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Festus Joins Dismal Manor Gang

Festus joins the Dismal Manor Gang. He’s a Festool CT15 HEPA extractor that normally works with saws and sanders but has robust domestic cleanup tools offered as accessories.

I tired of the Dyson’s canister’s small bin (3 empties per cleaning), propensity to clog, and dust belching manors. So I did what I was tempted to do years ago. I ordered a Festool Extractor CT15E for use as a domestic vacuum. How’s that working out? Pretty well actually. More after the break.

American tradesmen working in finished environments use Festool tools with built in dust extraction features. These tools have engineered air flow that draws dust from the cutting area for delivery to one of Festool’s magic extractors. Tradesmen would bring their job extractor into their home for a clean-up task, spouse would discover said machine, fall in love, and kidnap the tradesman’s extractor for domestic use. Order a second for the job, dear.

Revision History

  1. 2021-02-28 Revised to mention that CT15 was wet pickup capable as it has the bin full of liquid shutdown found on CT-MINI and CT-MIDI with which it shares works.
  2. 2021-02-28 Revised to mention that Festool and Dyson cordless hand tool hoses can coupled to use Dyson hand bits with Festool extractors.

So why?

Doing domestic cleaning, tradesmen and their partners discovered the following things about Festool extractors.

  • They work
  • They have a 4 gallon bin or larger
  • They can do wet pickup
  • They pass the return air through a HEPA filter so don’t return dust to the house.
  • Tools are antistatic so don’t accumulate internal dust
  • The blower housing is antistatic so doesn’t accumulate dust in the air path
  • There are no tight places to fish paper bits out of
  • The filter bag catches paper bits, dust, and hair keeping it out of the works
  • The hose is long enough for dusting door casings, atop the fridge, etc.
  • The return air discharge accepts the hose allowing use of warm return hair for drying wet dogs. (Not tested).
  • And my favorite trick of plugging the hose into the discharge, placing the business end in the suction, and starting the machine to blow blockages directly into the bag!

In short, Festool engineers avoided every issue with the discontinued Dyson canister cleaner line. And they are quiet. And they clean well.

Festool extractors are, well, tools

Festool designs and makes the extractors to partner with specific ranges of tools and to be easily moved about the job site. Since they are used to collect machine tool dust and chipping, the bins are large, the hoses are large diameter, the hoses are long to work the tops of door casings, etc. Separate shop and home cleanup kits are offered. So I bought the following kit from Festool

  • CT15 HEPA extractor
  • A cleaning set with 36mm hose, steel tubing, and metal floor nozzle
  • A Turbo II turbine head carpet nozzle (search for this item)
  • Add-on dusting brushes for corners and broader areas
  • Upright style reusable dust bag

The bits are mostly a la carte with different bundling at festoolusa.com and authorized distributor festoolsales.com. It takes a bit of looking to find the air-motorized carpet head.

Initial experiences

If it is good enough for This Old House master home builder Tommy Silva, it is good enough for the Dismal Wizard.

  • Everything is solid.
  • Nozzles fit together snugly with no finicky latches.
  • The hard floor head picks up dog biscuit crumbs off hardwood without power brush kickback of crumbs.
  • The Turbo II turbine drive carpet nozzle cleans carpet well.
  • The hose and works don’t clog.
  • Both nozzles clean under furniture gracefully (canister strong point)
  • I can clean the stacked dryer’s lint traps and their pookas in the machine
  • The bin holds dog hair collected over several cleanings.
  • The reusable bag empties easily
  • The motor soft starts
  • The motor has a variable speed drive
  • Bleed valves allow further tailoring of suction to the work
  • The machine powers and starts when plugged in tools start
  • Cord remains cool in use (10 gage likely for 20 amp draw).

So what’s the Dyson good for?

At this point, it is around for a few things it does well. The powered upholstery brushes (regular and non-tangle) are great for removing dog hair from fabric like loudspeaker grills. And, with a little jiggery pokey, the Dyson and Festool hoses can be coupled! Use the clever Dyson tools with the no muss, no fuss Festool extractor!

After writing the original version of this post, I discovered that a number of vendors at Amazon offer hoses that allow use of the Dyson cordless cleaners with the Dyson hand tools. A Festool rubber hose end can couple to the Dyson hose allowing use of compatible Dyson tools for dusting, particularly the upholstery brush and no-tangle upholstery brush.

And Cost?

The little CT15 plus tools sets is cost competitive with a nice canister cleaner like those made by Miele. And it works as well. And it may well last 20+ years. All of the bits are available a la carte so can be replaced when they meet with misfortune.

The CT15 is optimized for shop cleanup. As a result, you give up some capabilities found on the CT-MINI and CT-MIDI extractors.

  • The CT15 won’t stack with Systainers
  • The CT15 does not have the BlueTooth remote start feature built into Festool battery powered tools
  • The CT15 lacks a hose garage
  • The CT15 lacks a low flow alarm (required for trade use in some jurisdictions)
  • The CT15 has the high liquid level shutdown for wet pick up and can be rigged for wet pickup.
  • The CT15 does not have a caster brake to prevent rolloff when used in the tool dust collection role

Festool and its US distributors are not competing. Take care to purchase from an authorized distributor.The more robust cleaning sets and the Turbo II carpet cleaner are commonly on 2 week backorder. If a price is too good to be true, the vendor is likely offering “fell off a truck” goods.