Common Vacuum Problems

  • There is a Burning Smell coming from my vacuum.

There are a couple culprits you may suspect when smelling a “hot” or burning smell coming from your machine. In many cases there may be a problem with your brush roll (agitator) or the belt that connects it to the motor. First, unplug your vacuum and turn it over to inspect the brush roll. Over time your vacuum will begin to collect strings, hair, or other fibers that could restrict movement.

In many cases, these fibers work their way to the bearings of your brush roll and can cause friction and heat that will destroy it. The friction causes the belt to spin, but your brush to remain stationary, causing eventual belt breakage and motor problems. Check your brush roll often for build-up, it’s also important to replace these regularly because the greased bearings will overheat, dry up, and fail over time.

  • My vacuum is really loud all of a sudden

When your vacuum begins to make loud noises, like high-pitched screaming sounds when turned on, it is most likely caused by a motor-pulley bearing. This means your motor is beginning to deteriorate, most likely caused by another issue that went unchecked or unfixed. Replacing the motor may be the only option, but you can call or email us and we’ll be happy to run through other alternatives with you. In many cases, replacing the motor is easier than you think, and much less expensive than replacing your entire machine.

  • When I turn on my vacuum it shakes or vibrates

There are a couple reasons this could be happening. Your vacuums brush-roll is balanced for extremely high rpms. Over time, and especially without regular maintenance, your brush-roll’s bearings will degrade. When this happens your machine may begin to shake because the brush-roll is out of balance. You’ll need to replace this—most people don’t realize that many professionals recommend replacing the brush-roll twice a year, depending on the amount of use.

If you have a vacuum that has a flow-through motor, something may have damaged your motor’s fan. This can happen if you vacuum over things like pennies, dice, marbles, pens, or other small hard objects. With a flow-through motor, everything your vacuum pulls out of your carpet flows around the fan. If your fan is broken, it will need to be replaced, so make sure to pick up the little things you don’t want harming your machine.

  • My vacuum’s brush roll isn’t moving

This can be the same issue as smelling a burning smell from your machine. Your brush-roll may be stuck from fibers, hair, or strings that wrap around it. You can use a razor blade to carefully cut away these fibers, but the damage may have already been done and your brush-roll may need to be replaced.

Your belt may be broken. There is a belt that connects your brush-roll to a motor. These belts get a lot of punishment when you’re using your vacuum, and they will all eventually break over time. When this happens, it’s fairly easy to take apart the bottom of the vacuum and reconnect the belt to the brush-roll and the motor pulley. These are inexpensive parts, so buying two, just in case is never a bad idea.

  • It’s running, but my vacuum isn’t picking up anything

First, check your bag. It may be full. Most professionals recommend replacing your bag when it’s ½ full. Having too much rubbish in your bag decreases suction on your machine and could cause long-term harm to your vacuum.

Your vacuum may have a dirty filter. There are different filters for different machines, some of them are washable and some of them must be replaced regularly. The washable filters are generally easy to reach, and you can just clean them out with warm water (make sure they are completely dry before placing them back in your machine). The disposable filters must be replaced, professionals recommend as often as you replace your home’s air conditioner filters—once a month. You can also use compressed air to clean these to prolong life in between replacements.

You may have a clog. Depending on your machine, there are many places you can catch a clog; Sometimes right behind the brush-roll or in the body of the vacuum. Other times it could be as easy as having a large object in your vacuum’s hose. You can just take these off and look through them to see if you find a clog.

  • The suction on my vacuum seems to be bad

Many of these issues are addressed above in “It’s running, but my vacuum isn’t picking up anything.” But a couple more reasons you could be experiencing suction issues could be your vacuum bag or bag-housing. If your vacuum bag gets wet or is too full it can cause loss of suction. Also, make sure your vacuum bag-housing is clean (the cloth outer bag that holds your paper vacuum bag.) The pores of these outer bags manage exhaust flow and keep your vacuum running cool. You can clean these with compressed air. A little Febreze on the inside and outside of your cloth bag housing can keep your vacuum smelling fresh and clean; be sure it’s not over-saturated.

  • My vacuum is turning off and on by itself when I use it.

You may have a wiring short. First unplug your machine and check the power cord. We have all run over our cord once or twice. We hope to not damage it, but it happens. If your cord isn’t damaged, then you may have an internal wire shortage. Call us or email us and we would be happy to help you run through some different ideas to help you resolve the problem or determine if you need a new part. Be especially careful when dealing with electrical issues; always keep your machine unplugged when working on wiring.

  • Oh no, I ran over my vacuum cord.

Immediately unplug your vacuum. If your power cord is damaged, it can be a potential fire hazard, and that is something to take very seriously. If your cords outer housing isn’t broken and exposing wire, then you can wrap some electrical tape around the area to provide extra support. (in case you run it over again) If the outer housing on your cord is damage and you can see any part of the internal wires, do not use your vacuum without replacing the cord. These wires could cause a spark and a subsequent fire. Please call us or email us immediately and we can have a new cord sent to you through FedEx ground so your machine is running safely as soon as possible.

If you need continued assistance, please contact us at [email protected] or call us at 866-243-2721.


  1. the rear wheels dont roll good and seem to be worn out…its a hoover bag type vacumn..model # U5071-930…how do you remove the wheels?

  2. I can’t remember how to wrap the tub & pips

  3. I have a Dirt Devil Stick Vac, w/floor charger, model 0313, 12 volt DC. When I put it on the charger, the green light comes on, but I cannot get my vac to start! Any suggestions? I dearly love this vac & need it badly!!!! Would you please help me!?!?!?!!

    • Hi Lynn.

      That’s a great question. I talked to our Repair Specialist, and he said it could be an issue with either the charger or the battery. I forwarded your contact information to him and he’ll follow up with you soon!

  4. I have a Bissell Featherweight 3106-1 that stopped working. I was fine and now it wont turn on. Any ideas what could be wrong and how I can fix it myself? I appreciate the advise. Thank you.

    • Hi TQ,

      Thanks for asking a question on our blog! I have forwarded your question to one of our vacuum specialists and they’ll get it touch with you as soon as they arrive.

      If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to come back and ask!

    • TQ, Here’s what our Tech had to say:

      “Thank you for your inquiry.

      Electrical issues are the most difficult to diagnose in an email format.

      There are several things it could be. The only way to be certain is if
      you have a volt meter

      and you can test individual components, such as the switch and the
      cord for continuity.

      The issue with this particular model is that Bissell does not sell many parts for it.

      If you’d like to discuss further, feel free to give me a call 866-243-2721.


  5. hi I have a hoover stemvac spin scrub #f5909 and the brushes stop turning is their a belt or what can it be

  6. Where can I buy filters for a Filter Queen sweeper?

  7. How to replace a power cord on a Rainbow SE Vacuum cleaner?

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