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How to Troubleshoot a Poor Performing Vacuum Cleaner

A poorly performing vacuum cleaner can be the result of a number of fixable problems. The key to addressing a vacuum’s deficiency is accurately locating the culprit. Your machine could be performing below standard because of a worn or broken brush-roll, congested air flow through the filters or bag, or a mechanical problem within the motor. Find the reason or reasons to explain the lackluster performance and repair or replace the parts to return your vacuum to its best most productive performance. 


The brush roll is the part of the vacuum cleaner that makes direct contact with the carpet or rug. A worn or broken brush roll will not allow the design of the cleaner to work in unison and the suction will suffer. Remove the plate on the bottom of your vacuum cleaner’s cleaning head to inspect the brush roll. The bristles should be standing erect, away from the brush roll and not tangled with carpet fibers or hair. If there are excessive entanglements, remove them with a knife or scissors.

Clogged hose

A clogged hose is often the cause of a lack of suction. Many times a piece of clothing or some other impediment can get stuck inside the hose and close off the cleaner’s cleaning head and attachments from the suction source (motor). Remove the hose from the cleaner to inspect it fully. Make sure you are able to see light through the hose to ensure there is no major obstruction. To further inspect the hose, take a wire hanger and force it into each end of the hose to look for dust balls that may be gathered away from either end.

Full or blocked bag

The suction or airflow power of the vacuum cleaner is only as strong as an exhaust allows. The way the cleaner exhausts the air it brings in is through the bag or system of filters. Check to see if your cleaner’s bag is full and replace any bag that is more than ¾ full. Remove the removable filters on your vacuum cleaner and clean them following the directions supplied for your particular make and model. Be sure to avoid getting the filters wet unless the care guide for your specific model recommends using water. Water used to clean filters that are not intended to be wet will ruin the filters and require replacement.

Damaged motor or fan

The main driver of airflow within your vacuum is that flow that is generated by the fan inside your cleaner’s motor. Follow the directions to uncover your vacuum’s motor and visually inspect the fan. A fan that is broken, worn, or melted will lead to a compromised performance and should be repaired immediately. Replacing the motor fan is commonly a task best left to an experienced repairperson. 

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