I tend to leave dust-collection blast gates open after using a machine, and that reduces suction at the next tool used.

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I tend to leave dust-collection blast gates open after using a machine, and that reduces suction at the next tool used. To provide instant visual indication of a drop in suction, I came up with this handy gauge.

To make one, attach a length of 34 " clear vinyl tubing to the dust collector's pipe within a few feet of the dust collector and mount it as shown. Pour a small amount of water (adding a few drops of food coloring makes it easier to see) into the tubing and mark the resting level of the liquid. With one blast gate open and a clean filter in the dust collector, turn on the dust collector and mark the maximum suction level next to the tubing. Now, you can spot a drop in suction—caused by extra blast gates open, leaks in the system, clogged filter media, or full bags—just by looking at the gauge to see if the water level has fallen.
—Ken Wadsworth, Sedalia, Colo.