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You are halfway through vacuuming your floors when the suction stops. You run the vacuum over the same area but the dirt is not being picked up, or only some of it is being picked up. The vacuum sounds the same, there is still power running through it, but it is not doing the one job that it should be doing. What do you do now?

Lost suction in a vacuum is a common problem but do not rush to take your vacuum in for repair. There are many things which can cause a lack of suction, some are easy to fix, and some are more involved but, the good news is that you can fix most, if not all, of the problems by yourself. With a little time and effort, you can get your vacuum back up in its feet (or wheels) in no time. Let’s take a look.

How Does a Vacuum Lose suction?

It doesn’t matter if your Dyson has lost suction or your Shark Vacuum has lost suction, there are some problems which are common to most vacuum cleaners. Let’s look at some of the most common problems.

The bag / Bin

vacuum lost suction - check the bag

A full vacuum bag is often the cause of loss of suction

This should always be the first place you look if there is a loss in suction. Vacuum cleaners are created to allow a constant flow of air. The air is pulled up the suction head and through the bag (or bagless container). As the air flows through the bag, the dirt is sucked up into it and gets trapped there.

If there is too much dirt and debris in the bag, then the airflow is not going to be optimal. Fixing the suction may be as simple as just changing or emptying the bag.

Another common problem is a split or tears in the bag. A vacuum cleaner wants to create a vacuum so that the air flows. If there is a tear, then the air is being pulled in too many directions. If the bag is not full, then check that there is not a tear or rip in the bag.

The filter

Vacuum Lost Suction - check the filter

Ensuring air flow through the filter is crucial in maintaining a vacuum's suction

Talking about vacuums and suction, if the airflow is blocked, you are not going to create that vacuum. Another common cause is the filter. If you have checked the bag and there are no problems there, then it may be the filter which is restricting air flow.

Most modern vacuums have at least one filter. There will likely be a filter before the motor to prevent dust and dirt from getting in there. There could also be a filter on the way out of the bag to allow air through but trap the dirt. If a filter becomes too dirty, then it is not going to allow the air to flow freely.

This is another problem which is easy to fix. First, locate your filters and do a visual inspection of them. Even if they do not look too dirty, it is still worthwhile to remove them and give them a clean. Removing them will also allow you to do a visual inspection and check if they are damaged. A damaged filter will lower the suction and need to be replaced.

Once the filters are back in place, try the vacuum again to see if the problem is fixed.

Blockages

Vacuum lost suction

Small blockages in your vacuum can cause a loss of suction

There are many places in a vacuum cleaner which can become blocked. If the air flow is blocked, then suction is going to decrease. We already talked about the bag and filters, so it is now time to look at the pipes and tubes which go to and from those places. The obvious place to start is with the suction head. This is the part which initially sucks up the dirt and debris.

Turn the vacuum over if it is an upright or flip over the suction head if it is a canister vacuum. Perform a visual inspection. Is there anything blocking this part of the vacuum? If there is, you may be able to unblock it easily and fix your problem.

If there is not a blockage in the suction head, it may be in the tubes leading from there to the vacuum bag. Disconnect any of the tubes that you can and take a look through them if possible. If you straighten the tubes, you should be able to see all of the ways through. If you cannot see through, then you know where your blockage is.

To unblock a tube, use a thin rod to gently push the blockage through. An unfolded coat hanger also works. Ensure that all pipes and tubes are unblocked and put the vacuum back together.

Rotating brush

vacuum lost suction - check the brush roll

Even the suction on a high powered Dyson will reduce if your brush roll has a problem

When you were doing your visual inspection of the vacuum cleaner suction head, you may have noticed that there was a lot of hair and string around the brush roll. If this brush roll does not spin, it is going to lower the suction. You should be able to pull most of this tangle from the brush roll or cut it away with some scissors.

There is also a belt here which can come off and stop the brush roll from spinning. If this is the case, then you may need to put the belt back on or replace it altogether. If there are no blockages, then check that this brush roll is spinning when the vacuum has power.

The motor

If you have checked everything and there has not yet been a fix, then it may be that your motor is old and worn down. If you are still under warranty, then you will be able to have it fixed free of charge. If you have an older vacuum, then it may cost you a lot of money to get it fixed (unless you can fix the vacuum cleaner yourself).

When this is the case, it may be better to replace your vacuum with a new one.

These are the most common cause of loss of suction. Most, if not all can be fixed in a few minutes.