How to Fix Loss of Suction in a Vacuum Cleaner

Loss of Suction in a Vacuum Cleaner

Since being invented in 1901 by a British engineer, Hubert Cecil Booth, vacuum cleaners have become vital in the battle for keeping homes clean. As more of us strive to remove as much dust, dirt and allergens as possible vacuum cleaner manufacturers have been improving their models to offer us a better clean.

Yet, despite the advanced technology vacuum cleaners faults can (and do) still develop faults, with a common fault being a loss of suction.  Such a fault will see your vacuum leave dust, dirt and various allergens such as pet dander, dust mites and pollen in your home – meaning your home isn’t as clean as it may appear.

Thankfully fixing a vacuum cleaner which has lost suction isn’t as difficult as it may sound, and there are generally 5 key reasons why your vacuum cleaner’s suction has been reduced. These are:

  • Blocked / Dirty Filter
  • Blockages in Vacuum Cleaner
  • Bag / Cylinder Too Full
  • Gaps in Air Flow
  • Faulty Motor

Blocked / Dirty Filter:

Most vacuum cleaners have at least one filter, the pre-motor filter. This is designed to stop harmful particles from getting to and damaging the motor in your vacuum cleaner. Due to the job the filters do they can quickly become dirty or worse, blocked – and in such a situation the suction of your appliance will be hindered.

Rectifying a dirty / blocked filter on your vacuum cleaner is relatively straightforward. Once you’ve located where the pre-motor filter simply:

  • Remove it from your vacuum cleaner
  • Shake off any excess dirt
  • Wash the filter in warm water (if a washable filter is used, if not replace)
  • Allow the filter to naturally dry for at least 24 hours before placing it back into the vacuum cleaner.

In addition to having the pre-motor filter, many vacuum cleaners also have a 2nd filter which stops fine dust / pollen particles from leaving the vacuum cleaner and re-circulating into the room.  This filter should also be removed and cleaned by following the process above – although if either are considerably dirty we suggest you purchase a replacement vacuum cleaner filter and fit this to your appliance.

NB: It is important to make sure you do not run your vacuum cleaner without a filter; doing so can result in further faults developing.

Blocked Hose / Brushroll:

When you consider the dirt and debris your vacuum cleaner comes into contact with, it shouldn’t come as a real surprise that blockages can and do occur. The most common area of your vacuum cleaner to suffer from a blockage is the hose – and whilst this will reduce the suction offered, it is also easily rectified.

Simply disconnect the vacuum hose and give it a once over for any blockages, if any are spotted these can usually be dislodged using a broom handle or plastic coat-hanger, although be careful not to use too much force as you don’t want to puncture the hose. We would also recommend whilst the hose is disconnected you give the area where the hose connects with your vacuum a quick check to make sure there aren’t any blockages.

Blockages in your vacuum cleaner are not limited to just the hose though, they can also occur around the brushroll, with hair and other fibres usually being the cause of such blockages. Thankfully, nine times out of ten the blockage around the brushroll can be rectified by cutting off the fibres / hair tangled around the part, without the brushroll having to be disconnected.

Bag / Cylinder Too Full:

At first glance the capacity of your vacuum cleaner bag / cylinder may seem a lot, but it is worth remembering the fuller the bag / cylinder becomes, the less suction offered by your vacuum cleaner – as such, it is important to make sure you’re emptying the vacuum regularly.

As discussed in our post “Are You Changing Your Vacuum Bag Enough” how often you should empty the vacuum will depend on how often the appliance is used. But as a rule of thumb, we recommend you empty both before they become two-thirds full.

Full Vacuum Cleaner Bag

In addition to emptying your vacuum’s bag, it is also important to make sure you change it for a new one regularly. This is because the pores in the bag can become clogged by dust particles, which in turn significantly reduces the air permeability and the performance of your vacuum.

Gaps in Airflow:

If you’ve noticed a distinct lack of suction from your vacuum cleaner when you’re using the hose attachment, there’s a good chance you’ve got a gap in the airflow. Even the smallest hole can reduce the suction power offered.

Unfortunately, over time the hose on your vacuum can suffer from wear and tear which makes such gaps more likely – with pulling the hose too hard when using the vacuum being a common reason for splits and holes occurring. If yours is damaged in either way, you’ll need to get a replacement vacuum hose and fit this to your vacuum instead.

Faulty Motor:

If after checking the four areas above the suction in your vacuum cleaner is still poor, there may be a fault with the motor or carbon brushes. In such a situation you will need to replace the motor / carbon brushes.

Replacing the carbon brushes or motor on your vacuum cleaner can be a considerably time consuming and tricky task, which is why we would only recommend doing so if it is really essential.

NB: If you have an upright vacuum cleaner, before checking the motor / carbon brushes, we would suggest you check the belt has not snapped – and it if has, you’ll need to replace it.

By taking the time to regularly empty your vacuum cleaner bag / cylinder, clean the filters, and remove blockages you can keep your vacuum cleaner working at peak performance for years to come. And should you require any spare parts or accessories to get the most out of your vacuum cleaner, you’ll find them with us.

Vacuum Cleaner Model Number


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