3 easy fixes that'll keep your old vaccum running

Check the filter, brush, hose, and other key parts

Published: September 25, 2014 08:00 AM

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If you do routine maintenance, a vacuum you’ve had for even three to five years should perform about as well as the day you bought it—at least until the motor quits. Here’s how to ensure a long life for yours plus the best vacuum cleaners from Consumer Reports' tests in case you need a new one.

Give it a routine check. Run a full system check every other month. Start with your filters; if they’re dirty, rinse and dry them. (If there’s a HEPA filter, replace it when it’s noticeably dirty.) Replace the bag or empty the bin if full. Next, check the brush roll for wrapped-up hair and fibers, and remove what you find. Inspect the hose and connections to look for cracks and leaks that could diminish performance.

Don’t give up on picking up. Just because your vacuum isn’t sucking up everything in one pass doesn’t mean that it’s destined for the trash heap. Cleaning pros recommend that you make at least seven passes to pick up not just surface dirt but also fine debris that can get trapped deep in the carpet’s fibers. (Our testers make eight passes per swath of carpet.) If your vacuum doesn’t inhale at least the surface litter after multiple passes, check that the brush roll is turning and that airflow isn’t blocked.

A vacuum that stops dead may not be dead. If your vacuum shuts off suddenly, check the belt. Most vacs have one that will break or disengage to protect the motor from something the vacuum can’t handle, such as shoelaces or socks. (Keep a spare belt on hand.) Some vacuums have a circuit breaker, which shuts down the motor if it meets significant resistance. It also prevents the motor from overheating because of a clog. Most can be reset afterward by unplugging the vacuum and letting it cool down. Check for and clear any blockages while you’re waiting.

Kenmore 22614

Best vacuums from our tests

At Consumer Reports we test vacuums of all types and sizes, and in a wide price range. Here the top model of each type in our tests.

For more choices, check our full vacuum Ratings and recommendations. Our vacuum cleaner buying guide will help you choose the best vacuum for your home.

—Ed Perratore (@edperratore on Twitter)

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