Vacuum Brush Roll Not Working? Solved

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You are vacuuming your floor, getting rid of all the dirt and grime when disaster strikes ... well, as much disaster as can strike when you are vacuuming. One of the most common problems with a vacuum cleaner, especially an upright vacuum cleaner, is the vacuum brush roll not working or spinning.

If the vacuum brush roll does not spin, then you are left with no agitation or sweeping of your floor and carpets.  As a result the vacuum will not pick up dirt and debris up off the floor.

If this does happen, then worry not, for we have some solutions for you. Before you take your vacuum in to be fixed by a professional, why don’t you try cleaning the vacuum brush roll or replacing some parts yourself?

A little DIY vacuum repair can save you a lot of time and money. With our help, you can have your vacuum up and running in no time. Join us as we discuss the most common causes of a broken vacuum brush roll and what to do about it.

What Do I Do When My Vacuum Brush Roll Is Not Working?

You first need to isolate the problem. If the vacuum brush roll is not working, there are two main possible causes. Your vacuum brush roll may be dirty, or it may be broken.

If it is dirty, it is easy to clean and get it up and running again. If your vacuum brush roll is broken, then the part is easy to replace by yourself.

Let’s start by looking at the most common problems and how to fix it.


If your vacuum brush roll gets jammed up, especially with hair, it can get so clogged that it stops spinning and results in a loss of your vacuum's performance. If you clean your vacuum brush roll regularly, you are never going to have this happen to you.

If you need to clean your vacuum cleaner, set aside twenty minutes to complete the task thoroughly.

Find a Suitable Working Area

To begin cleaning, find an area that you do not mind if dirt, dust, and other grime falls onto it, or cover the area with a dirty sheet or newspaper. Lay the vacuum on its back or side so that you have access to the bottom of your vacuum cleaner, where the vacuum brush roll is.

Inspect the Brush Roll & Belt

If you consult with your instruction manual, you will find out how to remove the brush roller.

Vacuum brush roll not working

Most upright vacuums have a cover plate over the brush roll

This might be as easy as popping it out or sliding it out. However to gain access to the brush roll you might need to first remove the access plate located on the bottom of your vacuum. You will usually require a screwdriver for this.

Vacuum brush roll not spinning

Once the cover plate is removed you can get access to remove the brush roll

Check the brush roll and also the belt for damage before you remove them. If the brush will not turn by hand or the belt is broken you will likely need to replace these items. However, a build up of dirt and hair on the brush roll can also stop it from working properly. 

You should also take this time to check that the bristles on the brush roller have not worn too much. The brushes should feel quite stiff when you run your hand over them. The brush stiffness provides the agitation needed to bring up the trapped dirt from deep in your carpets.

If the brush roll is clearly broken or worn and in need of replacement then obviously there is no point cleaning it. It will just need to be thrown away. If this is the case, move straight to the brush roll replacement section below.

Remove Hair and Built Up Dirt

Once you have the brush roller off of your vacuum cleaner, you can start to clean it.

If the brush roller is not working, then you may notice that there is a lot of hair, string, or floss integrated into the bristles and wrapping their way around the roll. You should try and untangle this tangle with your hands, cutting away the hair and string where needed.

Check out the below video as an example of how to do this. The brush roll on the Sebo vacuum in this video has a huge amount of hair and dirt build up but after a few minutes of work it looks as good as new. 

Once you have removed the large debris, you can deal with the smaller stuff. Use a damp sponge or brush to fully clean the roller and bristles.

As you are letting the brush roll dry, you can check the underside of your vacuum to make sure that there is no debris clogging it up and causing a reduction in suction.

Once you have removed all of the debris and the parts are dry, you can reassemble your vacuum cleaner. This should have fixed the problem but if it has not, then move onto the next section.


vacuum brush roll not working

If your vacuum still does not work after cleaning the brush roll, then you may have to fix the problem. You may have noticed a broken part while you were cleaning. If you did, then that is the part which you need to replace or repair.

Before you begin, find a place where you can fix your vacuum cleaner without worrying about dirt falling onto a surface. You should also find a flat surface to work on.

Ensure that your vacuum cleaner is not plugged into a power source.

Remove the vacuum brush roll and make a visual inspection. There are typically two issues you may find with the brush roll itself:

  • Worn brush strips
  • Brush roll bearing wear/ damage

Brush Roll Replacement

Vacuum brush roll not working

A new brush roll and belt will have your vacuum as good as new

If the bristles on the brush strips are visibly worn or damaged then you might be able to just replace the brush strips on the brush roll. Some vacuum cleaner brush rolls have slide out brush strips for easy replacement. Other vacuums like the Dyson have fixed brush strips meaning you will need to replace the brush roll itself.

Try replacing these to see if it fixes your problem. Not many vacuums have beater bars these days, so the brush strips should be all you need to worry about.

In order for the brush roll to spin correctly the bearings at either end of the brush roll need to be intact and functioning. You can check this by turning it with your hand whilst in position.

If the brush roll is hard to rotate or poorly aligned then the bearings or spindles on the end of the brush roll may be damaged or broken. In this event a new brush roll will definitely be required.

vacuum brush roll not spinning

Typical brush roll end bearings/ spindles

vacuum brush roll not spinning

Typical brush roll end bearings/ spindles

Brush Roll Drive Belt Replacement

One of the most common problems, if the brush roller is not spinning, is a detached or broken belt.

Once you remove the brush roll, look for where the belt is. This belt turns to spin the roller. You may be able to see where the belt has come off of where it should be. Take the time to replace the belt where it should go.

Reassemble the vacuum and see if that fixes the problem.

Another common problem is a broken belt. If you know the make and model of your vacuum, then you can easily find a replacement part in a vacuum store or by doing a search online. It is a good idea to buy a few replacements belts at the same time should this happen again.

Remove the brush roll and find where the belt goes. Remove the old and broken belt and replace with the new belt.

Brush Roll Still Not Working?

If this does not fix the problem and you cannot see any physical evidence of a problem, then you may have to take your vacuum to a professional. Fixing the problem by yourself will save you from having to take your vacuum cleaner somewhere else and will likely save you money on repairs, but there may come a time when you cannot figure out the problem by yourself.

Cleaning or repairing a broken brush roll is a relatively simple task, and there are some common problems which arise with vacuums. These problems are usually obvious to see, and the fixes are common.

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