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How to Fix a Vacuum Cleaner That’s Losing Suction Power

vacuum with no suction

It doesn’t matter if you have a low-cost budget vacuum cleaner or an expensive Dyson or Shark premium model, eventually, it’s going to lose suction power. But there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of this happening, and if your vacuum cleaner is losing suction, don’t worry, it’s usually easy to resolve.

Here’s a quick snapshot of some possible causes for you to troubleshoot:

  • Hose has a blockage
  • An air vent is blocked
  • Air is leaking somewhere in the system
  • Vacuum suction strength is on lowest setting
  • Vacuum bag or bin has cheached maximum capacity
  • Filters are dirty or clogged

How Vacuum Cleaners Work

The job of your vacuum cleaner is to suck up dirt, lint, and dust from your floors. Particles are drawn into the vacuum and then collected in a bag or in an onboard container that is emptied into a bin. That process is obvious, but let’s dig into the more technical details on how vacuum cleaners create and lose suction.

In order to create a sucking airflow, the machine must create a strong sealed “vacuum”. It does this by creating negative pressure from a motor, which forces air backwards, and thus, suction is formed.

Air has to pass through filters and is then expelled through vents. The suction process can – generally due to dust deposits – block one of the components through which the air flows (hose, bag, filter, etc.). This then has a direct effect on the suction power, but can also reduce the lifespan of the motor. It’s important that you maintain clean filters and fix any blockages if you notice the suction loss.

Note: Never vacuum up very fine powders like sanded plaster or flour with a domestic vacuum cleaner. The fine particles can bypass the filters – or completely block them – and settle on the internal components, which can cause damage, even with Dyson and Shark chambers. For such fine particles, sweep away with a brush and clean excess with a damp cloth, or use a stronger wet and dry type vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum Suction Strength Setting

The first thing to check if you notice a drop in performance, or if your new vacuum cleaner is not performing as well as expected, is to check that the suction setting is correct. You may not even have noticed your vacuum has this feature.

Look for a slider valve that alters airflow. In Shark vacuum cleaners, this valve is located just under the handle, and in Dysons, you can alter this digitally on the control unit.

It can simply be that the slider or setting is set to very low suction strength. This can happen accidentally by knocking the slider out of place when removing the vacuum from storage.

The Bag or Bin is Full

If the bag or onboard bin canister has reached its maximum fill capacity, there can be a sharp drop in suction power.

This problem is more common on bagged vacuums because most bagless vacuums have a clear container, so you’re able to keep an eye on the volume of the container.

If you’re using a vacuum cleaner with a bag, and there is no “full” warning indicator, aim to change the bag every 2 – 3 months, depending on how often you vacuum.

Blocked Filters Cause Suction Loss

It’s the filter’s job to catch small dirt and particles, so it will inevitably reach a point where it gets clogged, resulting in a drop in performance and loss of suction. The number of filters varies between vacuum cleaners models. But there will at the very least be one filter, with some Shark upright vacuums, there’s three or four, so check your manual.

The smallest of particles and hair stick to the filter, clogging up over time. It is not important which filter is clogged – there is always a loss of suction power. With some filters, the problem can be fixed by cleaning them, but others (such as HEPA) may need to be replaced. Your manufacturer maintenance manual will have all these details.

A Blocked Vacuum Hose

If you’ve checked the suction setting, full level, and filters, and all looks good to go, the next thing to check is the vacuum hose. I’ve used a Shark vacuum for a couple of years now and let me tell you, it will suck up a sock with ease, which can get stuck in the hose. It happens that the hose of the vacuum cleaner becomes clogged by accumulations of dust and dirt.

It’s not just foreign objects that can get stuck in the hose, but a layer of dirt can build up over time, especially around the inlet at the hoover head.

The reduced suction caused by clogged filters, wrong suction settings, and overfilled canister can cause dirt to slow down as it’s pulled through the hose, which in turn results in the hose clogging.

To find the blockage and clear it so that your vacuum can run at full capacity again, you’ll need to disconnect the hose and wash it through.

Blocked Air Vent

The air that is sucked into the vacuum has to exit through a vent, and sometimes this vent can get blocked by a buildup of dust. Also, just like the hose, the air vent can be blocked if an object that is too large and accidentally sucked in is blocked. This problem can also occur with a drop in performance, as a result of which dust accumulates in one place and creates a blockage that further increases the loss of suction power.

To fix, examine the external vent with a torch and look for an obstruction. Sometimes the vent has a hatch that you can access to get in and clean the area.

Air Puncture in Vacuum System

The final cause of insufficient suction power of the vacuum cleaner is a loss of secure vacuum because of a leak somewhere in the system. This could be a bad join, a cracked, or a punctured hose.

The vacuum cleaner is a semi-airtight system, and it’s this secure system that creates a vacuum and the suction power. A hole or crack through which the air can escape in the system inevitably leads to a loss of suction power. This is similar to a hole in a straw that makes it impossible to suck up the liquid properly – no matter how hard you try.

The loss of air can come from a hose or handle not connected securely a puncture or split, or defective seals.

So either reattach the hose to the device correctly or replace it, or seal the holes in the hose. Replace worn seals or reinstall them properly in their seat.

To prevent the problem from recurring, it is important to change the bag or empty the container regularly. Also, remember to clean filters frequently and replace them if worn out.