Troubleshoot: What’s Wrong with my Vacuum Cleaner?

AAA Print

Having trouble with your vacuum cleaner? You may find your solution in some of the most common vacuum cleaner troubleshooting questions and answers.

My vacuum has lost power completely – Do I need a new one?

Relax. Your motor probably hasn’t died. A number of factors may cause your vacuum to lose power so you’ll have to do a little detective work:

  • Make sure the vacuum is plugged in completely and that your wall outlet has power.
  • Check your vacuum’s power cord to make sure it isn’t frayed or otherwise damaged. If the problem is a damaged cord, you may be able to repair it yourself by reconnecting exposed wires and covering the area with electrical tape.
  • Remove the plastic covering over the area where the cord connects to your vacuum and check this connection. If the cord has become separated from the machine, match wires of the same color and twist them together again with needle nosed pliers. Cover the area with electrical tape and reattach the plastic cover.

Remember to unplug your vacuum cleaner from the outlet before repairing the cord. If you’re uncomfortable working with electric repairs, don’t hesitate to have them done by a professional.

Troubleshoot: What’s Wrong with my Vacuum Cleaner? |

My vacuum only hums a little when I flip on the switch – why won’t it actually run?

A motor that hums but doesn’t fully turn on indicates that the fans are probably obstructed. Take apart your vacuum cleaner and remove any debris or foreign objects you find clogging up the fans.

Why won’t my vacuum brush spin anymore?

If your brushes won’t spin, chances are you either have a broken belt, or long hair has wrapped around the brush, preventing it from spinning. You’ll have to remove two to four screws to take off the base of the machine and check. You’ll find the belt at the end of the beater bar. If the belt is broken, stretched or worn, simply replace it with the model number recommended by your manufacturer and reassemble your vacuum cleaner.

Inspect your brushes and remove any hair, string or other debris that may be getting in the way. A seam ripper or scissors are the best tools for slicing a line down the hair on the brush.

Why does my vacuum smell so terrible?

Many of the things you vacuum up begin to develop a bad odor over time. Moist debris may bring mold, food items decay over time and animal hair contains oils that smell when they’re contained for a long time. Here’s what you need to do keep your vacuum fresh:

  • Empty it out: Change vacuum bags and dump contents of bagless vacuum cleaners regularly.
  • Wash the filters: Remove filters and wash with mild liquid detergent and cool water. Make sure filters dry completely before reinstalling.
  • Add some fragrance: Put a sheet of scented fabric softener into each new vacuum bag or empty canister.
  • Wash the hoses: Remove hoses and follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. Replace hoses when they are completely dry.
  • Deodorize with baking soda: Pour about a half-cup of baking soda on your floor and then vacuum it up.

Why did my vacuum lose its suction?

If your vacuum cleaner suddenly stops picking up dirt, one of these problems is most likely the culprit:

  • Obstructed hose: Check hose and remove any trapped debris.
  • Leaky hose: Check hose for tears and repair with masking or duct tape.
  • Full vacuum: Change the vacuum bag or dump contents of bagless vacuum.
  • Dirty filters: Wash or replace filters to increase suction.

Ouch! Why am I getting shocked when I vacuum?

A frayed power cord is the usual suspect when it comes to shocks. If your cord is damaged, then repair or replace it. If you find the shocks are coming from the vacuum itself, you’ll need to take it to a professional for repair.

Why am I blowing a household fuse or tripping a circuit breaker when I vacuum?

The problem may be in your household circuitry. Check to see how many appliances are running on that particular circuit. You may have to be more careful about how many appliances you use at once, or upgrade your electric service.

A short circuit in your vacuum’s power cord or plug may also overload your circuits. If this is the case, repair or replace the cord.

Luckily most vacuum cleaner issues are fairly easy fixes. Regular vacuum maintenance your vacuum will make your life even easier by helping you avoid many of these issues in the first place.



Last Updated: January 5, 2013
AAA Print

About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.