10 Pitfalls That Are Shortening Your Vacuums Lifespan

caring for vacuum cleaner

You may assume your vacuum to be a rugged, all-terrain appliance that can go anywhere, do anything – basically a hands-off, self-maintained cleaning tool, that should have a long, projected lifespan. But unfortunately, you would be dead wrong. A lack of care can drastically reduce its life, not to mention, cost you a lots of aggravation. So if you want to go that route and love shopping for a vacuum, here’s what you have to do.

Ignore Dirty Filters

Don’t even peek at the filters, they’re just design fluff. Vacuums usually have at least one filter and where it is located on the machine depends on your particular vacuum model.

Not sure where the filters are?

Check your product manual. Some filters are washable; some replaceable. Ignoring filters altogether will result in restricted air flow and suction. And your vacuum can begin blowing nasty smells because of dirty filter.

Overstuffing the Bin or Bag

Everyone wants to save money and time, so why not overstuff that dirt bin or bag. It can take it, especially if the vacuum has lots of power. Well, not really. Overstuffing taxes your vacuum’s suction power and increases the risk of debris and dust heading straight to the motor. It can also split the bag, but you won’t know it and you guessed it – dust takes a short detour –> motor. Think of it as your vacuum having an asthma attack.

If you want to maintain good suction and performance, you should always clear/empty the dirt bin or change the bag when it is three-quarter’s full or less. You read that right, I did say three-quarter’s full. A waste you say? Not compared to the cost of a new vacuum.

A bagless vacuum’s clear bin is surely a smart and convenient design, but unfortunately, it doesn’t incinerate the dirt on contact – that would be very nice.

Allow String, Debris to Accumulate in the Brushes

The vacuum brushes are a good place to store a collection of pet hair, thread and other debris, you’ll know exactly where to find an elastic, when you need one. But, don’t complain that your vacuum doesn’t suck dirt up anymore, because it’s a little tough for air and dirt to get through (cough, cough) a tangled web. All that on-board debris also tends to add some drag on powerhead motors and wears on bushings too.

HEPA Can Look After Itself

Doesn’t the term HEPA really mean some kind of dust collector and blaster? Well, part of that is true. A HEPA filter is supposed to gather those minute particles of dust that the other filter didn’t capture. But, it’s your job to blast them out, not the vacuum’s. Some are washable; some are replaceable.

Which type is your’s?

Refer to your all-important manual for the answer to that piece of trivia. If you want your HEPA vacuum to become a non-HEPA model in a hurry, just leave this important filter to fend for itself.

Your Vacuum Can Handle Anything

Small socks, tissues, baby’s mittens, dried plant leaves, Lego┬«’s, you name it – the list could be huge and the vacuum can have anything it can chew. That could be a good way to round up and pair missing socks or at least give you a starting place to look for missing items.

After all, even the care manual doesn’t exactly lay out your vacuum’s ideal diet. So go ahead, allow things to get stuck here and there, clog and hog the space, reducing your vacuum’s suction abilities, until you either discard and replace it or have to take precious time from your busy schedule, to disassemble and clear the obstruction(s). How do you do that? Check the manual for maintenance tips of course. And you want your vacuum’s demise to be really quick, never mind the occasional sock, just use it to pick up sheet rock dust. That has a tendency to by-pass the best multi-layered filters – motor.

Any Cheap Vacuum Bag Will do

So you do have a good routine of changing bags as needed – that’s great. And since you’re frugal, any old vacuum bag will suffice. After all, aren’t vacuum bags pretty well generic in a one-type-fits-all kind of way? You might find it hard to jam a bag in though because they do come in different sizes, but if you’re resourceful, you’ll find a way.

Special features like multiple layers for good dust control probably isn’t one of your concerns either. It won’t take long though, the wrong bag in your vacuum will eventually allow dirt to migrate to motor. So, if this is your standard of care, start your vacuum shopping now. Why wait till the motor conks out?

A Little Water or Wet Mess – No Problem

While it may save you some time right now if you vacuum a wet toddler cereal mess and your vacuum doesn’t seem like it’s objecting, what you don’t see will undoubtedly cost you. Unless it is designed as a wet & dry model, which most household vacuums are not, you might want to keep your machine well clear of anything wet or moist. Unless, that is, you’re ready to shop for a new vacuum.

Odd Vacuum Noises? Just Drown Them Out

Why bother to investigate those abnormal squeaks, squeals, howls and growls – just adjust the volume on your MP3. There, isn’t music a treat for the senses? Your vacuum may have to shout louder to get your attention, but it could be too late by then. Unusual vacuum noises, especially at start up and shut-down are usually the first indication there’s something wrong with the motor. So bend your ear a little and save money. By the way, a little smoke or puff of dust doesn’t mean your vacuum is just letting off steam either. And a little shock or spark when you plug it in doesn’t mean – ready, set, go.

A Vacuum Makes the Coolest Toddler Horse

And your child will love being dragged around the house on the canister vacuum or power bar while you clean. That way you can keep an eye on him/her and everyone’s happy. NOT! Your vacuum isn’t going to like this multifunction aspect one bit. When it was designed, the extra weight on the canister, powerhead or tug on the hose was never factored into the mix. Who cares if the delicate wires break, the motor overheats or the hose membrane splits, bends or tears? You do, if you don’t want to have to replace it. If this was why you chose a canister over an upright vacuum, there are better reasons for selecting a type of vacuum.

Store a Vacuum Any Old Place

A special spot for the vacuum and accessories? Never. Leave it wherever you drop it and allow all those little attachments to be strewn anywhere they like. It’s amazing where they can hide. That just means that the hose can get stepped on, you won’t be able to find the brush you need and if you park it where there’s moisture, you can look forward to a new vacuum in no time. After all, a vacuum without attachments is rather single-function or useless. And, in case you’ve been wondering, a pet vacuum is not meant to be your pet’s chew toy.

Related: Old Vacuum Disposal Guide