5 Reasons Why Your Vacuum Cleaner Has Lost Its Suction

Home » 5 Reasons Why Your Vacuum Cleaner Has Lost Its Suction

Now that spring has officially sprung, you may be considering some serious spring cleaning. You can be forgiven for not dragging out the vacuum cleaner as often as you should have for the past few months, but now that the change of season has really motivated you to keep your home’s floors and carpeting clean, you may be disappointed to discover your vacuum cleaner has lost its suction.

Is there a reason for this? Actually, Repair Clinic has five likely reasons why your vacuum just rolls across the floor leaving the lint, pet hair, or dried cereal noticeably undisturbed. These five reasons are directly related to appliance maintenance or component failure and can affect all types of vacuum cleaners.

A refresher on how vacuum cleaners work

Do you use a classic upright vacuum cleaner? Perhaps you own on a canister vacuum for normal use and a wet/dry vacuum for more thorough cleaning. Those with larger homes may find that a central vacuum system which has vacuum ports installed in the walls is a must, whereas those living in smaller spaces such as a dorm room may get by with a hand-held model. Regardless of what type of vacuum cleaner is being used, all of these products have a motor to create the negative pressure, or suction, necessary to draw in the dust and debris.

How a vacuum cleaner motor creates suction

When the start switch on a vacuum cleaner is activated, 120 volts of alternating current is sent to a motor that drives a fan blade or blower wheel to create an area of low pressure behind that blade or wheel. This low pressure creates the suction which draws air through the intake port. The air will carry dust, lint, dirt, and other debris through a hose and into a porous bag or a canister before the clean air exits through an exhaust port. If the vacuum cleaner uses a bag to collect all this debris, that bag must allow the air to pass through it while trapping the debris in order for the unit to continue to provide adequate suction. If the unit uses a canister, a particulate filter will allow air to travel through the system while holding back the dust and dirt. Before the air is exhausted on these models, it will travel through a fine air filter known as a HEPA filter to clean the air and prevent dust from recirculating back into the room.

The vacuum cleaner brushroll increases efficiency on carpeting or rugs

When using a vacuum cleaner on a hard surface such as wood or tile, the vacuum suction alone should be enough to draw the debris into the bag or canister. But when vacuuming carpeting or rugs, a spinning brushroll will increase efficiency by helping to dislodge the debris particles from the material being vacuumed. Some models allow the user to switch from hard floor care to carpet care by activating a lever that applies tension to the belt. If applicable, the vacuum cleaner will then engage or disengage the brushroll using a tension pulley.

Troubleshooting your vacuum cleaner’s loss of suction

If you find your vacuum cleaner just isn’t sucking up the dust, lint, and hair like it used to, these are the five potential causes you should troubleshoot:

1) Clogged air filter – As noted above, vacuum cleaners may use one or more air filters to trap dust and dirt as the air travels through the product. The filters can become clogged over weeks of use, reducing the vacuum cleaner’s suction. You should clean the filters periodically following the manufacturer’s instructions, but a significantly soiled filter should be replaced with a new one for optimal operation.

2) Overfilled vacuum bag or canister – Over the course of numerous cleaning sessions, the vacuum cleaner’s bag or canister can become overfilled and impede the product’s ability to pick up new debris. You can avoid this problem by emptying the bag or canister after each use. If you have a canister vacuum, you should clean the canister periodically to ensure the vacuum will continue functioning at its best. If the vacuum uses a bag, replace the bag with a new one regularly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

3) Obstructed vacuum hose – An obstructed vacuum hose will also reduce or prevent suction. Detach the hose and inspect it for any objects blocking the airflow. You can use a thin brush or compressed air to help dislodge the obstruction.

4) Obstructed fan blade or blower wheel – The vacuum cleaner’s fan blade or blower wheel could be obstructed as well, preventing the component from spinning and creating the area of low pressure needed for suction. If you don’t see an obstruction blocking the fan blade or blower wheel, try turning the blade or wheel by hand. If the component does not spin freely, then the suction problem is likely caused by a…

5) Defective blower motor – The bearings in the blower motor may have seized and the motor is unable to spin the fan blade or blower wheel. In this case, you will need to replace the old motor with a new one to fix the suction problem. However, if the fan blade or blower wheel does turn freely, the failure of the blower motor could be caused by a damaged motor brush. Some vacuum cleaner motors use two motor brushes to conduct the electrical current between a stator and rotor in the motor. One or both of these brushes could be damaged which will prevent the motor from running. Depending on the model, you may be able to replace the brushes instead of the entire motor to solve the problem. We recommend replacing both brushes at the same time so they will wear down evenly.

Vacuum Cleaner Has No Suction? Top 5 Reasons

Repair solutions from Repair Clinic put you in the know

Whether you DIY it around the house or you’re a professional who makes fixing things a vocation, Repair Clinic can be your repair partner when it comes to finding repair solutions and the parts you need for those repairs. Repair Clinic’s “Videos & Articles” library will put you in the know with thousands of troubleshooting and procedural videos, articles, step-by-step guides, and schematics. Curious as to why a vacuum cleaner belt keeps breaking? There’s a video to explain the cause. Looking for some vacuum cleaner maintenance tips? You’ll find that too, along with information covering all other home appliances, outdoor power equipment, and heating and cooling units.

Choose genuine OEM vacuum cleaner parts

Repair Clinic encourages you to choose genuine OEM vacuum cleaner parts when maintaining or fixing your Hoover, Eureka, Bissell, Electrolux, Dirt Devil, Oreck, or Panasonic vacuum. A genuine manufacturer part is intended to work specifically with your vacuum cleaner model so you can be assured the product will function the way it’s supposed to without prematurely breaking down. Repair Clinic makes it easy to find the genuine OEM part you’re looking for; just enter the full model number of the vacuum cleaner in the Repair Clinic search bar to see a complete list of compatible parts, from replacement vacuum cleaner bags and air filters to fan blades and blower wheels, drive belts, motors, and switches.

Repair Clinic VIP Email

Join the Repair Clinic VIP email list for updates and special offers!

Scroll to Top