Do Not Judge a Vacuum by its Suction Power.


Do Not Judge a Vacuum by its Suction Power.

A good vacuum cleaner does not need a massive amount of suction power in order to work well. Think of the cordless rechargeable hand held vacuum that you love so much. As long as you’re using it on a hard surface, it picks up everything you need it to because you do not need a lot of suction to pick up debris off a hard surface. In fact you do not need a lot of suction to pick up small loose debris off a soft surface either.

There are characteristics that make carpet surfaces different than hard surfaces when vacuuming. Soft surfaces such as carpet pile is made up of a lot of twists of threads for each pile thread, and those pile threads have an irregular notched surface. Dirt also has irregular surfaces, generally smoother than the thread surface, but still irregular. As a result the two are ideally matched to hold on to each other.

Agitating the carpet surface with a moderate shake or a mild brushing, small debris and pieces of dirty can be loosened from the carpet pile and then if there is some air flow for the dirt to freely fall into and go with the flow; it will. If you simply try to suck the dirt straight up without agitating the carpet, it is more likely you’ll just end up wedging the dirt more tightly into the pile.

Many years back, immediately after the end of the second World War, many fathers would (under mother’s close supervision) remove our large living and family room area rugs, hang them over the clothes line in the back yard and would beat the dickens out the carpet, raise great clouds of dust and the breeze, sometimes wind would take the dust away. They would continue this process until the beating raised virtually no dust. Only then, would the carpets be placed back on the floor.

Shortly thereafter, many purchased a Hoover canister style vacuum. It was the color of milky cocoa and slid on skids. Many mothers was proud of that appliance. they used it daily. After they purchased the vacuum, the next time fathers removed the area rugs to the clothes line for their semi annual beating, there was almost no dust. Thus ended the semi annual rug beating ritual in the house.

Now this is relevant to our discussion of the fact that suction is not as crucial as some vacuum advertisers would have you believe; as long as you understand that the area rugs in the discussion here were very light weight. They had virtually no nap/pile. They were only slightly heavier than upholstery fabric sewn/glued to a backing.

That’s important because there wasn’t much more than surface to these carpets/rugs, and what debris did land on them was vacuumed daily so the dirt did not have the opportunity to be driven deep into the pile/nap. Consequently, a suction only vacuum, used daily was quite sufficient to keep these carpets/rugs clean. Nowadays, in most homes where there are still two parents it is likely that both work outside of the home and the vacuuming cannot be done daily and surely in single parent households, daily vacuuming is near impossible. Also, carpets/rugs come in a wider variety of materials and surfaces than they used to.

It is easy to believe that great suction power is necessary because there is less vacuuming going on and it is equally likely that the pile/nap of the modern carpets is heavier/denser/plusher and therefore perhaps more efficient at holding on to the debris that falls or is driven upon/into it. Not so! The beating example is still useful. You will clean the carpet more effectively beating it and letting the breeze take the dust away than by simply sucking the dirt up.

How effectively you clean the carpets will be determined by how dusty/dirty they were in the first place and that is largely determined by the density of the pile/nap, how often they were or were not vacuumed, how much traffic the home has, and the nature of the traffic.

If the carpet/rugs are not vacuumed to clean or near clean, their useful life (or at least attractive useful life) is shortened. Dirt (or even shampoo residue) has sharp edges. When the dirt is sucked up into the pile and then driven back down again or when it’s just sitting in the pile, it’s abrading and cutting the threads of the carpet pile. The weekly vacuuming then sucks up almost as much of the cut pile threads as it does dirt. Over time this shows up as flattened areas of the carpet that clearly identifies traffic lanes. In some older homes, I am sure you are familiar with hallway carpet runners worn through to the backing. That is an extreme result of incomplete, or poor vacuuming.

So when the kindly cultured gentlemen show up on the television advertising their powerful vacuums, remember this: the most critical cleaning element of the vacuum is not the suction but the brush roll and its profile as related to the type of carpet pile/nap you have. If you own a handmade carpet, such as the gorgeous and costly rugs from Iran, India, Pakistan and other areas throughout Central, Southern and far Eastern Asia you will be advised to vacuum with suction only. Sadly, unless you do that very frequently and also have these fabulous pieces hand cleaned they will ruined by standard vacuuming.

When you visit the department store, the big box store, the discount store and select a vacuum based on some magazine or web site reviews how will you know which type of bristles on the brush roll are appropriate for the carpet surface you have, the traffic in your home and the frequency or not of vacuuming in your home.

You cannot go to the hardware store and select any screwdriver for any screw driving job. You need to know which type of head is being driven, and how much torque may be necessary before you select that tool. No different for pliers, wrenches or….vacuums!

Visit the vac shop. Seek the advice of an expert in vacuuming and carpet care. Your carpet will last longer, you’ll not have to replace the vacuum as frequently and you may experience a marvelous side benefit of having less dust airborne and settling in your home.

Interesting Facts About Vacuum Cleaners.

Interesting Facts About Vacuum Cleaners.

  • Most of the cleaning is actually accomplished by the brush system.
  • The primary job of the air flow is to transport the dirt to the containment system.
  • The secondary job of the air flow is to cool the motor.
  • High powered motors that produce very high volumes of air movement can cause particles to blow by the dirt transport path to the back of the floor nozzle housing, and escape capture.
  • In modern vacuums, the dirt path is through the hose and not through the fan chamber.
  • Most modern vacuums employ have filters in front of the motor, on the exhaust air vents, and in the motor compartment itself. All these filters require either cleaning or replacement.
  • Dirty filters can inhibit the free flow of air in the system and cause the motors’ operations to be compromised.
  • Dirty filters will cause dust to collect in the motor and be ejected into the room.
  • HEPA filters clogged with dust will inhibit air flow and cause the motor to overheat and possibly burn out.
  • A clogged HEPA filter will also create extra pressure on the seals and gaskets of the system and cause dust to be aerosolized into the vacuumed room through leaks in the seals and gaskets.
  • Filters in high wattage systems require more maintenance than those in lower power systems.

Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Vacuum!

Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Vacuum!

If you don’t want to pay for a bunch of marketing and a lot of “features” that don’t really help you clean your floors any better, you should buy it from a place that also fixes them. Nobody understands what makes a vacuum work like the people who actually have to repair and maintain them. That’s what we do here at the Vac Shop in Mayfield.

We’ve been fixing and selling vacuums for over decades and we’ve worked on just about every single make and model made in that time. We know our vacuums and we have some vacuum buying advice for you.

You need the right vacuum for the surfaces that you’re cleaning
There is no one size fits all when it comes to vacuums. What you’re vacuuming and how often you vacuum it matters when selecting a vacuum cleaner. Each vacuum has a range of applications that its best suited for performing. Most vacuums are made to work best on medium to low-cut pile carpet. Vacuums that can be fitted with different kinds of tools are the most versatile.

Suction alone does not clean carpet
You do not need a vacuum with more horsepower than a muscle car to get your carpet and floors clean. The bulk of the cleaning is accomplished by the brush roll which agitates the debris loose, and then the suction/air flow of the vacuum transports the debris to the collection chamber. Carpet requires a precise combination of brushing & agitation with airflow appropriate for the pile/nap of your carpeted surfaces.

Delicate Surface Should be Cleaned with Suction Only Tools
Fine hand made pieces, silks, cottons, wools or hook rugs that could be damaged by brushing or agitation at high speed or with stiff bristles should only be cleaned with a tool that only provides suction to avoid damaging the material. With the most delicate carpets and rugs you may only want to hand clean them because even a suction only tool may be too much for them.

All Vacuum Cleaners Require Maintenance
The promise of a maintenance free vacuum is purely marketing spin. All vacuum cleaners should be serviced once a year to keep them functioning at their best. A poorly maintained vacuum may not only be cleaning less effectively, it could also be kicking out airborne particles into the air that you’re breathing through leaky seals, gaskets, and filters. A properly maintained vacuum doesn’t just last longer. It cleans better.

No Really, you need to get your vacuum serviced
Too many vacuum operators do not realize that the belt on many inexpensive vacuums stretch with use and over time. When it does, the brush roll agitation is hampered and the unit cannot deep clean. Your vacuum works on dirty surfaces and dirt gets trapped in the filters, motors, foam mutes, all the moving parts, seals, and gaskets. The end result is the free flow of air is disrupted and clouds of particles are ejected into the air whenever you vacuum. A well maintained vacuum with a fresh brush roll, a new belt, and new filters will usually operate like it were new.

Don’t buy a bagless vacuum
Our experience is that vacuums that do not use disposable bags lose their dust management capabilities faster than vacuums that do use disposable bags. Bagless vacuums are less sanitary and require more frequent disposal of collected dirt and also require more frequent filter replacement or maintenance. Any money you save on buying vacuum bags you’ll quickly spend on replacing filters ahead of schedule and on service (if you can get it). We consider bagless vacuums to be so unsanitary that we refuse to use one in our own personal home .

If you have allergies, the wrong vacuum will make them worse
All vacuums tend to produce airborne dust.  The better vacuums do a better job of keeping the dust in, and the best vacuums do that well for a longer period of time than do the economy priced and department store versions.

The right vacuum cleaner for you will help your carpets last longer
A well maintained and properly matched vacuum cleaner for your cleaning needs will not only result in cleaner carpets and floors for you, it’ll also help you make your carpets last longer. Dirt and shampoo residue trapped in your carpet pile accelerate the wear and tear on your carpet.

Types of Vacuums?


Upright Vacuum

If you were to give a 4 year old a carton of crayons and paper and ask him or her to draw a “vacuum cleaner” he or she would draw a picture that would resemble an upright vacuum. This is a popular style in Australia,  These vacuums are pushed in front of the user and have a handle extending from the main body. Most have a spinning brush roll, and many have onboard tools for cleaning upholstery, stairs or hard to reach areas.

Canister Vacuum

This type of vacuum is usually identified with its long hose and separate motor and filtering unit, usually rectangular or oval shaped, and wheels that allow it to be pulled behind the user. Canister vacuums come with several types of nozzles. One type is a “straight suction,” usually a combination floor/rug tool. This type has no brush roll and is used primarily for hard style floors and/or throw rugs. Some canisters are fitted with a “turbo brush,” which is driven by the power and speed of the air moving through the nozzle much like the action of a windmill. No electric motor is present in these types of heads. Many canister vacuums are equipped with a “powerhead.” These heads are driven by a separate electric motor (separate from the motor inside the canister housing) and are used where thicker carpets are in place. Most “powerheads” have a switch that can be turned “off” so that hard floors can be cleaned with the same head. This is the most versatile of vacuum types as it can accomplish nearly all household vacuuming jobs (not suitable for wet/dry applications).

Central or Ducted  Vacuum System

This type of vacuum system is typically mounted in the basement or garage and has 1 or 2 larger and more powerful motors. These systems have the air routed through the walls via PVC pipe and wall outlets with a 30’ long hose inserted into the vacuum inside the house. Some systems use a “turbo” brush and others permit the use of a separate “powerhead” to provide the same cleaning performance as upright or canister type vacuums. With this type of system, the dirt and allergens are exhausted outside of the house. Some people do not like having to hang or store the 30’ hose and powerhead.

Handheld Vacuum

These are small vacuums that are used for small or quick jobs around the home. They can be made with an electrical cord that must be plugged in or may be “cordless” with a rechargeable battery.

Steam Vacuum

This type of vacuum is a misnomer, as these carpet cleaning systems do not actually produce steam. However, this is the label that has typically been applied to these types of cleaners. They are more correctly household “extractors.” In most cases, these cleaners inject carpet cleaning solution into the carpet through one or more jets, the solution is agitated by the use of a brush to loosen the embedded dirt in the carpet and then a vacuum motor “extracts” the dirt and water based solution and deposits it inside an internal tank in the unit where it can then be emptied.

Stick Vacuums

Stick vacuums are usually small and lightweight in their design. They have a long handle and can have an electrical cord or can be powered by a rechargeable battery. They are used primarily for small areas or for quick pick ups.

Backpack/Hip Vacuum

Vacuums of this style are very portable and are carried on the back with a shoulder or waist harness for equal weight distribution. They are quite powerful and are used mostly in commercial applications as they can do a wide variety of jobs. These types of vacuums can be used with a turbo brush or a powerhead (the vacuum must be manufactured or retrofitted with an appropriate plug for use with a powerhead).

Wet/Dry Vacuums

These vacuums are used for a variety of industrial or heavy duty jobs. The vacuums can be used to pick up water or wet solutions as well as large particles of a dry nature. Some wet/dry vacuums have multiple motors for additional power, and some can be fitted with a squeegee to funnel water or wet material into them more easily. Some units may be fitted with advanced HEPA filtration when being used for hazardous material cleanup. They come in a variety of sizes—from a few litres to those that can be fitted to a large barrel.

Carpet Sweeper

Although technically this is not a vacuum as it has no motor to create air flow, we include it as another means of cleaning your floors. Many of you have seen these in use at restaurants. During the time when patrons are eating, it is not desirable to turn on a vacuum cleaner and have the noise and the potential churning up of a lot of airborne dust. This mechanical device utilizes a brush, or rubber vanes, to sweep particles on top of floors or carpets, and brush them into a holding compartment to be emptied later.

What is a HEPA Filter?

What is a HEPA Filter?


HEPA is not a material. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) is a standard of filtration. Specifically the standard requires that (99.97%  of all particulate as large  as .3 microns is trapped within the filter. The designation of HEPA is awarded by certified testing laboratories. There is nothing however in the rules that defines how long the filter must retain that efficiency. Neither are they rules that define under what rate of air flow the filter must perform.

vacuum manufacturers routinely have their filters performance tested at 55–60cfm (cubic feet of air per minute) and then install the filters in vacuum cleaners that move air at upwards of 75 to 100 cfm. That is not against the rules in the United States. There are also no rules to define the type and effectiveness of the sealing the filters have in the systems that they’re installed into. Consequently, even when you have a HEPA filter that’s every bit as good as advertised, leaky seals and gaskets can result in your vacuum cleaner aerosolizing allergens, microbes, and other particles into the air you’re breathing.

In contrast, HEPA standards Europe apply to the entire system and not just to the filter. European HEPA standards have teeth and they’re enforced by European Common Market. The European standard is known as EN (European Norm) 1822.

If you are buying a vacuum with a HEPA filter because you or someone at home is highly reactive to airborne allergens, be sure you are buying one made to the European Norm (EN 1822). Many vacuums produced by American companies fail to meet the more aggressive European standards and are aggressively marketed with special features to distract your attention from the lower quality of their filtration systems.

Here are some examples of vacuums that are sold more on marketing power than on technical merit.

Bagless Vacuums
Based on our experience in repairing vacuums, we are convinced that bagless vacuum systems do not age well and may make allergies worse as they get older. HEPA filters installed in bagless systems become occluded with dust and microscopically small particulate quickly, and to compensate for their clogged condition the vacuum leaks exhaust air.

Super Powerful Motors
A well designed vacuum cleaner only needs so much suction to clean effectively. More does not mean better and having too much suction in a poorly engineered vacuum will only degrade the unit’s HEPA filter and its seals and gaskets even faster.

All-In-One Systems
All vacuums are designed for a targeted flooring surface. The wrong vacuum design will make the allergic response conditions and the hygiene of the home worse. Your vacuum should be able to employ a variety of cleaning heads for a wider selection of vacuum surfaces. For example, a cleaning head with a brush roll may be great for carpets, but you wouldn’t want it on a hard wood surface where it’ll kick dust and debris around.

Want to see the difference between a properly sealed HEPA filter vs. the leaky filter found in your typical department store brand vacuums?