How to fix your vacuum cleaner

Checking for obstructions; changing a drive belt

Caution: Unplug the vacuum cleaner before doing any work on it.

If a vacuum cleaner fails to work properly, first check that the dust bag isn’t full. When replacing the bag, check the condition of the filter and clean it, if necessary. Replace the filter at least once a year.

In a canister vacuum cleaner, check for obstructions in the hose and attachments. Plug the hose into the exhaust port, if there is one; run the other end into a paper bag and turn on the motor. Or try pushing a broom handle through the hose. If there are no obstructions and air flow is weak, the hose probably has a hole or split and will have to be replaced.

In a vacuum cleaner with a beater brush, cleaning action may be poor because of a problem with the beater. Lay the machine on its side, remove the metal plate, and see if the rubber belt that connects the beater with the motor is worn or broken. To replace it, release the old belt and lift out the beater bar. insert a new belt (available at a dealer, or hardware or department store); reset the bar. There should be an arrow indicating which way to twist the belt. If not, turn on the cleaner briefly; the beater should rotate from front to back. If it doesn’t, reverse the twist in the belt. Replace the plate.

If the belt is intact, but the beater doesn’t turn, remove the beater and check for tangled hair or threads that could be impeding the action.

Poor cleaning action can also result from worn brushes: they should extend below the bottom plate. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing brushes. If they’re not available, replace the entire beater bar.