Getting the most out of your vacuum

Whether you spent $200 or $2,000 on your vacuum, you want it to perform well each time you pull it out of the closet. That means knowing how to use all of its features and accessories.

“Taking a few minutes to understand the different parts of your vacuum is going to be important because you don’t want to damage your floor. For example, the beater bar, which is right here in the front of the sweeper, is actually not good for hard surface floors, nor is it good for the more gentle fabric in oriental rugs. In that situation, you want to use one of the other attachments,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks said.

“On hardwood flooring, you definitely want to use the hard floor attachment,” said professional cleaner Matthew Miller. “The beater brush, if you use it a lot over a period of time, can eventually start to wear out the floors and wear out the finish. Almost all rug companies will tell you not use the beater brush on there because rugs are made of thousands of little threads, and the beater brush will loosen these threads and eventually start to pull them up, and all that money you spend on the rug just goes to waste because the rug cannot be fixed at that point.”

You should regularly empty canisters, replace bags and clean or replace filters on your vacuum, but after months or years of regular use, your machine may require some repair work. If you’re losing suction or your beater bar isn’t moving, you might want to have it checked out. Your main goal is to protect the motor from burning out and needing to get a brand new machine.

“An older generation vacuum cleaner can still be a great vacuum cleaner. One member, for example, had a broken vacuum cleaner, took it to the vacuum shop because it was making a smoking smell and found out that it was like a $1.50 repair and a 5–minute job,” added Hicks.

If you are shopping for a new vacuum, there’s the age–old question: bag or bagless?

“The biggest advice that I would have is get a vacuum that takes a bag,” said Kurt Chavez, who specializes in vacuum sales and service. “That’s the single most important thing. It helps protect the motor. Having that first layer of filtration is important. With a bag vacuum, you change the bag every two months or so depending on use obviously, where as with the bagless, you have to empty that cup every time you use it. It actually is more cost effective to use a bag machine.”

Angie adds that – with proper maintenance – a good vacuum should last as long as 10 to 20 years, so don’t assume you need a new one just because