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


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

A Cleaner Place, Electrolux

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

A Cleaner Place, Miele Vacuums

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

Miele Ad at A Cleaner Place