So you got yourself one of those hanging air filtration thingies for your shop (yay you!). That was a smart move. Now how in the world are you going to get that heavy beast up to the ceiling? Even with assistance, they can be a real bear to hang without injury. The larger, the more difficult. Because we’d prefer our awesome readers to breathe clean air AND not be laid up in a recovery room, we bring you this simple hooks and chains method of more safely hoisting a heavy air cleaner. Even if you’re stuck doing it by yourself.
The Back Story Of A Back Saver
I was given this air filtration unit back when I inhabited a different shop. The problem is, it’s large (34” x 24” x 12”). And it’s heavy (62 lbs.). And even with friends’ help, lifting it high enough and for long enough to hang from the ceiling feels like an accident waiting to happen. If this thing begins to drop, there’s virtually no stopping it without personal injury or destroying it and/or things in the immediate area. There has to be a better way. One that doesn’t involve herniated discs or soiled underbritches.
After searching around the intertubes for an easy, cheap way to safely lift the unit by myself (and to my surprise, finding none) I came up with a practical solution that’s vastly safer than trying to manhandle the unit up a ladder, even with a helper. Finally ready to hang it in my current shop, again I was able to do the job by myself and without injury.
Though I personally promote this as a safer technique than most I’ve seen, it’s not without danger. You still have to lift half of the weight over and over while working on a ladder. So take your time and pay attention to what you’re doing. Use a tall enough ladder that you always have something to lean on while lifting.
The Supply Chain
What you’ll need:
* 4 eye lag screws
* 8 S-hooks (you’ll need only 4 if your air filter unit has hooks on top, rather than eyes)
* 4 Chains long enough to reach from the ceiling to the filtration unit.
* A Sufficiently tall ladder
Find Some Joists From Which To Hoist
Unfortunately, the mounting eyes on my air filtration unit aren’t even close to matching my joist spacing. But since I have no ceiling, it was easy to add a spanning joist to which I could fasten the hardware. In my previous shop (which did have a ceiling), I bolted a pair of 2x4s to the ceiling – each spanning and attached to 3 joists – to provide my anchor points.
On the down side, open joists also means that the air filtration system will be less efficient at moving the air that’s below “ceiling level”, even with strategically-located deflectors. But I’m working with what I have right now.
Whatever your setup, be sure the weight of the air filter is ultimately supported by solid joists and not by toggle bolts through drywall.
4 Eyes – Quite A Spectacle
Once you have your spacing figured out, drill the appropriate size pilot holes for the eye lags and screw them into the joists. I used #4 eye screws, which are made of 1/4” wire and have a 1/2” diameter eye. The shank and threads measure only an inch long. You want at least that much sunk into the joist, so be sure to compensate with longer bolts if you’re going through ceiling material.
I made the rookie mistake of naively assuming my main joists were precisely aligned. As a result, I got the eyes about an inch closer together on one end. No huge deal, but it’s a reminder that you should always measure and never assume previous workers valued tight tolerances as much as you do. Especially with framing construction.
You S-hook Me All Night Long
Connect an S-hook and chain to each eye screw. Use hardware that’s strong enough to support the weight of the air filtration unit a few times over. None of that wimpy, unwelded swag lamp chain.
A Hook In Your Eye – Safely Hanging Your Shop Air Filtration System
Some shop air filters come with hooks on top, but most have eye bolts. If you’re lucky enough to have hooks, omit the S-hooks (but still use S-hooks up at the ceiling). The rest of us can either replace the eyes with hooks or use S-hooks as shown.
You will have only one free hand to work with. So after connecting the S-hooks to the air filter, wrap some tape to keep them upright and at attention. Doing so makes it much easier to connect the chain with one hand while lifting the unit with the other.
Raising Your Air Quality Standards
By now, you can probably see where this is going. From here it’s just a matter of going back and forth from end to end, lifting the unit a little higher each time.
Your Climb To The Top
As you work your way higher and higher, always keep an eye on the chains opposite you. If one slips off, reattach it before proceeding.
Your Moment Of Victory
The other ladder was no longer cutting it at this point. I needed something to lean on while lifting the weight near ceiling level, so I switched to a taller ladder. Finally, once you reach the desired height, cut off the excess chain.
Or you can just double up the S-hooks by hooking the ones from above through the eyes on the air filtration unit. And hooking the ones on the filter unit through the eyes on the ceiling.
At many times during the process, the weight will temporarily be supported by only three corners. Once you have the unit positioned where you want it, however, check that the load is distributed among all four. If one has slack, adjust an eye screw or hook to snug it up.
If you’d like to see the process in action, check out my decidedly “unpolished” video demonstration from 5 years ago:
I’m No Superman – But No One Has To Know That
And there you go – one shop air filtration system suspended from the ceiling. Best of all, you’ll live to enjoy its benefits! If and when you ever need to take it down again, simply reverse the process. Your friends might wonder how you managed to do it all by yourself. But don’t worry; your secret is safe with us… and the rest of the Internet. And if you can’t trust anonymous users on the Internet, who can you trust?
7 thoughts on “How To Safely Hang An Air Filtration Unit In Your Shop – Without Help”
My wife loved this. Now she doesn’t have to help me.
A clever solution to a weighty problem, Steve. And I’m not just yanking your chain. Sincere condolences on your Mom’s passing.
Thank you, Phil, on both counts. They can both be weighty problems. It’s all in how you handle it.
great way to get it done!!! When u have no help and u need to get it done sometimes just got to come up with a eway to get it done
Thank you. It definitely makes the job a lot easier.
It’s amazing what one can do without help. It’s also crazy what we have to do to get some filtered air around here. Great work and post!
Thanks for being here, Eloy. With a little determination and creative problem solving, you can do just about anything!