Vacuums that Break and Common Repairs
In an average week, Paul’s storefront services fifteen to twenty vacuums. They handle everything from simple maintenance like changing brushrolls to repairing motors and even refurbishing Kirbys.
One of the most common repairs he preforms are on power cords. Power cords tend to take a lot of abuse. Sometimes, the automatic cord rewind will break and consumers will avoid repairing this feature. Instead, they wrap the cord around their arm.
Cords also get pinched, snarled or run over. As a result, the insulation surrounding the cord tends to break down. Over time, this can fray the cord causing a safety hazard.
A way to avoid this is to take a little more caution in the treatment of your power cord and replace parts that break to avoid further damage to other components of your vacuum.
Kenmores are the brand that Paul sees breaking the most often. He said that fifteen years ago, this was not the case.
Kenmore made a vacuum that would last for a good fifteen to twenty years. They have sacrificed the quality of their machines and now produce vacuums with cheap parts that aren’t put together well.
He sees a lot of issues with their cords that can cost between sixty to eighty dollars to repair. Paul feels this is no longer a quality machine.
When it comes to a vacuum that will stand the test of time, Paul feels that it is hard to beat a Miele. Even though Paul is not a Miele dealer, he has a real respect for them.
These quality machines can take a lot of abuse. They are well designed and manufactured. Miele has a testing facility where they put almost every component of the vacuum through one thousand hours of extensive examination before releasing a new model. Paul says that they test the models themselves instead of having the consumer test it for them.
The Vacuum Store Advantage
Today, big box stores offer a variety of vacuums for purchase. What is the advantage of going to a vacuum store instead of a chain store?
Paul can answer that question with one word. Service.
If you go to a big box store to purchase a vacuum you usually make the decision unassisted. If you go into Paul’s store or a vacuum speciality store, they take the time to find out what your cleaning needs are and match you with a machine that will be the right fit for you.
Some of Paul’s customers get tired of listening to him ask so many questions, but he feels that the more information he has the better equipped he will be to help his customers find the right vacuum. Vacuum specialists won’t just hand you a box.
They want to make their customers happy. But Paul’s service doesn’t stop there, if you forget how to operate the machine, give him a call and he will walk you through how to use it.
He will help you change filters and answer your questions. If the machine breaks he will fix it. If the vacuum is still under warranty he won’t charge for repairs. Even if it is out of warranty, he will probably just charge for parts.
In short, you not only purchase a vacuum at a specialty store, but it comes with access to the knowledge of an vacuum expert.
Paul’s store carries parts and vacuums that you won’t find on the mass market like Singer and Tri-star. We were unfamiliar with Tri-star. According to Paul, it is a very good brand.
It is not uncommon to see one that is forty or fifty years old and still running. There was no change in the basic design from 1948 to 1996. Paul could put a new motor in one that was made in 1950. As far as he knows, they only make canisters. The canister is heavy, but has good suction.
There are no bells and whistles and very little electronics. However, it has a good motor, filters, and power nozzle. It is a simple, but decent machine. Tri-stars are in the two-thousand dollar range to purchase. But if you can buy something that will last for twenty to thirty years that is a great investment.
We ran the math on this. Say that you purchased a two-hundred dollar vacuum every two years for the next twenty years. At the end of that time, you will have spent two-thousand dollars and sent ten vacuums to the landfill. We can also assume that in general, a two-hundred dollar vacuum will not work as well as a quality vacuum.
When You're in the Market
Asthma and Allergy Sufferers - Allergies are triggered by dirt and dust mites. If you suffer from allergies, you need a vacuum with strong enough suction that it will get up all the dirt and dust mites resulting with a deep clean of your carpet.
Also, having a vacuum with a good tool, like a turbo power attachment, to clean your mattress and upholstery is important. Getting a machine that offers a HEPA or clothe type bag will also help cleanse the air as you clean and prevent all the dust being sucked up by the vacuum from being released back into the air.
Pet Owners - As much as we love our animals, most pet owners also have to deal with pet hair that can sometimes prove problematic to clean. Purchasing a vacuum with a twelve amp motor, bigger if possible, will help create the suction strength needed to suck up pet hair.
Suction gauges used on vacuum cleaners are calibrated in “Inches of Water Lift.” Water lift is a measurement of the strength of the vacuum produced by the suction motor. Ask the dealer what the water lift of the machine is.
Pet owners should try to find a machine with a water lift of at least eighty, ninety or more if possible. Paul says that will give you the suction you need.
Don’t get a vacuum with a turbo power brush for carpets. These brushes have fans that are powered by air instead of electricity. You should also look for a brushroll with stiff bristles. A vacuum with a half decent filtration will help to cut down on the pet smell.
For Everyone - You can’t get away from needing power or good suction regardless of if you have pets or allergies. If you want to keep home clean, you need good agitation and good attachments.
Natural fibers on a dust brush are a great thing to have Paul explains. Plastic bristles wear down more quickly than natural ones. Also, a ten inch crevice tool can help to make many cleaning jobs easier. That is the one area where Miele falls short of Paul’s expectations. Their vacuums have short crevice tools.
If you have mostly carpeted flooring, an upright is the right choice for you. If they have various surface flooring and want to use one vacuum for everything you should use a canister.
Vacuum Recommendations by Price Categories:
We asked Paul to make a recommendation of his favorite vacuums broken down by price category.
$99 and under – Paul said that you will really only find vacuums this inexpensive in big box stores. He generally finds that these vacuums last one to two years.
There are exceptions. If a machine is well cared for you might get four to five years out of the machine, but no brand stands out. All machines at this price are almost equal in quality.
$100-$200 – For this price, Paul recommends that you go to a vacuum store and find a good, reconditioned vacuum. The dealer at the store can help you make a good selection.
A good dealer will ask you a lot of questions, like what your flooring situation is and who will be using it. With the right knowledge, they can help you arrive at a decision on the best vacuum for you and not just point at a random machine.
$201-$300 – Paul feels that Cirrus is a fairly decent brand. Its a starter vacuum and they only make uprights, but they use a lot of metal components like pivot points, brushrolls, and handles. In these machines, there is more metal where it counts.
These machines are not sold at department stores, but it is a surprisingly good good vacuum for the price. The motor is encased and very comparable to a Sharp.
$301-$599 – If you are looking for a machine in this price category, Paul says that a Riccar or Simplicity is the way to go. One of the the good things about these brands is that they are made in the USA.
They are high quality and well made. The manufacturers don’t have an extensive testing facility like Miele, but are still good. Paul especially likes the upright Riccar Vibrant. It is made with metal parts and has great suction.
$600 and up - Paul again recommends the Riccar and Simplicity. He also feels that a Miele is a great choice.
What does someone who sells and repairs vacuums use in their own home? Paul uses two Riccars. He owns the 8955 upright and the 1700 canister. Owning an upright comes in handy on his sun porch, but the canister is more versatile inside the house. Both of his vacuums are about six years old.
Best and Worst
Paul feels that the Miele Gemini is one of the best vacuums. The downside is that he thinks the model might be discontinued. However, Paul says it is one of the most versatile and best built canister he has seen. It has good filtration, which is nice to have, but not critical to a good vacuum unless you have allergies.
Having a bag in your vacuum is best, no question. With the bagless vacuums, you clog the filter as soon as you turn on the machine. If you have pets, you will always have a smell when you vacuum, but with bags it goes away each time you change the filter. Look for a vacuum with bags that are at least two ply with micron filtration.
When deciding what makes a vacuum bad, many factors need to be considered. Will you be able to get replacement parts, bags and filters for the vacuum? Can you find a shop that will service it?
Paul tells us to take Sharks for instance. They are not very good quality, but additionally they are very hard to get parts for. Paul said that you can’t even go to store where you bought them and get supplies. He thinks the machines might be made in China.
We asked Paul what knowledge he would like to share with consumers. He wants to teach them how to buy vacuums.
It’s really worth while to go to someone who is in the business and have them help you find something that will last more than two years. He is really tired of junk! Junky vacuums are usually not worth fixing.
Paul calls these disposable machines and it doesn’t have to be this way. You hear “go green” all the time and he isn’t a green fanatic, but when he sees his dumpster full of vacuums each week, he feels it’s a real shame.
Save up your money and make an investment in something that will not only work well for you but will last a while.
We would like to thank Paul Marquis from VacuumCleanerShop.com for this interview. You can contact Paul at:
Vacuum Cleaner Shop
183 Northern Ave
Augusta ME 04330