Most vacuum cleaners have warranties of two to five years. But some common goofs can void that coverage, scratch your floors—or even get you zapped. Vacuums are also one product where small problems can look like big ones. Here are the blunders to avoid:
1. Using the brush on bare floors.
A powered brush is critical for deep-cleaning carpets. But the revolving bristles can scatter debris while scratching the finish on hardwood and the plastic wear layer on laminate floors. Most vacuums now let you switch off the brush when you need to.
2. Vacuuming hard, sharp objects.
Nails, screws, coins, and even paper clips can rip bags and damage the machine. Sweep them up with a broom before vacuuming.
3. Sucking up water or wet messes.
Had a flood? Avoid the risk of electrocution by leaving your upright or canister in the closet. Use a wet-dry vac with a ground-fault interrupter for standing water or even damp debris. Usual cost: about $100.
4. Tossing it when it loses suction.
Full bags aren't the only reason a vacuum's suction can suffer. If the hose is clear, check the filters found on bagged and bagless vacs. And if the brush roll barely turns, check it and the drive belt for tangled string or hair.
5. Assuming the motor has blown.
Many models have a thermal switch that cuts current to the motor if it begins to overheat. If your vacuum shuts off during use, check for a full bag or bin or a dirty filter. The switch should reset itself, though some models have a reset button for that purpose.
Copyright © 2006-2011 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.
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