5 low-cost vacuum repairs you can do yourself

When it's worth fixing a vacuum cleaner and when it's not

Published: January 17, 2014 03:45 PM

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Kirby Sentria upright vacuum

When is a broken vacuum cleaner too old to repair and when is it worth saving? According to Consumer Reports' latest surveys, upright vacuum cleaners usually aren't worth fixing after five years and canisters after seven years. But some repairs make sense even on an older vacuum, provided the repair is no more than half of the cost of a comparable new model. Here are five low-cost repairs you can do yourself.
Problem: Vacuum is especially hard to push across carpeting.
Solution: Simply raise the height a notch on machines with a manual carpet-height adjustment—not too high, though, or carpet cleaning will suffer.
Cost: Free.
Brush roll barely turns, if it turns at all, when it should.
Solution: Check the brush roll for hair, fabric, and other debris. Otherwise, you'll need a new belt, brush roll, or both.
Cost: $3 to $40.
Problem: Weak suction with no clog in the hose.
Solution: For a bagless vacuum, clean or replace filters, which trap dirt and protect the motor. For a bagged vacuum, replace the bag.
Cost: $10 to $70 for filters that aren't washable.
Problem: Paper clips or other items get stuck in hose.
Solution: Use a broomstick to clear the clog.
Cost: Free.
Problem: Vacuum quits while vacuuming.
Solution: Many vacuums have an overload switch that cuts power if the motor gets too hot. Let the motor cool for a few minutes, then restart. Also check for a full bag or bin, and for clogs—common causes of overheating.
Cost: Free.

The best from our tests
If your vacuum is beyond repair, see the results of our tests of upright, canister, robotic, and small vacuums. Our top canister vacuum is the Kenmore Progressive 21714, $400, which was aces at cleaning bare floors and pet hair and very good at carpets. We also recommend canisters from Miele and Panasonic. Kenmore also took the top spot in our upright vacuum tests with the Kenmore Elite 31150, $350, followed closely by models from Miele and Kirby.

For more information on vacuums, see our full vacuum Ratings and recommendations. And if you're considering a repair for a large appliance, mower or snow blower read, "Repair or Replace."

—Ed Perratore

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