Vacuum Suction: What to do when your vacuum won’t suck or has lost suction?

July 10th, 2015

Appliance Hack Appliance Talk Small Appliances Vacuums & Floor Care

Why do vacuum cleaners lose suction? There are quite a few possible reasons.


If your vacuum doesn’t run as well as it used to, before you invest in a new model, go through this handy checklist:

Check the vacuum cleaner bag:

Vacuum cleaner bags collect all the dust and dirt collecting for bagged vacuum cleaners. These bags are designed so that air flows out of them but the dust and allergens are trapped inside.

RMiele Young Style Vacuum Cleaner S4213 09745360

The main issue with using bagged vacuums is that you need to keep replacing the bags when they fill up with dirt and dust. While it may sound more economical to just empty the dust out of a vacuum cleaner bag and re-use it, this can lead to a loss of vacuum suction (plus, it’s pretty messy work).

Over time and extended use, a very fine layer of particles will start to line the inside of a vacuum bag, remaining in place even after the bag is emptied. This means that the bag will lose the proper airflow required to let the incoming air escape. As the airflow is restricted, the suction dies down too. So check, change, and replace the vacuum cleaner bag often.

Check for a plugged hose:

Plugged vacuum hoses are sometimes the reason for a loss in suction. Hoses can get clogged with hair, dust bunnies, string, or anything else that can’t pass through the other end of the hose.

Samsung Vacuum Cleaner SC21F50HDSamsung Vacuum Cleaner SC21F50HD

Airways inside the machine should be looked at as well. Wherever there is an air passage, check it. If it’s clear, move onto the next item.

Check the vacuum cleaner’s filter:

Vacuum filters are much like vacuum cleaner bags, but for made for bagless vacuum cleaners.

Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner DC50MULTIFLOORDyson Upright Vacuum Cleaner DC50MULTIFLOOR

While some bagless vacuums (notably Dysons) use centrifugal force to filter out particles, many bagless vacuum cleaners rely on a filter that acts as a sieve to purify the air coming out of the cleaner. Check the filter and see if it is clogged with dust or needs replacing.

Check for cracked or damaged hoses:

If you’re still losing vacuum suction, check your entire machine for any cracked or broken hoses, as the air escaping through a small crack can make a big difference to the performance of your machine.

Bissell Powerforce Vacuum Cleaner 1292UBissell Powerforce Vacuum Cleaner 1292U

If you do find a cracked hose, check with the retailer or manufacturer to see if you can get the hose replaced inexpensively.

What if the problem with my vacuum cleaner is not with the suction?

There are a few other ways that a vacuum cleaner can break down:

  • One of the most common vacuum cleaner problems is a belt malfunction or a broken belt. It’s usually relatively simple to open up a vacuum to check the condition of its belt, though you may want to check whether this will void the warranty before you start tinkering. If the vacuum belt is indeed broken, remove it and bring it to to the manufacturer or an authorised retailer for a replacement.
  • Another common source of vacuum problems is the agitator brush, which touches the floor and helps pick up the debris. Items like hair or string can get caught and tangled in the brush and prevent the brush head from spinning. Cleaning the brushes often will help avoid this problem.
  • On top of general wear and tear over time, vacuum cleaner motors can also be damaged by moisture. If enough water is sucked into a machine not rated for wet-cleaning, it damages the motor, causing a permanent reduction in suction power. Replacing a motor is often more expensive then buying an all-new vacuum cleaner.

So treat your vacuum well and it will serve you loyally for many years. A little effort into maintaining your cleaner goes a long way.

But if you’ve checked the hoses, the bag, the filter, and even checked inside the machine for broken or impeded parts and your machine still isn’t picking up junior’s spilled cereal, maybe it’s time for a new one.

Please remember that each vacuum is different, and contact your vacuum’s manufacturer before following any of the advice above.

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