drains the liquid from the vacuum tank into a small pail every time the pump shuts off. This draining process takes about six minutes. Dry vacuums that use this separator do not need to be cleaned as often other models.

Make Your Choice and Shop our Selection

Which vacum pump works best for your practice? We sell both types of vacuum pumps on our site. Check them out.