Vacuum cleaners are not complex machines to maintain. They will function for a long time with minimal upkeep and maintenance. However, if you have a vacuum cleaner that requires repair, it can be frustrating because they often don’t work as well after the repairs as they did before.
This article provides basic troubleshooting tips to help fix your vacuum cleaner.
What Type of Vacuum Do You Own?
There are a few different types of vacuum cleaners. The two most common types are uprights and canisters. Upright vacuums generally have larger bags, making it easier to remove debris from the bag when they need emptying. Still, this type is less maneuverable1 around furniture than some other models.
Canister vacuums tend to be smaller with more attachments that allow you to reach small areas like closets or under a bed, for example. They also usually come with an onboard storage compartment where all your tools, hoses, and accessories may be stored away neatly while not in use.
How to Fix an Upright Vacuum
The On/Off Switch: The most common problem is the on/off switch. Vacuums will turn off automatically after a certain amount of time to prevent overheating, but if your vacuum cleaner turns off while you’re using it, then this may be why. Turn the knob all the way to “I” for intermittent2 mode, which means that it will stay on until turned off by hand (this can also help prolong battery life).
Locate and Fix Blockages: A blockage in a hose or pipe can cause loss of suction and make a strange sound like growling, whining, or humming when running due to air pressure imbalances inside the appliance. If there are any attachments with removable parts such as extension tubes or brushes, they should be checked for blockages or tangles.
The Cord: Check the cord for any signs of damage like cuts, tears, or burns that may have occurred while vacuuming and wrap it in a figure-eight shape to make sure there are no tugs on the wire causing an electrocution hazard. If you notice corrosion3 where the plug enters into the machine, then this is likely your problem. You’ll need to replace this part because it will lead to electric shocks when using your vacuum cleaner, which can be very dangerous.
The Drive Belt: First, to replace this part, unplug the machine and remove any attachments where applicable, like brushes or extension tubes. Then locate the screws that hold on the bottom cover to open up access to the motor. The belt will be visible directly in front of you when looking at these devices, so just carefully pull it away from its pulley wheel after removing any debris caught underneath it.
The Dirt Fan: There’s a good chance that the dirt fan is dirty if your vacuum cleaner has been giving off an odd smell while running. First, to replace this part, unplug the machine and remove any attachments where applicable, like brushes or extension tubes. Then locate the screws that hold on the bottom cover to open up access to the motor. Locate the dirt fan inside of there (it will be visible in front of you) and gently pull it out from its position.
The Roller Brush: The roller brush may need replacing if it becomes worn over time with use or starts making strange noises when being used for cleaning carpets. This piece should slide right out once you’ve removed any other parts such as hoses, extensions, etcetera.
The Motor: If your vacuum cleaner has been making a high-pitched noise or smells like burning rubber, then it’s likely the motor is malfunctioning. First, to replace this part, unplug the machine and remove any attachments where applicable, like brushes or extension tubes. Then locate screws that hold on the bottom cover to open up access to the motor.
The Vacuum Bag: If you notice debris4 collecting around one side of your vacuum bag rather than evenly distributed inside it, then this may be why debris seems stuck in certain areas when vacuuming various floor surfaces. Detach from front to back (while still keeping upright) and ensure no tears or holes on either end before reattaching back together again with ease.
How to Fix a Canister Vacuum
The On/Off Switch: Check that the on/off switch is in position to turn your vacuum cleaner off and on.
The Hose: Remove any attachments such as brushes or extension tubes, then check for blockages by looking inside a hose with a flashlight- you should be able to see if there are any clogs from this vantage point. If not, try running water through it while unplugged (be careful not to get too wet).
The Handle: Ensure the handle doesn’t have dust built up along its base where it connects to the cleaner. If it does, this will likely cause your vacuum not to slide as easily along floors and carpets while vacuuming, which can be a problem for any user.
The Vacuum Bag: Again, check that there are no tears or holes on either end of the bag before reattaching back together again with ease. Detach from front to back (while still keeping upright) to clean out debris trapped inside before putting it back together again.
The Belt: If your vacuum cleaner makes a high-pitched noise or smells like burning rubber, then it’s likely that the belt is broken, which will require you to replace this part for the machine to function properly.
The Dirt Fan: Check if the dirt fan is dirty by taking off any parts such as hoses, extensions, etcetera and looking inside- if so, clean out with water while unplugged (be careful not to get too wet).
The Beater Bar: The beater bar may need to be replaced if it becomes too worn out with regular use. To replace this part, first, unplug the machine and remove any attachments where applicable like brushes or extension tubes, then locate screws that hold on the bottom cover to open up access to the motor- you’ll find the belt right in front of you when looking at these devices. Remove any debris caught underneath it before replacing the old piece with a new one.
The Brush Rollers: Check that they are not bent, broken, or otherwise damaged, which can cause a vacuum cleaner’s brush rollers to wear unevenly over time (which will interfere with how well your machine picks up dirt).
Suppose you’ve gone through every troubleshooting step, and your machine still isn’t picking up dirt. In that case, it may be time to contact an electrician who can identify problems with wiring, electrical connections, or other components of your appliance.
This is likely caused by the motor overheating and should be looked at immediately for your safety. If you can’t find any other machine issues, it may require an electrician to replace this part as soon as possible.
Try replacing the old vacuum bag with a new one- this will fix any issues that could arise from debris escaping out of holes which would otherwise result in poor performance when vacuuming floors and carpets.
Try turning your vacuum cleaner upside down and shaking it to dislodge any dirt that you can’t seem to remove from the bag- sometimes, this extra step is necessary for those who have a hard time emptying out their bags.
In the end, it’s important to remember that vacuums come with a built-in warranty, and any problems can typically be fixed by contacting your manufacturer. If you’re not sure who manufactures your vacuum cleaner or where you purchased it from, check out the label on your machine for contact information.
When in doubt about how to fix something yourself, always call customer service. It could save you time and money down the road.