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Five flubs that can shorten the life of your vacuum

Posted by Consumer Reports on May 1, 2013
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Spring cleaning is rarely fun and doing it with an uncooperative vacuum is even worse. But don't assume you need a new vacuum before thoroughly checking out yours. Sometimes what seems like a big problem is something small you can fix yourself. And you may have caused it by making one of these five common vacuuming blunders.

1.Tossing it when it loses suction. Full bags aren't the only reason a vacuum's suction can suffer. If the hose is clear, check the filter.  It may need cleaning or replacement.  If the brush roll barely turns, check it and the drive belt for tangled string or hair. The drive belt itself might need replacing, too.

2.Sucking up water or wet messes. Had a flood? Avoid the risk of electrocution and leave your upright or canister in the closet. Use a wet-dry vac and be sure to plug it into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet-if you have standing water or even damp debris.

3.Assuming the motor has blown. Many models have a thermal switch that cuts current to the motor if it begins to overheat. If your vacuum shuts off during use, check for a full or clogged bag or bin or a dirty filter. The switch should reset itself, though some models have a reset button for that purpose.

4.Vacuuming hard, sharp objects. Nails, screws, coins, and even paper clips can rip bags and filters and damage the machine itself. Sweep them up with a broom before vacuuming.

5.Using the brush on bare floors. A powered brush is critical for deep-cleaning carpets. But the revolving bristles can scatter debris on bare floors. Worse, they can scratch the finish on hardwood and the plastic wear layer on laminate floors. Most vacuums now let you switch off the brush when it's not needed.

Don't buy a new vacuum without first checking out these Consumer Reports ratings for vacuums. 

For additional consumer advice and lab-tested ratings on thousands of brand-name products, use your Union Plus discount and subscribe to Consumer Reports online for just $22/yr. (reg. $30).

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