Four ways to make your vacuum work like new

How to make your vacuum suck, in a good way.

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The Eureka Brushroll Clean Vacuum Cleaner has washable filters.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If your vacuum just doesn't have the suction power to once did or just doesn't seem to get your floors clean, then there are several things you can do to improve its performance. None of these tips take more than a few minutes and some basic tools.

Unclog it

First and foremost, check for any clogs in your hoses and remove the clogs with these tips. Next, be sure to empty the bag or cup on a regular basis. Any amount of dirt and lint in the cup or bag of your vacuum can hinder its performance, so empty the cup every time you vacuum and empty the bag when it is at most two thirds full.

Check the brush

The rotating bush on the foot of the vacuum is called the beater brush. This brush basically combs lint, threads and hairs out of carpets. A little malfunction in the brush and your floors may stay dirty, no matter how many times you vacuum.

Threads and hairs can get tangled around the brush, making the bristles less effective. In extreme cases, wrapped up hair and threads can even stop the brush from turning or block suction. Once a week or so, flip your vacuum over and get a good look at the brush. If there is debris wrapped around it, use a sharp knife or scissors to cut it away.

Also, check the height of the brush. The brush height should be set for the type of flooring you're cleaning. Shag rugs need the highest brush setting while bare floors and low-pile carpets need the lowest setting to clean the floor properly. If you are using the lowest setting on a medium- to high-pile carpet or rug you are wearing out the brush unnecessarily. On the other hand, if you are using a high setting on a bare floor, the brush bristles probably aren't making contact with the floor and they aren't doing you much good.

After a year or so, you may need to replace your vacuum's beater brush. If the bristles seem to be squished, broken or are varying heights, it's time to replace the brush. These can be found online with the vacuum's brand and model of your vacuum cleaner.

Here is how to remove the beater brush:

  1. Remove the plate that holds the brush in place. Some models have clips that hold the plate into place while other have screws that need to be removed.
  2. Grab the bar on both sides and lift up. The bar should side out of a slot on each end.
  3. Slide the brush out of the rubber belt.

To place the new brush simply slide the belt around the belt slot on the brush (a groove the width of the belt which is usually found in the middle or on one side of the brush), slide the brush ends into the slot on each side of the opening and replace the plate.

Replace the drive belt

While you've got your vacuum turned over, take a look at the belt that wraps around the beater brush. This is called the drive belt. If it isn't stretched tight or seems to be cracked or torn, you need to replace it. This belt is what turns the beater brush. When it isn't working properly the beater brush doesn't clean properly.

Replace the filters

Most vacuums come with removable HEPA filter, which is the paper, accordion-like filter. They also come with a spongelike ring filter. Some vacuum models come with washable filters, while other filters need to be changed. These filters reduce suction when they are dirty, so they should be changed or cleaned regularly.

Your owner's manual should tell you what kind of filters you have, how to remove them and when to change them. If the filter looks dirty, though, you should probably switch it out for a new one or clean it since change times can vary depending on how often you vacuum and how dirty your floors tend to be.

The spongelike filter and washable filter can be washed by hand whenever you feel like they are getting a little grimy. Remove the filter and wash it with warm water and one drop of dishwashing liquid. Make sure to rinse it well and let it air-dry completely before putting it back into the vacuum.

Once you have everything clean and working properly you vacuum should work like new.

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