The Road to Suck-cess: Essential Vacuum Maintenance Tips

Vacuum Maintenance Tips

Image by Jessica Spengler

Where would we be without the vacuum cleaner? It's a gliding, sucking, dirt-busting bastion of the modern home, effortlessly keeping our abodes looking immaculate and filth-free.

Those of us of a certain age will also remember this miraculous home appliance was immortalised in a Shake 'n Vac ad, and, more recently, a rather amusing, Exorcist-inspired Dirt Devil commercial.

It's an indispensable godsend in our dwelling – and that means all the more reason to look after it.

If you want to keep your vacuum in good condition, keep it running for years and get the most out of your bagged (or bagless) best friend, a little spot of TLC goes a long way.

Our guide to a few basic but well-worth-it maintenance and cleaning measures will keep your vacuum merrily dust-busting for a long time to come.

Belt Maintenance

Just as you'd carry out a regular oil check and change with your car, so you should keep the belt well maintained. The belt connects your motor to the brush roll, and if it doesn't have sufficient traction on the brush roll then the motor won't turn – and that means your vacuum won't be cleaning at its maximum capacity.

Don't wait for the belt to break before you change it, as the belt is made of rubber and will lose a lot of its traction and effectiveness a while before it actually breaks. A good rule of thumb is to change the belt every 3 months.

Bag Maintenance

Paper Bag

Usually an indicator will appear instructing you to change the bag when required, so you should do it then. If you don't, then it will automatically check the bag before you use it to ensure it's not more than 3 quarters full or has exceeded the bag's fill line.

The more the bag fills up with dirt and dust the more your vacuum will lose airflow and suction and consequently won't clean as effectively. If the bag overfills it will clog up the machine and leave piles of dirt everywhere.

Inner Cloth Bag

Check the bag every time before you use it to ensure it's not more than 3 quarters full, otherwise you'll end up with the same unfortunate mess as with paper bags. Some cloth bags are machine washable – if yours is, wash it every time you empty it; just make sure you've got another bag as a back-up so you can still vacuum while the dirty one's being washed.



Most pre-filters can be found behind or below the bag in the bag housing, or in the bagless canister cup. The majority of pre-filters are washable, and it's a good idea to clean them using a mild soap and water when they're visibly dirty. Ensure the filter is completely dry before you install the filter. If the filter becomes too full then the air won't pass through it and the suction will be reduce the vacuum's cleaning ability.

Motor Filter

This filter is also sometimes called a noise reduction device as it serves a dual purpose. The motor filter should be washed annually with soap and water and left to air dry. Because it requires the motor to be removed and re-attached, this should be carried out by someone with electrical experience.

Exhaust Filter

Filters come in a variety of guises and this is the last one the air passes through before it's released back into the air. Better quality vacuums have HEPA filters or a filtrate which can't be washed but should be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer's handbook.

Brush Roll/Agitator

Every vacuum designed to clean carpet has a roll brush. You should check it every time to make sure there's not a mass of hair, string or other debris built up in the bristles – if there is, remove it from the roll brush.

Plastic and wooden roll brushes are prone to splinter if they pick up things such as rocks or screws, and this can cause damage to the carpet, so don't use the vacuum if you notice a splinter and replace the roll brush immediately.

Check every 3-6 months that the length of the bristles still reaches past the plane of the bottom plate. If they don't, you'll need to consult the manufacturer's manual to rotate the end caps, replace the brush roll or, if you have metal brush roll, slide out the old strips and replace them with new ones.

Impellor or Fan

This should only be replaced if your machine doesn't have a bypass system. Direct systems are not good as everything picked up goes through the motor then the collection bag, and can result in a lot of damage and a costly repair bill. You can tell if there's something wrong because the vacuum will sound louder than usual and/or it will vibrate a lot.

Motor Bearing

If the vacuum emits a loud squealing sound when you switch it off, that's not a good sign. It could mean that you need to get new bearings, have the bearing repacked, or replace the whole motor. This will depend on the make and model of your vacuum. Whatever the reason, it's a repair job that should only be carried out by an experienced repair specialist.

Cleaning and Servicing

Perhaps the most important maintenance item on the list is making sure your vacuum is cleaned and serviced annually. The cost of this generally depends on the make and model and its complexity.

A typical service will involve:

  • Taking the vacuum apart down to the motor
  • Cleaning it
  • Inspecting it for damage
  • Replacing filters, bags and belts

It's a practical, sensible thing to do every year to keep the machine in solid working order and minimise any unpleasant repair costs.

At Ransom Spares, we have a huge stock of vacuum cleaner spares, parts, bags and belts. Alternatively you can browse our DIY vacuum cleaner repair resource, or call us for immediate, expert domestic appliance advice.

By Lee Gilbert

Category: Articles, News & Tips

Lee Gilbert
Author By Lee Gilbert
Date On 1st Sep 2014 at 13:08

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