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How to Maintain Your Vacuum Cleaner

If an upright vacuum cleaner doesn’t work, turn it upside down and look at the base to begin your maintenance troubleshooting. Is there anything wrapped around the beater brushes? If so, just pull those items off. The roller will turn both ways, so unwinding extraneous garbage is simple.

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Next, take off the base plate. Also on the bottom, the plate is usually held in place by two flat metal wings that rotate off. Under the plate, you’ll see a rubber belt. Is it loose, off the roller, or broken? It should fit tightly onto the beater brush. If it doesn’t or it won’t stay in position, you have to get a new one. Sometimes, you’ll find them hanging from a display rack at the grocery store, sold in packages of two, or you can get them at hardware and home improvement stores.

Before you head off to buy a new belt, write down the brand and model of your vacuum cleaner and for good measure take the old belt along. Belts come in several different widths and lengths and you want to be sure to get the right one.

Replacing the belt is easy, just follow the directions on the package you just bought. After you put the new belt in place, make sure it’s on correctly:

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  1. Plug the vacuum cleaner into the wall and look at the direction in which the brushes are turning.

    They should be rotating forward. That’s where the vacuum sucks in trash, animal fur, and hair on your rugs and floors. This forward rotation is also why it’s harder to push the vacuum cleaner forward than it is to pull it back.

  2. If the brushes are rotating toward the back, turn off the vacuum cleaner.

  3. Unhook just one end of the belt.

  4. Twist it in the opposite direction.

  5. Hook it back in place.

  6. Turn on the vacuum again to make sure the brushes are rotating forward.

Before you close up the base and check the plug, cord, and switch, look at each end of the beater brush cylinder. Sometimes, the bushings or bearings get worn or too dirty and that stops the cylinder from rotating or causes the belt to burn out. With the belt off, the brush should spin freely by hand. Snap the brush cylinder out of the base of the vacuum cleaner and clean the bushings and/or bearings, which support the ends of the brush. If that doesn’t help, you have to buy a new cylinder. Go to a vacuum appliance store or a dealer that sells your brand of vacuum cleaner. They usually have a supply of replacements on hand. (A dealer selling several brands of vacuum cleaners, including yours, very likely will have replacement parts for all brands. Just be sure you know your brand and model before you head off to the store.)

After the bristles on the beater bar wear down, they won’t be long enough to reach a hardwood floor. When that happens, the whole roller needs to be replaced. You don’t want to waste your energy going through the motions of vacuuming without any results!

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