How to Maintain a Vacuum Cleaner

Your vacuum cleaner doesn't need very much attention, but a little simple maintenance will keep it working and cleaning as efficiently as it can. Maintaining your vacuum cleaner properly can also head off more costly repairs or replacement.


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    Unplug your vacuum cleaner before performing any maintenance on it. A vacuum cleaner that turns on unexpectedly while you are working on it can injure you.Check to make sure your vacuum has a ground prong. If this is missing, DO NOT USE the vacuum. Contact your lead custodian for repair.
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    Check the bag regularly and replace it when it is full. A vacuum cleaner bag that is only 1/3 full may be too full to clean efficiently. Remember that the air must pass through all the collected dust and debris, so a full vacuum cleaner bag means that the machine must work harder, or that it will not clean as well, or both. Look for a line on the bag and feel with your hand to determine about how full it is.
    • If a working vacuum cleaner misses debris on the carpet or leaves behind fuzz where there was none, that's also a cue to check the bag.
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    Replace any vacuum bag that is 2/3 full. Read the directions on the vacuum cleaner, the bag, or in the manual. Regardless of the procedure, make sure that the bag is on all the way and secure, and that any clips or holders are in place.
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      Use the correct bag size and type for your machine.
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    Empty the bin or tray on bagless models frequently. Most designs make it very easy to pop the bin out.
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    Clean the brush roll. Also called a beater bar, this is the spinning brush underneath that brushes dirt out of the carpets.
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      Look under the machine and locate the brush roll. Generally, it will be across the front of the bottom. If it is full of hair, thread, or other debris, it is time to clean it.
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      Remove the bottom plate. This cover may have clips or latches, or it may have a couple of screws holding it in place. Don't lose the screws.
    • Notice the direction that the brush roll goes in. Usually, there will be a belt on one side and a corresponding track or space on the brush roll for the belt. This will help you to identify the direction.
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      Remove the brush roll. Generally, it will pull out of a slot on either end, then slide out from under the belt.
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      Use scissors or just your fingers to clean the brushes. They don't need to be spotless, but you should remove any hair or string that is wrapped around the brush. Pay special attention to the ends near the bearings and to the area around where the belt engages. A seam ripper (you can get one at a sewing goods store) works very well to cut the thinnest of hairs and strings wrapped around the brush.
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    Clean and lubricate the bearings on the brush roll.
    • Spin the brush roll on its axle with your fingers, to verify that it spins freely. If it doesn't, you may need to clean out the bearings more thoroughly, lubricate the bearings, replace the bearings, or replace the entire brush roll (in ascending order of expense).
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      Remove any debris around and in the bearings. Before you take the bearings out, notice which way they went so you can put them back in correctly.
    • Remove the cap on the other end. Both caps are usually on one long axle, so you may need to hold the end of the axle still to remove the second cap. Clean and lubricate the bearing on the other end.
    • Replace both bearings in the direction that they were before and replace both end caps.
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    Check the belt for signs of wear, and replace it if it is worn.
    • Remove any cover plates on the bottom, as you would to clean the brush roll.
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      Pull on the belt with your fingers. It should be very taut.
    • Compare the belt to an unused belt. If it is stretched out or narrower than the new belt, replace it.
    • Check that the belt is in the right place. If it has slid off the drive shaft on its own or shifted out of position, it is probably because it is worn and loose.
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      Look for cracks, unevenness, or melted or worn spots.
    • Replace the belt every 6 months to 1 year, depending on how much use your vacuum cleaner sees.
    • Remove the brush roll as above.
    • Slide the belt off of the pulley or drive shaft.
    • Slide the new belt on over the pulley or drive shaft.
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    Remove any large accumulations of debris from the air passages and the brush roll housing.
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    Replace the brush roll.
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      Put the brush roll back through the belt. It may be very tight.
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      Replace the brush roll in its slots. Make sure that the belt is still over both the brush roll and the drive shaft.
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      Replace the cover plates, reversing the process you used to remove them.
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    Replace or clean any filters on the vacuum cleaner. Many newer model vacuums have filters on the exhaust air to catch particles that remain in it. Read your manual to find out if yours has these, and clean or replace them periodically if it does.
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      If the filter is made out of foam or plastic, you may be able to rinse it clean. Make sure it is thoroughly dry before replacing it in the vacuum cleaner.
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      If the filter is made out of paper or fabric, you may be able to shake or pound out the debris between replacements.
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    Check the hoses for clogs and obstructions. It doesn't happen very often, but if you have lost suction, try pushing a broomstick gently through the hoses to dislodge any larger clumps of debris that are stuck. A hook made from bent coat hanger wire can also be used to pull out or loosen clogs.
    • Be careful not to pack clogs in even more tightly.
    • Handle a coat hanger wire carefully, or it could puncture the hose.


  • Don't vacuum up large objects. Pick up trash, pennies, etc. with your hands or use a broom.
  • Never run the machine to the end of the cord so that the plug pulls out of the wall outlet while the machine is running. This will cause an electric arc which will damage the prongs on the plug. It could also damage the cord.
  • The power cord is a weak point on vacuum cleaners, so avoid getting it hung up on furniture, or other obstructions. Also avoid running over it with the roller brush.
  • Turn off your vacuum immediately if you hear or feel it struggling or if you accidentally roll over anything you shouldn't. An abrupt change in the loudness or the tone of the noise usually indicates a problem. Unplug it, check for and remove any obstructions, then plug it back in and listen carefully when you restart it.
  • Perform maintenance proactively to prevent more severe problems. They vacuums were assigned to each individual of the district and it is the individuals responsibility to maintain the vacuum and clean it daily.
  • Do not vacuum up large chunks of ROCK SALT. Sweep the rock salt off with a broom and then vacuum up smaller pieces. Never sweep a floor and sweep your pile onto a rug and vacuum it up. This is considered laziness and abuse of your vacuum cleaner.
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    Some vacuum cleaners have a device that stops the machine if it overheats. If your vacuum cleaner cuts out, unplug it, wait for a period of time. Some of our new vacuums have a reset switch right on the base.Check your manual . Check for obstructions or other problems, and carefully turn it on again.
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    On an upright with on-board tools, always insert the hose securely into its place when vacuuming floors. Any leak of air at this point will cost you cleaning power.


  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner outdoors or to vacuum liquids unless it is designed for this purpose.
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    Always unplug a vacuum cleaner before working on it. The moving parts can cause injury, especially if they start unexpectedly.
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    Keep an eye on the cord for breaks in the insulation. If you see any breaks in it, and especially if you see wire through the outer rubber covering, do not use the vacuum cleaner until the cord has been properly repaired or replaced.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Replacement bags of the right size
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper (optional)
  • Replacement belts
  • Replacement filters
  • Lubricant (check owners manual for type of lubricant to use) Don't use WD-40 as this will work for a short time but will eventually harden and gunk up. A household lubricant such as 3 in One Oil is your best bet.

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