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Why Do Vacuum Cleaners Lose Suction?

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to vacuum a dirty floor and having the vacuum cleaner lose its suction. Chores are frustrating enough and when something happens to prolong the process, it can really weigh on getting things accomplished. But why does this happen?

Suction is primarily created by a fan motor on the device that creates a drop in pressure. This drop in pressure creates the suction that we feel when placing a hand to the bottom of a device or on hose extensions or simply by using the machine. The bottom of a vacuum cleaner has brushes that propel debris towards the suction and helps break it up into smaller pieces. It is all very much a system that relies on everything to be in working order. So what is the primary cause of loss of suction? Unfortunately, it is not a matter of one simple cause. There can more than one reason that is not immediately considered.

It's a common misconception that vacuum cleaners just can be plugged in and operate without any hiccups. No device is fault-free, even though it would be nice if there were! Suction based vacuum cleaners were invented around 1900 and throughout the years have undergone only a few changes. They originally were heavy and required belts and bags to operate. The suction based model was the one that really stuck out through the last century. The whole process begins with a drop in pressure. Simply put, this is what causes suction. While it may seem overly simple, there are some things to examine when investigating why vacuum cleaners lose their suction.

What Causes a Vacuum Cleaner to Lose Suction?

  • Dirty Filters

Filters are on modern vacuum cleaners and are used to keep the motor dust-free. Some devices even have more than one filter and the second filter is used as an exhaust filter. If either of these or one of these becomes too dirty, it will prevent the vacuum from being as powerful and the suction will significantly change. To reduce the costs of replacing this specific part, the filters are generally washable and can be rinsed cleaned and fully dried before placing them back into the machine.

  • Rotating Brush Stopped Rolling

The rotating brush at the bottom of a vacuum cleaner is there to help break up debris and propel it into the suction hole. If this roller fails to operate properly, this can result in a loss of suction. Things like hair, strings, etc can get tangled up around the roller and cause it to stop. Checking this piece of the vacuum will help to ensure it is clear, clean and functional!

  • Issues with the Air Flow

This is probably the most common cause among all others as to why vacuum cleaners lose suction. Any obstruction or issue concerning the airflow will prevent the machine from having full power. Obstructions can include things stuck somewhere along the path of getting from the bottom of the machine to the canister. In the case of some vacuum designs, the debris can actually travel through the house and through the handle at the top of the vacuum before being deposited into the canister. While this path seems a bit strange, there are some vacuum cleaners that have this method. In this case, it is necessary to take the handle apart and try to clear the obstruction. This can mean using a shop-vac to reach places that aren['t visible in the handle. However, objects stuck along the path of reaching the canister is not the only way there can be issues with airflow. A damaged hose can lessen the suction of a vacuum cleaner. Even the smallest crack or knick can expel air moving through the vacuum and stop suction from being as powerful. This can be remedied by the use of duct tape or even superglue to help seal the crack.

  • Rips in the Bag

For those who still use bagged vacuums, the issue of loss of suction can occur. This is usually a cut and dry problem to solve as it is most likely related to the bag. The bag is where all the debris is transported to. If there is a rip in this bag, the air being forced into the bag to propel the debris in it can be affected. As the rip stays, the air is continuously escaping which leads to loss of suction. While this is the most reasoning behind bagged vacuums having a loss of suction, they can also experience a loss of power in their motor. The motor is a common ground piece between older and newer models.

  • Motor Power Decreased

There is a motor on any type of vacuum, bagged or canister, and it can fail. The failure of a motor or decrease in its power will result in a loss of suction. The motor is the bread and butter of the machine, providing it with the energy to get the toughest of jobs completed. If this motor fails to be as powerful as it needs to be, the suction will suffer and the machine will not operate at optimal performance. A bad motor is a bad motor and the vacuum should be replaced.

  • The Floor Setting is Incorrect

Vacuums come with a setting that lowers or gives height to the bottom of the vacuum. This helps it pick up things on different floor types. This could be wood floors, vinyl, carpets, etc. Carpets are a big culprit as they are never the same thickness. While this is not directly related to a complete loss of suction, it does relate to a decrease in suction. Any decrease of suction is frustrating as well and the level of the bottom of the vacuum should be examined.

  • The Canister or Bag is Full

For absolute prime performance from a vacuum cleaner, the bag or canister should be emptied after every use. Creating this habit will ensure that no loss of suction happens. If the area where debris is supposed to go gets backed up and full, the vacuum will lose its ability to operate at full capacity.

How Do You Increase Vacuum Suction?

More suction means a more powerful cleaner. For people with pets or heavy traffic areas in the home like a front hallway or living room, having something more powerful is crucial. There are so many vacuums on the market from various big brands, but can suction be increased without the purchase of an expensive vacuum cleaner?

To start, it is important to check that the reasons behind which the vacuum has lost its suction are remedied. This includes emptying any bags or canisters, fixing floor settings, checking for obstructions, cleaning the filters, etc. The proper maintenance of vacuum cleaners and other household devices really helps to ensure its working to the best of its ability.

It is easy to take advantage of having something, especially technology, that makes our lives more convenient. However, there is more to it than just using it. Maintenance is just as important as the technology itself and it is ultimately up to the user to take good care of the machines. This maintenance can be achieved in various ways. Below are some common ways to remedy problems related to suction loss.

  • Use a broomstick or mop handle to clear clogged hoses.
  • Use duct tape or superglue for small cracks in hoses.
  • Rinse the filters (if they are printed on them that they are in fact washable!) and dry completely.
  • Empty the canister or replace the bag.

These are just simple solutions to keep the maintenance up for vacuum cleaners. More serious things like a motor failure should be assessed, as repairing a vacuum is sometimes not worth it.

Is it Worth Repairing a Vacuum Cleaner?

Vacuum cleaners, just like any handy gadget we own, are prone to show their age by loss of performance. While maintaining these machines as best as possible help prolong their life, in the long run, is it worth repairing the machine? This can be especially true for repairing a bad motor. To gauge whether or not its really worth repairing, it is important to consider some cost factors that would heavily weigh on this decision

Consider the cost of replacing filters for example. Depending on the filter, the cost can be affordable. They can range $10 and below (some companies offer universal filters for brands of vacuums) and go up to close to $80 for more expensive models. Filters are a commonly replaced item in a vacuum so there are solutions to spending the least as possible.

However, when it comes to motors or motors that can produce a burnt smell to them, it may be more costeffective to purchase a new vacuum. Vacuum cleaners do come more affordable these days for classic recognizable brand names. Even with classic choices at the right price, there are more pricey alternatives that may be a better investment. When purchasing an expensive model, it is critical to realize that problems can occur with these as well. Moreover, the loss of suction is a reoccurring issue with any brand of vacuum due the nature of why it happens. Any vacuum, no matter the price can get clogged or get a dirty filter or even get a crack in the house.

This is why it leads back to proper maintenance. Checking for these telltale signs will make for a longer use out of a vacuum.

How Long Can You Expect a Vacuum Cleaner to Last?

Nothing lasts forever! So it is important to be aware of the life expectancy of a vacuum cleaner. The average is considered to be about 8 years. However, it is completely dependant upon the care and use of the machine. It has been reported that brand matters and influences this number. For example, some models have been known to last from 5 to 15 years. It's no surprise that older models have outlasted newer modern versions, but even still, newer models are breaking that mold.

Commonly Related Asked Questions

  • What are some common differences in modern vacuums that exist today?

Vacuums have shapeshifted throughout the years, however, the overall mechanics behind how they work have not. Today there are vacuums that resemble old school models with a bulky feel to them, but recent years have shaved a bit off of them. The vacuums of today vary between traditional looking ones and stick vacuums. These vacuums have a long handle with the canister up top and the bottom with the brush roller and suction hole. This simple looking design is generally lightweight

  • Who invented the vacuum?

Hubert Cecil Booth and Daniel Hess are credited as creating the first suction based vacuum for the market around 1901. They were revolutionary to the vacuum industry and their concepts inspired the creation of many other designs of their powered machines. James Kirby, in about 1905, took the powered vacuumed concept and made the first domestic home cyclone vacuum. Kirby is still known to this day as a popular vacuum name.

Overtime, vacuums will lose their suction but having this insight into the reasons why and ways to fix it truly shines a bright light on the common problem!

Mime Petit

A home appliance enthusiast and creative writer.

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