For some reason, I spent most of my life not knowing that I could actually fix household appliances and perform other household DIY tasks on my own. Since learning otherwise, I’ve fixed my squeaky dryer, repaired my own dishwasher, fixed a stripped door hinge screw, repainted my front porch and back deck and more.
Vacuum repairs are a common occurrence around my house. One of my most popular posts helps fix a problem with cordless Dyson vacuums pulsating off and on.
My mom taught me a lot about how to fix the most common vacuum repairs, including some of the suggestions in this post. If your vacuum cleaner is on the blink and you’re thinking of paying for a vacuum repair or even trashing it and buying a new one, try these steps before you do anything else.
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Empty the Cup/Change the Bag
This may seem like a no-brainer, but bear with me. Some people forget to change the bag or empty the dirt cup.
All that dirt accumulates and accumulates until it’s packed in there as hard as it can go. Once the dirt cup or bag is full, the vacuum will either stop sucking, severely decrease its sucking power or get jammed up in the tubes leading to the dirt container.
I generally empty the dirt cup in a vacuum every time I get done using it. Even if the cup isn’t completely filled, some debris might have congregated around the suction tube, decreasing the vacuum’s suction until the cup is emptied completely.
Check the Manual
If you don’t still have the user’s manual that came with your vacuum, check the company’s website. A vacuum’s manual can provide a gold mine of troubleshooting information to help with DIY vacuum repair.
Also, if you end up needing replacement parts, the manual will usually tell you the part numbers. Here’s a list of websites for popular vacuum cleaner companies.
Check for Clogs
A common cause of suction loss in a vacuum is a clog somewhere. Use the manual to find out where you should search for clogs.
If the manual doesn’t help, try Googling your vacuum cleaner model or searching YouTube for an appropriate video tutorial. Also, some vacuum cleaner companies offer how-to videos on their websites.
I wrote a post about unclogging a Dyson vacuum, and you’ll find that most vacuums work roughly the same way. They all have tubing – loads of it – and at some point, it’s likely to get plugged up. This usually happens when someone vacuums an object that shouldn’t be vacuumed, like a small toy, pieces of paper, a lollipop stick – you get the idea.
Check the Rollers
If you turn over the part of your vacuum that moves across the carpet, you’ll see rollers with tiny brushes on them. These brush rollers (sometimes called beater bars) spin furiously while you’re vacuuming to help gather dirt and debris from your carpets.
Hairs, strings, carpet fibers and so forth get matted around these rollers. Gently remove all of that tangled mess.
Try to avoid using anything sharp so you don’t damage your vacuum. You should be able to clean the brush rollers with your hands and no additional equipment.
Check the Belt
Are the brush rollers on your vacuum spinning when you have it turned on? If they’re not, check the manual to see if you might have turned them off somehow by mistake.
If the rollers aren’t turned off but don’t spin, or don’t spin very well, you might have a belt problem. You can use the belt replacement instructions in your vacuum’s trusty owner’s manual or check out this post with generic instructions that should work for most vacuums.
If the belt came off, put it back on. If the belt is in place but the rollers don’t spin, consider replacing the belt. It might be worn out. If the belt has broken, you’ll definitely need to replace it.
The bad news about belts is that putting a belt on can be a bit of a bear. Be careful you don’t snap yourself – that thing goes on very tightly. The good news is that vacuum cleaner belts generally cost only $5 to $10 for a pack of two.
I’ll bet the city dump sees dozens of vacuums every month that could be fixed with a very small amount of work such as a belt replacement.
Your vacuum probably has one or more filters which you should check regularly, according to the instructions in the user’s manual. Some filters require cleaning monthly. Other vacuum cleaner filters will need to be replaced periodically.
Filter prices vary widely. They can cost $10, $25 or more, depending on the vacuum. They’re almost certainly cheaper than replacing the whole vacuum, though.
What Have I Missed?
These are probably the most common vacuum problems. However, you can probably perform almost any vacuum repair with help from the owner’s manual, the company’s website, Google and YouTube. Amazon carries a wide variety of vacuum cleaner parts, so you can buy what you need without even leaving home.