Monday, December 13, 2010

How to take Care of your Vacuum Cleaner: Get your Vac Cleaning the Way it Should

Get your vacuum cleaner cleaning the way it should!   

One of the most important, yet overlooked, functions of a vacuum cleaner is agitation. Imagine your washing machine without agitation. You put your clothes in it and turn it on. The machine fills with water and then sits there for ten minutes. Next the water pumps out of the machine. The cycle repeats without the tub ever moving. How clean would your clothes be? The concept of your washing machine tub agitating your clothes is the same as agitation on a vacuum. You need agitation on your carpet to pick up dirt. Here are simple ways to make sure you are getting the agitation on your carpet that you need to clean it effectively.  

Very few users pay attention to belts or even know what they do. Here is why the belt is so important:
Back in the days of selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door-to-door, I remember one particular part of my demonstration. I would take a small amount of salt (1 tbs.) and put in on the customer's carpet. I'd then take the customers old vacuum and, without turning it on, pass it over the spot a few times. The rubbing action of the vacuum cleaner on the carpet would push the salt down below the pile of the carpet and you couldn't see it anymore. I'd then ask the customer, "Why don't you save electricity and just push your vacuum around without plugging it in?" Try it yourself -- you'll see.

That's the same concept of vacuuming your carpet without a good belt on your vacuum. You go through all the motions but there is no or little agitation involved. The belt is either not spinning the brush roll at all or it's going so slow that it is just playing with your carpet. Most vacuum belts are made of rubber, and they stretch. Once stretched out, the brush roll moves slow or not at all. And if it does move when you put your vacuum on it's back, chances are good it stops the second you put it down on your carpet. If there's no agitation on your carpet, you're just cleaning the top of it.

How often should I change the belt on my vacuum cleaner?

Every six months at the very least! The average household uses their vacuum once a week for one half hour. If you use your vacuum daily, you should change the belt every month. Here's a rule of thumb: change you vacuum belt every time you open a new package of vacuum bags. For just a couple bucks you will be cleaning your carpet a lot better.

How do I know if the belt needs to be changed?

One sign your vacuum requires a belt change is it not picking up as well as it used to. Don't misread that statement. The belt is not the only reason your vacuum might not clean correctly, but it is the best place to start.
I could not tell you how many times I've heard, "I looked at my belt and it is fine". I get vacuum cleaners brand new from the factories that already require the belt to be changed! If a vacuum cleaner sits unused for six months, you need to change the belt. Think of a rubber band. You can tug and stretch it many times over and over again and it never loses its elasticity. If you put that rubber band on a basketball for two weeks you will find it is permanently stretched out.
Once vacuum cleaner belts are installed they get stretched tight. Just like the rubber band. If you examine the belt closely after it has been on the machine a few weeks or months you will notice that it has tiny cracks in it, showing the integrity of the rubber has been compromised.
Another indicator the belt needs to be replaced is if the vacuum pushes hard.

I changed my belt but it just burned off as soon as I turned on my vacuum cleaner. What now? 

Either your brush roll is bad or the belt was not installed correctly. Disconnect the power cord. After you change your belt, lay your vacuum on its face with the handle laying flat. Turn the brush roll from front to back manually. There should be resistance, but you should still be able to turn it. If you can't turn it at all, the belt was pinched during installation or the brush roll is defective.
Note: Some vacuums with geared or cogged belts can't be turned manually.

Does my vacuum have a belt that requires to be changed?

Not all vacuum cleaners on the market have belts. Hoover V2, Kenmore and Panasonic belt-less machines don't have belts. They use a direct drive system with gears. This doesn't make them superior vacuum cleaners - if you catch the edge of a throw rug or a piece of clothing in the brush roll, something has to give. The results are usually gears stripping or motors burning out. These machines usually have a reset button on the machine that protects the motor should you get an object caught in the brush roll.
Other vacuum cleaners have geared or cogged belts. These belts have notches on them and rarely need to be replaced. If your machine has this type of belt it usually has a reset button on the machine that protects the motor should you get an object caught in the brush roll. It has been my observation the belt will break on these machines before the reset button kicks off.

Why does my vacuum go through so many belts?

If your brush roll is in perfect working order, you could be setting the height adjuster too low on the carpet, working the belt too hard and causing it to slip, even when it's new.
Another reason may be you are using cheap after-market belts. Companies that produce after-market products don't go through rigorous testing like the original manufacturer. Even something as simple as a rubber belt has been designed to perform correctly on that particular machine. At my store I refuse to carry after-market belts. Even if the original and after-market belts look the same there is a great difference in quality and performance. So spend the extra 50 cents, your carpet and your vacuum will thank you for it!

Brush roll

The brush roll sometimes known as the beater bar, motor driven brush, or agitator, is what agitates your carpet, loosening dirt, so your vacuum can remove it from the carpet. A fast-spinning brush roll is needed to make your vacuum perform efficiently on your carpet. If it does not spin, your vacuum won't clean properly.
As vacuum cleaner technology advances, some vacuum cleaners have switches that turn the brush roll on or off. This switch is usually labeled on the vacuum cleaner as the rug / floor or carpet / hard surface switch. Vacuum cleaners without a brush roll switch have the brush roll spinning any time the vacuum is running - including when you use the hose attachments. A vacuum cleaner that does not have a brushroll will not efficiently clean your carpet: period.

How do I know if my brush roll needs to be replaced? 

The brushes are worn down. Vacuum cleaners have bristles on the brush roll that are at least 1/4" long. Most are 3/8" long. If the bristles are shorter then 1/4" you are ready for replacement.
It does not spin, even with a new belt.
Brush rolls have bearings on the ends of them that allow the brush roll to spin freely while the ends are stationary to the housing of the machine. If these bearings are full of hair, threads or dirt, they won't allow the brush to spin. This creates heat, causing the belt to wear prematurely.
To check this on most vacuums you can leave the belt off the machine and keep the brush roll installed. If the brush roll is hard to turn or does not spin at all, it needs to be replaced. Remember, this is only if there is NO belt installed on your vacuum.
When you put a new belt on the machine, it is noisy, and there is vibration in the handle. This is usually the effect of a bearing that has already gone beyond the "turning hard" stage. If the bearing is completely disintegrated and the brush roll is just flopping around it's time for a new brush roll.

Why does my vacuum cleaner push so hard?

1.  Maybe your carpet is really thick. I have witnessed carpets in houses so thick that, unless you own a self-propelled/power-drive vacuum cleaner, your vacuum is hard to push. Lightweight vacuums push easier, but don't clean as well as their heavier counterparts. Unless you have a physical ailment that prevents you from using heavier vacuums, don't give up performance for convenience.
2.  The bag is full. A dirty bag adds 5 to 10 extra pounds to your vacuum. I can't tell you how many people come in my store with the bag just packed full and complaining about how heavy their vacuum is!
3.  You need a new belt. On properly operating machines, the suction of the machine sucks the nozzle tight against the carpet. The brush roll works in opposite of that suction by breaking the seal between the carpet and your rug plate, making the vacuum clean better by allowing airflow and making your machine easier to push.
4.  Your vacuum is out of adjustment. Setting your vacuum to the correct height adjustment is all it takes to make it push easy and still clean well. With a new bag and new belt on the vacuum you should set your height adjustment so that the vacuum literally picks up the carpet off the floor against your vacuum nozzle. Not all machines are capable of picking up the carpet. If your vacuum is incapable of achieving this, consider replacing it for a higher quality machine.
You need a new brush roll. On most vacuums the vacuum of the machine sucks the nozzle tight against the carpet. The brush roll works in opposite of that suction by breaking the seal between the carpet and your rug plate. This makes the vacuum easier to push. If the brushes on the brush roll are severely worn this action will diminish, making your vacuum hard to push.
5.  You are using the vacuum incorrectly. This happens more often then one can imagine. Try setting the height adjuster correctly. Put a new bag in the vacuum. Put a new belt on it. Set the height adjustment on the highest setting. Turn on the vacuum cleaner and put the handle down. Does it push easy? Yes! Does it pick up the dirt? No! Now reverse the settings. Put the height adjustment all the way down. Turn on the vacuum cleaner and put the handle down. Does it push easy? No! Does it pick up dirt? Yes! Somewhere between those two settings is a happy medium. The lower to the carpet you set your vacuum cleaner does not necessarily make your vacuum perform better.
6.  Your carpet needs shampooing. Many households in attempt to keep their carpets clean employ a "no shoes" policy. This actually makes your carpet dirtier and your vacuum cleaner hard to push!
The carpet absorbs oils from your feet while you walk across it. These oils mixed with household dust make a sticky film on your carpet, giving your carpet a dingy look, and making your vacuum push hard. Vacuuming your carpet will not fix this - shampoo your carpets and your problem is solved!

Lets Talk Filters
It makes me shiver just to think of where the vacuum cleaner industry has been taking you poor consumers. They have been pushing Bag less vacuum cleaners on you for years.

I guess you can tell by my first paragraph that I am not a bag less vacuum promoter. I remember when they first came out, customers asking me if the reason I didn't like them was because I wouldn't sell bags? Well the answer is no. I sell more filters and make much more money selling filters than I ever did selling bags. The truth be told; in my opinion, the best bag-less vacuums don't work as well as most bag type vacuums.

We would love to hear your comments.  We would also love to know if there are other cleaning topics you'd like us to cover.  Please email or call us at 877-SHACK-OK with any questions. 

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Soda Stream and Martha Stewart

I am not afraid or ashamed to admit that I love Martha Stewart.  I have read her magazines for years.  I think she is a genius.  I record her TV shows and watch them and make the crafts that she shows and try the recipes she cooks.  I love her ideas.  Last night I was watching an episode I had recorded and she was making syrups to be used with soda water.

We recently began to carry Soda Stream Soda Makers in our store.  As with most products we have, I saw fell in love with, tried in my own home before we started to sell the Soda Stream SM's.  We really love ours, had a lot of fun with it Thanksgiving and have had fun in the store offering samples to customers.  Last time we ordered, they were out of cream soda.

Imagine my delight when Martha was making syrup for CREAM  SODA and her guest was using a Soda Stream!  I stopped the TV, looked it up online and made a batch right then.  It was fantastic!  I am so excited now to find & experiment with more recipes for syrup.  Here is a link to that one. Cream Soda Recipe at Martha Stewart 

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Thursday, December 2, 2010


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A Cleaner Place, Electrolux

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A Cleaner Place, Miele Vacuums

Shop online at www.vacshack.comIn the Oklahoma City area shop

Miele Ad at A Cleaner Place

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We Are A Cleaner Place

I think you will be surprised that we have more than vacuum cleaners.  This is the merging of two lives and two very divergent careers:  Stephen Fuhrman and Jeanie Jones.

Steve has been in the business of selling vacuums for 25 years.  When we met he had a retail store in Tracy, CA.  He was not happy being in California.  We started making plans for a future that did not include California. 

I have been a therapist for 25 years.  When I met Steve I had been doing contract and consulting work and training and  found that I was much happier being my own boss.  I had moved to California, but was open to other locations. 

We began to aggressively expand Steve’s online business in preparation for a move.  We decided on Oklahoma:  home for Jeanie, closer to Steve’s family in Minnesota, cheaper rent, centrally located.  We got married and made the move to Oklahoma.  

I have chemical sensitivities and had been using non-chemical methods of cleaning and making my own cleaning supplies for years.  Steve sold cleaning products but had never heard of Natural Cleaning Products.  Steve & I got more involved in selling Miele Vacuum Cleaners:  went to some sales meetings, learned more about the products and company, met Nick Ord, President of Miele USA  and we decided to make a shift in products and focus as we made the move to OK. 
Since moving to Oklahoma, we had been growing weary of poor quality, made in China, disposable vacuum cleaners, (filling landfills and making customers grumpy), chemicals that are unhealthy and big box stores that take our money out of Oklahoma, out of the USA and offer poor quality, little to no customer service in return for cheap prices.

Our  goals:
  • ·         Excellent customer service = Engage with the customer, solve their problems, offer quality products and service
  • ·         Eco-friendly products that are sustainable, non-chemical, healthy for families
  • ·         Made in USA, locally or regionally when possible, made in Europe, made by companies that are responsible

With all of this in mind, we are no longer a Vacuum Cleaner Store.  We are A Cleaner Place, where you can buy vacuum cleaners, floor care machines, personal care products, kitchen products, household products all with the above goals in mind. 

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Anniversary Celebration

Hey Oklahoma City! We have now been in Oklahoma City for four years and at our present location for one it's time to celebrate.  Come on by for some fun, food, drinks, prizes, discounts, samples, product demonstrations.  Did I mention a Grand Prize that anyone, who comes by, will be eligible to win??  See below for product sponsors.
Anniversary Celebration 
Fri, 11-5-10, 3-6 pm; Sat, 11-6-10, 10 am–2 pm

12409 N Rockwell Ave

  • Green Cleaning Supplies
  • Made in USA products
  • Natural Personal Care Products
  • Vacuum Sales, Service & Supplies
  • Beverages
  • Snacks
  • Product  Demonstrations
  • Special Discounts
  • Awesome Prizes
  • Drawing Every Hour

Host Dry Carpet Cleaning
Dirt Devil

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Electrolux unveils five Vacs from the Sea

Electrolux unveils five Vacs from the Sea

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How to Stay Positive While Running a Retail Business

As we approach the second anniversary in our new location and four years of being in a new state, it was a good time to look at what we’ve accomplished.  Mind you, I did not just come up with the idea of doing this; quite the opposite. 
I am a therapist by profession.  I have spent many years working in direct client contact, managing programs, managing people and training others on how to deal with problem employees, how to assess clients, how to deal with crises, how to prevent suicide, and many more topics.  I delved into the retail world about five years ago when I met my husband and he had a retail store in Tracy, CA. 
Things evolved and we decided to add e-commerce to his business in preparation of moving the business to my home state of Oklahoma, which we did, about four years ago.  I had never run a business before.  He had the knowledge of our products:  Vacuum Cleaners, Floor Cleaning Machines and Cleaning Supplies (although we took a turn toward Natural & Sustainable after I came on board), so we decided my contribution would be managing the business side of it.  OK, less decided and more just evolved. 
All this is to say I was immersed in a world I was really not prepared for.  Running a retail business is hard.  Expanding into e-commerce is harder.  Moving to a new state and having the economy take a big downward spiral just a few months after we opened in OK was nearly more than we could tolerate.  I could go through many scenarios of things that went wrong, including once when our website quit working for several weeks, but the specifics are not as important and it is to say, many things can happen when you are running a business and many of those things happened to us. 
At this point in our business we were struggling to have enthusiasm, even though we were planning to have an anniversary celebration at our store.  Then, I came across Liz Strauss’s
Wow!  Did I need to hear that!  I immediately sent a copy of the blog post with a note, to the other staff members at our company and said, “Wednesday will review.  What has, Inc. accomplished in the last 24 months?”

It was a very productive meeting and all staff members were able to list some accomplishments, including:

o    Moved to a better location
o    Added Kitchen Product Lines
o    Added two new Vacuum Cleaner Product Lines
o    Up-graded our Point of Sale Software
o    Started a second website, highlighting our local store
o    Up-graded our e-commerce website-to-shipping software
o    Began a television ad campaign

After we went through the exercise of looking where we had been, we decided to bring back a technique we had used when we first opened in OK.  We keep a whiteboard “Wish List” for the company.  This includes short-term and long-term goals for equipment, benefits, directions that we would like to see for the company.  We would periodically review it; see what we accomplished, what we want to keep and what we want to add.  It helps to have a visual aid, to let employees know their voices are being heard and for them to think they have a part in deciding in which direction the business is going.

Having a retail business is a struggle every day, especially for the small business owner.  We feel fortunate every month that we are able to pay our bills and keep our doors open.  It is hard to remember that and hard to remember to see what we have accomplished and celebrate our success.  I believe people are put in my life for a reason and I believe being pointed to Liz Strauss’s blog was no accident, but something I needed to read and put into practice.  Thank you Liz and thank you Twitter!

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

How we Keep our Small Business Going

While I think that Vacuum Cleaners & Filtration are a noble cause and certainly important to me with the allergy issues I have, it is not the most exciting of topics.  I decided it was time for a new blog so that's not the first one that everybody sees.  What's on my mind is what's on my mind on most days:  how is our business doing?

There are many things to consider when answering that question.  First and foremost we have to pay the bills.  As with anything, even in the non-profit world I used to work in full-time and still do contract work in, you still have to pay the bills.  That one is taken care of; at least for this month.  I don't think we are different than most small businesses, we struggle, some months more than others, to pay our bills.  However, in an era where the economy is still slow, many businesses have closed and lots of people are out of work, we consider it a HUGE accomplishment that we can pay our bills every month.

The second, and probably the most important thing to consider, is "Are we Happy?"  We are a family-owned business.  The people who work for us are family, so it is more than just keeping employees happy, it is people I love and care about, even if they did not work for me.  When I met my husband I had taken a leave from my career as a therapist.  I told him it was my goal to work less and enjoy life more.  I haven't exactly accomplished the first one, but at least the work is different. We do have fun working together and I think most days we are happy doing what we are doing.

The next item to consider is contentment.  I love to shop and I love to make a difference.  Scouring for new products to have in our store and trying to figure out if they will do well is something that is fun for me.  When someone comes into our store and says, "That is so cool," well, I think I have made a difference.  But, when someone comes in with severe allergies or someone who is all about saving the earth and we have a product that make their life easier, then we have made a big difference.

But what about the customer?  We try hard to offer the best in Customer Service.  We are constantly looking at ways to improve.  I offer resources to our small staff and we have regular meetings where we talk about this.  The struggle is between keeping true to our mission, our goals, offering excellent customer service and making a living.  Sometimes it's hard to do all three.  Different customers want different things.  We cannot be all things to all people.  We do occasionally have to turn customers away.  We do offer suggestions, referrals, alternatives if we can.  I promise we'll keep trying.  I hope you'll remember we are doing our best.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Vacuum Cleaner Filtration

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Filtration is a mechanical or physical operation which is used for the separation of solids from gases (Air) by interposing a medium (Filter) through which only the air can pass. Oversize solid particles in the air are retained in the filter media, (depending on the pore size and filter thickness).
Filtration DiagramDiagram of simple filtration: oversize particles in the FEED (Dirty Air) cannot pass through the lattice structure of the filter, while air and small particles pass through, becoming FILTRATE.
If you can imagine in time, the more oversized particles that get stuck in the filter the harder it is for air to pass through and even the smaller particles will get caught up in the filter giving you less volume of FILTRATE but cleaner air with less particles. 
Note:  If it requires 10 lbs of pressure per square inch to keep the FEED flowing through the filter when it is clean, it will take more pressure to maintain that same flow amount after the filter has begun collecting the large particles and clogging up the pores of the filter.  How much more pressure will depend on the amount of oversize particles retained by the filter.
Looking back to the diagram, if the darker yellow area around the outside of the filter does not make a good seal with the filter and air is allowed to bypass around the filter, the filtration efficiency is compromised and the quality of FILTRATE is lowered sometimes the same as the FEED.  This effect takes place more as the filter becomes clogged with particles creating greater resistance.
HEPA FilterThis filter to be labeled in the USA as a HEPA filter, must meet HEPA Filtration Standards of filtration.  This standard is 99.97% efficient to .3 microns.  This in simple terms means it must remove 99.97% of all particles the size of .3 microns or smaller.
Today, a HEPA filter rating is applicable to any highly efficient air filter that can attain the same filter efficiency performance standards as a minimum and is equivalent to the more recent NIOSH N100 rating for respirator filters. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has specific requirements for HEPA filters in DOE regulated applications. Products that claim to be "HEPA-type", "HEPA-like", or "99% HEPA" do not satisfy these requirements and may not have been tested in independent laboratories.

    Applied to Vacuum Cleaners

Bagged Vacuums

A bagged vacuum cleaner whether an upright or canister, is a vacuum cleaner that the primary filtration is a paper, cloth or synthetic bag located either on the inside or outside of the vacuum cleaner.  This bag acts as the first level of filtration catching large particles and allowing the cleaner air with only smaller particles to pass through the pores of the bag.
In the past ten years most vacuum manufacturers improved their filtration and added an additional (secondary or final) filter to the bagged type vacuum cleaners.  This filter is many times called a HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arrest) filter.
For a HEPA filter in a vacuum cleaner to be effective, the vacuum cleaner must be designed so that all the air drawn into the machine is expelled through the filter, with none of the air or particles leaking past or around it. This is often referred to as "Sealed HEPA" or sometimes the vaguer "True HEPA".  Vacuum cleaners simply labeled HEPA have a HEPA filter, but not all air necessarily passes through it. Finally, vacuum cleaner filters marketed as "HEPA-like" will typically use a filter of a similar construction to HEPA, but without the filtering efficiency causing poor airflow or less than desirable filtration.  Because of the extra density of a HEPA filter, HEPA vacuum cleaners require motors with higher airflow and suction combined to provide adequate cleaning power.

Bagless Vacuums

Bagless type vacuum cleaners whether they are canisters or upright vacuum cleaners, usually have a HEPA or HEPA type filter attached to their exhaust also.  Unlike the bagged type vacuums, bagless machines do not always have a primary filter as their first defense of capturing the large particles in the air that is being sucked into the vacuum.  Some are designed with pre-filters made of washable foam and most also use centrifugal force to attempt to separate the particles from the air and then finally force the air through a HEPA or HEPA type filter to expel only cleaned air.
Cyclonic Assembly DiagramSince most readers are familiar with the Dyson brand of vacuum cleaners we will use one of their cyclonic units as an example of how bagless vacuums work.  Keep in mind all bagless vacuum cleaners do work similarly the same.  Dyson uses the term cyclone technology, but it is still simply centrifugal force that separates the large particles of debris from the air.
This type of filtration is the equivalent to a low quality filter or vacuum dust bag.  Many (Not All) manufacturers also include a motor filter after the cyclonic assembly to catch somewhat finer particles prior to the air passing through the motor.  Once the air has been cleaned of the large particles it still needs to pass through a HEPA filter to finish cleaning the air before it is expelled from the vacuum.  All of these filters and even the centrifugal forces use energy and restrict airflow lowering your vacuum cleaner's efficiency.
Note about all information above:  Vacuum cleaners in and of themselves, do not loose suction, That is a myth.  Dirt clogging passageways and dirty filters are the cause of loss of suction.  The suction from the motor is relatively the same in a new motor or a 10 year old one.  Electric motors do not get “Tired” like gas powered engines.

What does all this mean to you?

When choosing a vacuum cleaner, filtration type and quality is an important part of the process.  We find that allergy sufferers tend to pay closer attention to the filtration quality of the vacuum and less attention to the overall design and efficiency of the unit.  If design and efficiency is over looked allergy sufferers might find themselves purchasing a vacuum that has a great filter but does not have the sealed aspect of the HEPA filter or a machine that does not have enough power to push the air through the filter thus lowering the overall cleaning effectiveness.  
In addition, many people purchase a less expensive vacuum based on what the outer box claims being tricked by the simple term “HEPA” rather than doing research to be sure that vacuum is properly designed by a creditable company with the correct balance of filtration efficiency, cleaning effectiveness and ease of use.
Since the introduction of HEPA filters to the vacuum cleaner industry, most manufacturers have been forced to boost the power consumption of the motor in the vacuums to the maximum allowed by UL (United Laboratories) for household appliances just to accommodate the back pressure or resistance caused by HEPA filters.  This has caused a great increase of energy consumption in mainstream box store vacuum cleaners and in doing so has caused more noise, shorter average life spans, and more heat generated by these electricity-hogging vacuums.


Vacuum cleaners are a major appliance in your home.  They offer great results when they are designed and manufactured correctly.  They do require the same amount of thought to purchase as does any other major appliance in your home.  Don’t sell them short and please do your homework, finally; by all means ask questions when making a purchase.

Health Risks

Boy with inhalerThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has linked fine particle exposure to adverse health effects, including premature death, aggravated asthma and chronic bronchitis.1 While individual particles are invisible to the naked eye, collectively they can appear as smog or dust clouds.

Particles measuring 0.3-0.5 microns in size have a greater likelihood of being deeply inhaled into your lungs, where they can be absorbed into the bloodstream or remain embedded in your lung tissue for extended periods of time.

Those at the greatest risk are the elderly and children, along with those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular disease. Even the healthy, may experience dangerous symptoms from elevated exposure to particle pollution including:

  • - Irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing
  • - Decreased lung function
  • - Irregular heartbeat
  • - Heart attacks
1Health and Environmental Effects of Particulate Matter
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Hidden Offenders

Woman with AllergiesTo combat the severity of this health epidemic and the gravity of its impact, the federal government has passed the Clean Air Act requiring the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for the six air pollutants deemed most harmful to public health and the environment.2 Particulate matter (PM) constitutes one of these six most dangerous pollutants.

Fine particles originate from a variety of sources. Outdoors, they're generated by the 'usual suspects'... diesel trucks, fuel combustion and power plants.

What might be surprising to learn is that fine particles are polluting your indoor air quality as well - contaminating the very air your family breathes in the confines of your seemingly safeguarded home. These invisible culprits have many sources including wood stoves, air fresheners and most vacuum cleaners.

As a result of normal motor wear and tear, vacuum cleaners can actually pollute the air you breathe - exhausting millions of fine particles per minute. And, unfortunately, legislation has yet to be put in place to regulate these indoor polluters.

2 Particulate Matter, American Lung Association.

Carbon Emissions

Carbon emmisions ChartInterbasic Resources (IBR), an accredited third party laboratory undertaking the testing of particulate contamination and filtration performance verification, was commissioned by Miele to conduct an efficiency test of five leading vacuum cleaner brands to assess their respective emissions' rates.

One test was conducted to determine the volume of carbon dust particles emitted from each vacuum cleaner's fan. The ensuing test results were alarming with the poorest performing unit discharging over 13 million particles (0.3-0.5 micron in size) per minute. These sized emissions constitute the very particulate matter that the EPA warns, and regulates, against.

Miele captured motor emissions most effectively, emitting 638 times fewer carbon dust particles than the average vacuum cleaner tested.

Filtration Efficiency

Filtration ChartIBR tests were conducted to measure complete emissions efficiency – evaluating each unit's overall capture and retention rate. At Miele, we believe it is essential that dirt, dust, allergens, pet dander and other lung damaging particles are not only confined while vacuuming, but retained. The test findings reveal that Miele captures significantly more fine particles, with the nearest brand releasing 21 times more particles per minute.

On average, a homeowner will vacuum three times a week for approximately twenty minutes per session. Resulting IBR data showed that the leading bagless vacuum cleaner has an emission rate of 175,928 fine particles (0.3-0.5 micron in size) per minute. Therefore, vacuuming with this model for one 'session' will emit over 3.5 million particles, leaving one to conclude that one week's worth of vacuuming will subject you to over 10.6 million particles.

Note: Requires free Adobe PDF Reader

Safeguarded Air

 Happy familySafeguard the air you breathe
You take every measure to provide superior care for your home and most importantly for your family – selecting pesticide-free produce, locating eco-friendly cleaners and using toxic-free detergents. But the very task you perform to clean your home, vacuuming, may not only be ineffective, but a cause of indoor air pollution.

Not all vacuum cleaners are created equal. In fact, IBR tests have proven Miele to be 99.99+% effective in both capturing and retaining particles 0.3 micron in size (that is 1/200th the width of a human hair) and larger.

Original Sealed System

Improperly sealed vacuum cleaners allow air, and particular matter, to escape from non-filtered openings. Miele vacuum cleaners offer a true Sealed System, each individual compartment and the system as a whole are sealed with one continuous, durable rubber gasket.Air-Clean SystemOriginal
Miele's exclusive Sealed System design combines with the following three elements to ensure your indoor air quality:
  • Use of the very best raw materials available.
  • Unique, electrostatically charged filtering dustbag and an innovative spring-loaded collar that traps debris
  • A selection of high-quality filter cartridges, including a certified HEPA filter.

Buyer Beware


Consumer AlertImitation turns from flattering to dangerous when imposter vacuum parts are put to use. Miele's Sealed SystemTM design is the most effective and hygienic method of removing particulate matter from your home... but only when genuine Miele dustbags and filters are used.

Tests conducted by IBR show that a counterfeit dustbag and filter does not effectively capture particles - increasing your exposure to harmful substances.

Not only will counterfeit parts increase your exposure to fine particles; IBR test results show that they reduce your vacuum's air flow. Undermining cleaning performance by more than 12%.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Customer Service

Customer Service:  what is it?  Do you have it?

I will be the first to admit we don't do it perfectly.  Any one of us at will admit there have been times that we have been short with a customer, less than helpful or plain un-helpful.   It is not something  we are proud of, but know that we are human.  It is something we constantly talk about, look for resources about and ask the others to keep us in check about.

I was beyond shocked, however, when a customer told my husband (and business partner) that one of our competitors yelled and cursed (using the two foulest words, in my opinion, that you could use with anyone) at him.   I do not consider myself a prude.  I am not easily offended by foul language.  I have even been known to use foul language.  But not AT someone and never at a customer.  Even when I did ask someone who was in our store to leave (he was not a customer; he was actually a contractor who was behaving inappropriately in front of a customer and her child) and was hot under the collar and probably red-faced, I managed to keep my composure, not raise my voice and repeat that he needed to leave.

Again, I will admit, it is sometimes hard to smile and be nice when you are being yelled at or cursed by a customer.  But take the high road.  Stand your ground, ask politely, then insist, if they get out of control, but I can't imagine what could be going on that I would ever yell or curse. 

By the way, my husband told me this story after I commented that I guessed customer service today consists of an employee pointing and saying "they're over there," when you ask for assistance.  I have walked out of more than one store recently because I asked for assistance and was pointed across the room and no further help was forthcoming.

Again, I go over with this our little sales group.  How do we treat customers?  Do we greet them as they come in the door?  Do we offer assistance?  Do we allow them space if they want to browse?  Do we offer to carry the vacuum out to their car?  Even if it was a vacuum they brought in but decided not to get repaired?  Do we thank them for coming in?  Do we ask if we've done all we can do for them?  I hope so.  I also hope if we don't, you will let us know. 

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