Tear it Apart: Why does your vacuum break?

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Gordon Gunn has been elbow-deep in vacuums since 1969. The most common problem he sees is broken belts which can happen to almost any machine. But his shop, Vacuum City, repairs one type of vacuum more often than others.

"The ones with the hose attachments on board, they're what's called bypass suction and you got to go up, down, around, under before you get to the floor. They all have HEPA filters that will clog in about 3 months," said Gunn.

When the filter clogs, the hose loses suction causing you to spend money on new filters and professional cleanings.

"To change a $3 belt is a $100 repair," he said.

The suction on the base is located on the side as opposed to the middle.

"It's a physical impossibility to get suction all the way across a head on an upright with hose attachments. You're missing two thirds of the dirt in your carpet," Gunn explained. "This one's 1949, still runs fine. It was made right the first time with the right materials. When they're made right, they're easier to take apart."

Gordon thinks plastic was the worst thing that could have happened to vacuums.

"There is good plastic and bad plastic and a lot of what you find in today in department store vacuums is bad plastic," he said.

Which can warp and break, making the machines difficult to work with.

"No plastic vacuum seals tight," Gunn added.

It you need to dismantle your vacuum, it should be simple.

"Unless their goal is to continue to sell you a new machine every two years and then they'll make them impossible to take apart and fix. If you get something that's a good design, vacuums should last 15, 20 years or longer," Gunn said.

Gordon says avoid vacuuming anything that's not dirt. Commercial carpet deodorizers plaster dust or anything gritty can easily clog a vacuum, causing the motor to overheat.  

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