So you’re vacuuming the living room. You aren’t really thrilled about it, but it seems to be going alright. You push under the coffee table and Clunk! The smell of burning rubber lets you know that things have suddenly gone very wrong. Probably should have checked to see if that pizza slice that hit the floor last night was still under there… What a mess. Now the vacuum isn’t working right AND a slice of pizza has been senselessly mutilated. What’s next? All joking aside, getting the vacuum back into running shape shouldn’t be too tough. Read on and learn what to watch for when working with your vacuum’s belt….
Vacuum cleaner belts are one of the most frequently changed components on most vacuum cleaners. Belts stretch, slip, melt, fray, break and occasionally just dismount. If you find yourself in need of a new belt, it’s important to check things out while you’re working with your machine.
Most belts are easily accessed by removing the brush guard on the bottom of your vacuum, or by removing the hood over the brush roll. Your vacuum’s instruction manual will guide you in accessing the belt. Once you’ve reached the belt, stop and look it over. How is your belt damaged? The nature of the belt’s failure can tell you something of what’s going on with your vacuum.
A stretched belt that is slipping will have a shiny inner surface, and may also show some cracking. Slipping can cause melting damage to some brush rolls, so carefully inspect the surface where the belt makes contact, and make sure it is not damaged. A stretched out belt is not out of the ordinary – and doesn’t necessarily mean that there are any other problems with your vacuum. Because rubber belts get pretty warm during normal operation, and are stretched to ensure the necessary tension to drive the brush roll, stretching / relaxing of the belt material occurs naturally over time. Some vacuum models use a fiber reinforced belt, which cannot stretch, and tends to last a lot longer. These belts usually have small “teeth” around their inner circumference, and mount to a pulley and brush that have corresponding “teeth” to ensure a no-slip grip. This type of belt requires much less frequent replacement than the more common “flat” rubber belt.
A break in the belt can occur with extreme wear or cracking in dry environments, or can commonly occur when the brush is stopped abruptly by a carpet’s edge, a stray sock, or other objects. In many cases, if the brush roll is not maintained regularly, animal hair or human hair or other long fibers can collect on the brush and interfere with the belt’s grip on the brush, or create extra fiction at the brush’s bearing ends. Always check your brush for hair or other fibers and make an effort to maintain a cleared brush. If you find that your brush does not turn freely or seems stiff to turn, or if there is any melting damage at the bearing ends, it is important to replace the brush with a new one. A poorly performing brush will eat belts quickly, and may cause other damage to the vacuum cleaner.
When replacing your belt, be sure to use the recommended belt for your vacuum. Using the right belt ensures proper tension and performance – a belt that is too tight can cause premature wear to your brush (and the belt) – a belt that is too loose will slip / melt / not turn the brush. Your vacuum cleaner’s instruction manual will tell you what belt to use. Many vacuum cleaners display belt information right on the model label, or on a label near the brush roll. Always use the right belt! If you’re not sure where to get a new one (or a new brush roll), you can always look to us at www.NelsonAppliance.com . We are happy to help you figure which belt is right for your machine, and supply you any parts you need.
Tip – always check the floor (especially under the bed or the coffee table) for any loose objects that might get pulled into the vacuum BEFORE you start vacuuming!
Because this is the first post to my blog about repairing small household appliances, I think it makes sense to talk about the types of small machines I’ll be posting about here, and what to watch for when you’re getting started on a project. I have been performing repairs at Nelson Appliance Repair in Colorado Springs for more than 20 years, and in that time I have fixed many thousands of small appliances. I have collected a lot of specific information about small appliances and vacuum cleaners that might be helpful to machine owners who want to fix their own appliances. I will do my best to pass on what will hopefully be useful information and advice to those of you who (like me) prefer to fix things yourself.
From bread makers to espresso machines, electric can openers to pressure cookers, shavers to vacuum cleaners, mixers to lamps, and too many others to mention individually, I have learned that each machine is a collection of mechanical and electrical systems designed to work in balance with each other to complete a task or a series of tasks. Some of you are probably thinking “that’s obvious”. You’re right – that is obvious, but keeping that basic idea in mind is also the basis of any successfull approach to analyzing a machine that’s not working up to par or not working at all.
Repairing any small appliance is all about problem-solving. Understanding how an appliance works, and paying close attention to any symptoms it displays when it isn’t working as it’s supposed to is important to starting the diagnosis of the problem (or problems) .
Always start with the simplest possibilities – don’t over-complicate things before you get started. Many times I’ve worked with an appliance that the owner had attempted to repair at home, and not meeting with success, or simply getting frustrated, had given up and brought it to my shop for help. Often I’ve found that simple possibilities had been overlooked, and worst-case assumptions had been made. Recently, an espresso machine was brought to the shop with the complaint that no water would flow through the brew head. The customer had already purchased and installed a new pump at home, but there was still no flow through the brew head (nor was there any output at the steam wand when we tested it). What we found was an obstruction below the removeable water reservoir that was preventing it from seating fully into the machine. Essentially, the machine had no water supply. A stuck coffee bean was simply keeping the reservoir from descending fully into its mount and delivering water to the machine. This was not the first time I have seen this specific issue, and probably won’t be the last. The point, of course, is don’t make assumptions – check the simple things first! Look for the simplest explanations before you start preparing for major surgery and you may just save yourself a lot of time and expense.