It’s a safe to say almost every home in Canada has a vacuum cleaner, in one form or another. However, the percentage of people who perform the recommended maintenance on said vacuum is probably next to none.
So why do we still suggest doing things like belt changes, cleaning the agitator, and replacing the filters? Simply put: it makes your vacuum cleaner work better now, and helps your vacuum last longer.
If your vacuum has an agitator (spinning brush bar) it also has a belt. Most vacuums utilize a flat rubber belt that needs to be replaced every 12-18 months, or more often if broken. This belt drives the agitator and will stretch out because it’s under constant tension. If the belt is stretched the agitator won’t spin fast enough to properly separate the carpet fibers and loosen debris. Find out how to change a vacuum belt here. Common signs you need to change the belt:
- Vacuum is picking up debris and then shooting it out
- Agitator spins while vacuum head is held in the air, stops when placed against carpet.
- Agitator does not spin at all.
- Vacuum isn’t pulling itself along like it used to
Cleaning the agitator:
The agitator is the part of the vacuum that spins and can go by many names like brush bar, roller brush, and beater bar. Its job is to literally agitate the carpet fibers, loosening hair and debris so the suction can carry it away. If hair and string are built-up around the bristles it cannot effectively clean the carpeting. Typically you would clean the agitator as part of the routine belt change, but if your home has pets or people with long hair it should be checked more frequently. Additionally, some vacuums (like the Miele’s) use a cogged or serpentine belt, which do not need to be replaced as frequently, but the agitator still needs to be cleaned.
- Unplug the vacuum
- Flip it over so you’re looking at the agitator
- Remove the baseplate / cover
- Use a knife or scissors to cut away the build up
- Pull the debris out and dispose of
- Clean the end caps / bearings to prevent the agitator from seizing
Vacuum Filter Maintenance:
Much like a filter in your car vacuum filters helps to protect the motor. If filters aren’t changed or washed regularly small particles will clog the pores in the filter material. This prevents the air from flowing through the vacuum as intended. As a result you will notice a drastic reduction in suction and put your motor at risk.
Traditional vacuum rely on the air sucked in to the vacuum to cool the motor. When you use a vacuum with clogged filters the motor isn’t being cooled down and can cause it to overheat or work harder than intended. This will put strain on the motor, and potentially reduce the life expectancy of the machine.
Vacuum Maintenance FAQ’s
Q: My vacuum has a HEPA filter that should be replaced, but I can just bang it on the garbage can instead, right? A: No! Over time small dust particles will clog the holes in the filter material. While you can shake the dirt off there is still dirt you can’t see clogging the filter.
Q: My vacuum has a washable filter, but I’ve never washed it. What should I do? A: Wash it right away and leave to dry for 24 hours. Most washable filters need to be cleaned every 3 to 12 months. If left for too long the filter can be damaged and clogged to the point where replacement is the only option.
Q: My vacuum hose is cracked / spilt, can I put tape on it? A: Technically speaking you can put take on a damaged hose. However, we do not recommend it. This will always be a weak point in the vacuum and regardless of how good of a tape-job it is air will find it’s way out causing suction issues.
What you shouldn’t use your vacuum to clean:
- During the fall and winter months its common for entry mats to become damp with tracking in mud, rain, and snow. You should not use your vacuum to clean wet / damp surfaces and extra care should be taken around doorways this time of year.
- As we enter into the holiday season many homes opt for real Christmas trees. While they do look beautiful they can be a pain to clean up after. It is tempting to use your vacuum to suck up the needles that scatter across your home, but due to their rigid structure and length they have a tendency to get lodged in vacuum wands and hoses. As soon as one needle gets stuck it can cause a backlog of debris. This results in suction loss and potential damage.
- For every Pinterest Hack that suggests using baking soda as a carpet shake / deodorizer there’s a dead vacuum to show why you shouldn’t. Unless you have a commercial grade vacuum with proper filters you should not use your vacuum to pick up ultra fine particles. This includes drywall dust, cement dust, and baking soda. The material can pass through the filters and get into the motor compartment causing the motor to seize … and you looking for a new vacuum.