Common mistakes when using a canister vacuum

Common mistakes when using a canister vacuum

Canister vacuums are without any doubt one of the most versatile cleaning tools available and they are super simple to use. However, they are not designed to swallow up everything lying on your floor and are not a maintenance-free tool. They surely are known for durability and reliability but canister vacuums also need proper maintenance and care to be taken off like all other appliances. These easy-to-use tools can make your home look and feel cleaner and more beautiful however you need to make sure that you use this machine in the best possible manner. There exist some common spots that people usually neglect and these mistakes result in causing damage to your canister.

1. Picking up wrong substances:

  • Vacuuming wet food or other moist things. An average canister vacuum is designed to pick up only dry particles. If you are using it to clean up wet food or spilled milk or other similar items, then it may cause damage to your cleaner. A good wet/dry vacuum cleaner would be most suitable for such jobs.
  • Picking up pieces of broken glass could be really harmful to your canister. The broken glass pieces can break your dust bag, can get clogged in the hose, and can even damage the interior of the vacuum. For cleaning up broken glasses or other sharp objects you must use a broom.
  • Apart from glass, other objects like coins, paperclips, etc. should not be left over on the floor to be cleaned by vacuum. You must simply remove all such items before starting to vacuum clean your surface with a canister.
  • Canister vacuums are designed to capture all dirt and dust effectively however if there is sand residue; your canister may not be able to work on it. For that, you need an expensive durable cleaning machine. These fine sand particles usually are responsible for clogging filters and bags causing your canister to not work properly.
  • Also, fireplace ashes are really fine and a normal vacuum cleaner would not be able to suck them up. Moreover, they trap heat too. So if you find no other option better than vacuuming the area, let it dry (cool) down for some days and clean it then.

2. Too much vacuuming:

A common mistake that usually people do is that they believe that too much vacuuming will cause damage to their carpets or wooden floors. However, it is a complete myth. In order to prevent any damage, you only need to vacuum with care. For all those carpeted areas that witness a high amount of traffic, daily vacuuming should be done and the areas that are light to medium traffic ones require around two times a week of vacuuming with a canister. If you are vacuuming less and have complained about the canister not cleaning up the carpet properly then it is a mistake at the users’ end. When you don’t clean the carpet often, dust and dirt get accumulated deep inside the base which then becomes even harder to remove. You may even need to remove and replace the carpet as this embedded dust may cause allergies and give place to dust mites. Regularly vacuum carpets.

3. Improper use of vacuum, tools, and attachments:

  • Follow tips for proper use of canister vacuum for cleaning effectively all around the house. Usually what people do is that they vacuum all around the areas that do not have any hindrances just for the sake of convenience. Your canister comes with varied attachments with which you can easily reach all difficult-to-clean areas under the furniture, on the walls, and elsewhere. When you do not clean those places, dust accumulates under such items. So use all attachments wherever required and as recommended. Canisters include dusting brushes, crevice tools, and other gadgets that make way for more effective cleaning. You won’t be able to take the best benefits out of your canister if you are not using tools and attachments properly.
  • Users usually neglect to adjust the beater when they are cleaning their fragile rugs. The rug needs deep cleaning and for that, you must adjust the beater at the highest height level. For all those rugs with tassels at their end, avoid vacuuming over them in order to prevent them from getting damaged by your canister machine.
  • You are still vacuuming even if the bag is full. It is recommended that you must change or empty your canister vacuum bag when it reaches around 3/4th of its capacity to hold dust and dirt. Many vacuums include an indicating light that notifies when the vacuum bag is completely full however you must not wait until the light blinks and must check yourself in order to have great suction power for cleaning. If you are using a bagless canister vacuum, you must clean up the dust cup.
  • The filter is an important component of canister vacuums. If your filter is completely full and you still are using a vacuum, it would strain out your motor and can result in damage. Moreover, if the filter is full, you won’t be able to get rid of allergens and odor from the air. So before your filter wears down, it is best to replace it. For HEPA filters, it is recommended that you change them every 6 months. However, for more accurate details about changing filters of your specific machine, check the user’s manual for recommendations.
  • For corded vacuums, usually have a cord rewind button or pedal. In both cases. You need to manually guide the power cord for retraction. If you fail to redirect the cord, it may get damaged by moving on to the wrong track and may need to be repaired. You must hold the power cord with your hands to wind it back while pressing the rewind button or pedal.
  • Do not maintain canisters properly. Regular maintenance is what your canister needs in order to operate properly.

Some Common Problems

Some basic questions related to the problem need to be answered before starting to repair:

  • Is the canister not turning on?
  • Is the canister turning on but not staying on?
  • Is your machine leaving dust and debris back on the floor?
  • Is the vacuum not working evenly?
  • Is the suction power not appropriate?
  • Is the machine producing different noises?
  • Is the machine returning a bad odor?
  • Is it tripping the room’s circuit breaker?

Once the problem is identified, then it becomes easier to repair!

Steps for repairing

1. If the canister vacuum is not starting:

  • Check if the canister vacuum is plugged in properly and switched on. Also, check if the outlet you are using has a proper flow of power according to the requirements of your machine. You can try checking with a circuit tester or can plug any other appliance (like a lamp) to check if the outlet is working fine. If it is not offering power flow properly, then your vacuum will obviously not work. Repair the outlet or use another outlet with an extension cord.
  • If the canister vacuum is not turning on at all, make sure that the circuits have continual power flowing through them. You can use a multi-meter for that purpose. Check for circuits that may be open and if you find any place where the continuity is missing; replace that area. Make use of the correct fuse. For a canister to start on properly, it is required that the flow of electricity must be in full circuit with complete continuity.

2. If the vacuum stops working:

  • Check if the canister is overheated. Many of the high-end canister vacuums feature a function that immediately stops the appliance from working if it reaches an above-average temperature. This is done in order to protect the motor and machine.
  • If the canister stops in the middle of functioning, switch it off and unplug the machine. Wait for 25-30 minutes or refer to your user manual to check for similar instructions. After waiting carefully turn it on.

3. If the vacuum has a low-powered suction:

  • If you are witnessing a bad suction power or if the canister is leaving a bad odor of any sort or if it is leaving behind dust and debris on your floor. The problem may be lying in the cleaning and maintenance of your canister machine. Check if the machine is properly clean. Give special attention to dust bags and filters. They must be clean and in proper condition.
  • Check all other parts like hose, roller, etc. for any clogging that you might notice, clear these parts carefully and your cleaner may begin to work properly again. All the airways must be clear and clean.

4. Dust leakage or bad odor:

  • If you find that any part of your hose has a leakage, you can easily repair it with the use of electrical tape or silicone sealant. If it is badly worn, it is better to be replaced.
  • Check the belts. Your canister belt must be properly engaging the drive shaft, brush roll, and other moving components of your appliance. Any belt that is slipped may result in a bad distinctive odor of burning plastic or rubber.

5. If some parts are not working properly:

  • The brush roll must be spinning properly when it is required to spin. If needed clean the roll and lubricate all the movable bearings. If you wind any of these having a need for replacement, get a new one and replace it. You will find wooden brush rolls in old models while many new machines now have plastic ones. The proper functioning of the brush roll can be checked by looking underneath the cleaner. Do not touch it and prevent your hair, clothes, and other parts of your body from getting in contact with the brush roll. When you are using a vacuum over carpets, make sure that the switch is set for carpeting so that the brush roll is properly engaged for deep cleaning.
  • Check if there are any breakers or fuses that may have worn out and you may need to replace them for proper working.
  • Check the motor of your canister. If the motor is the problem area, see if replacing the motor is economical or whether it would be better to invest in getting a new cheap vacuum cleaner. Although there are some parts of the motor that can be serviced in case of damage you may be left with the option to replace the entire motor only.
  • Inspect the brushes. Open the housing of the brushes and connect the wires again properly and then close the brush housing. If the brushes are worn out, you can replace them.
  • The bearings or blower can be a problem area for any canister’s reduced performance. The motor includes bearings and a blower is often connected to them. Your machine may also have bearings in the powered drive wheels and for the drive shaft. Check and lubricate the bearings. You can also replace these bearings if needed. Inspect proper spinning of these bearings. Some uneven and weak operation of your canister may be because of broken or bent fins of the blower. These must be replaced and if not replaced they may cause damage to the motor.
  • Check for broken or uneven wheels. Broken wheels may often slow down the movement of your canister machine and replacing these parts is not an issue at all. Just remove the caps from the attachment points of the wheels and fix new ones.


These simple guidelines for repairing your canister vacuum would result in the proper functioning of your vacuum cleaner without being a burden on your pocket and without giving you the hassle of contacting someone for repair or servicing.

If you have a reasonably good vacuum cleaner and are still experiencing problems while cleaning around your house, one of the above-mentioned could be mistakes that you might be making with the use of your canister. Even if you can’t find solutions with these guidelines and you are not satisfied with the working of your canister, contact a repair technician to seek help in this regard or claim a service warranty (where applicable).

Mea Archer
I am Mea Archer, administrator of one of the most popular vacuumcleaner review blog in the world. I was born and raised in Australia. I have always been fascinated by home appliances and how they work. This is what led me to pursue a career in vacuum cleaner reviews. If you are looking for honest and unbiased reviews of the latest vacuum cleaners on the market, then you have come to the right place. I am always updating my blog with the latest information so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing a new vacuum cleaner.