The motor is an essential part of a vacuum cleaner because it affects the suction power of your machine. If your vacuum motor is bad, the vacuum loses its suction power.
A bad vacuum motor may release smoke, sound off-key, or run in fits and starts as an indication of damage or problems. That means you will have low suction power, which is disappointing, and cleaning your home or even a few spaces around the house will be an uphill task.
You will have to use more energy to get the desired result while vacuuming because dirt or dust will not be eliminated by just one pass of the vacuum cleaner. Therefore, a functioning vacuum motor is vital in a vacuum cleaner.
In this post we will cover:
- Importance of a Vacuum Motor
- How do I know if my vacuum motor is bad?
- How to Replace Your Bad Vacuum Motor
- Fixing a Loud Noise in a Vacuum Cleaner Motor
- Is it worth getting a vacuum repaired?
- How do I know if my vacuum belt needs to be replaced?
- How do I replace my vacuum cleaner belt?
- Why is my vacuum making weird noises?
Importance of a Vacuum Motor
The motor of a vacuum cleaner is the heart of the machine. The vacuum motor involves electrical components that are attached to a fan in the vacuum cleaner or multiple fans.
When the vacuum is on and the fans are spinning, there is a creation of a partial vacuum in the machine and the pressure inside the unit drops below the air pressure that exists in the room.
Air will rush through the vacuum cleaner because the outside air pressure is higher than the one inside the unit.
The process is an indication that the motor is a vital element of any vacuum cleaner because the more powerful a motor is, the greater the difference in pressure, and therefore, more airflow and suction power.
The motor takes electrical power from a power source and then converts it into mechanical power in the form of suction with airflow.
Upright vacuums can have one motor driving both the brush and the vacuum, or two motors, one for the brush and a separate one for the vacuum.
The design of the vacuum motor can influence the suction power of the vacuum. Some vacuums have three fans on the motor instead of one, and that improves the suction performance of a vacuum cleaner.
How do I know if my vacuum motor is bad?
You will know if you have a bad vacuum motor when you try to turn your vacuum on and you hear a click. That is an indication that the motor is bad and needs to be replaced.
The second indication of a bad vacuum motor is when a strong smell comes from your machine, which signals that the motor is about to burn out or has already burned out.
The strong odor comes from the shellac, which coats the copper coil windings. If there is no odor, you will have to turn the machine on to observe the vacuum’s motor. If you see blue sparks, the problem is with the motor brushes.
At this point, you will have to inspect the vacuum’s commutator for motor brush problems. The commutator is the less wide center part where the two brushes on the motor are touching the rotating copper armature on the inner side.
A slight blue spark is normal, but a larger one that wraps around the commutator is an indication that the brushes need to be replaced. That can only be done if the motor’s bearing is solid and not wobbly.
You can test the stability of the motor’s bearing by turning off the motor and then pushing the central shaft, known as the armature.
If it does something else other than spinning, then you will have to replace the bad vacuum motor, but if the armature is solid, then it is only the brushes that will require to be replaced.
The third way to know if your vacuum motor is bad is when it has overheated if it is an electric motor because the machine will be brought to a screeching halt.
If the motor experiences an electric overload, it will have overloading issues and the more it works or is overloaded, the more it will lead to the motor failing.
Other causes of overheating are low resistance, contamination of debris and dirt, and vibration, all of which eventually lead to the motor’s failure.
The heat-induced failures of a motor can be prevented by thorough regular maintenance to minimize overheating and overworking of your unit, installing smart sensors that can give alerts on heat-induced problems as they occur, enabling you to fix them before a total breakdown, and installing overload protectors.
The fourth indication of a bad vacuum motor is a faulty motor that appears to be dead. A faulty motor is usually caused by over usage of the vacuum bag or blocked filters.
Therefore, when considering replacing the bad vacuum motor, it is essential to first check for underlying problems which might cause the motor to fail.
How to Replace Your Bad Vacuum Motor
The replacement of a bad vacuum motor is easy and straightforward, even without involving a professional. The first thing you have to consider is whether the replacement of your machine’s motor is worth the money.
In this case, you will have to ask yourself several significant questions before undertaking the replacement.
The first is how dirty you are willing to get because replacing the bad vacuum motor as a do-it-yourself project will be a dirty job.
That is because accessing the power unit will mean dealing with the dust and dirt that have accumulated in the motor’s chamber during its usage.
The second question is about the warranty on your machine, whether it is still active or it has expired. Ask yourself how much energy, time, and money you are willing to invest in a motor that is not under any coverage by the manufacturers.
Most vacuums have warranties of between five to ten years, and if you prefer a new model instead of a short fix, it would be best to buy a new machine.
The third question is whether you need more suction power because updating your machine’s bad motor will provide your vacuum with a fresh power boost.
The problem is that your current unit will be limited even with a new motor. If the vacuum cleaner that you have has low suction power, that disappoints you, then instead of installing a $200 motor in it, buy a unit that has powerful suction.
Lastly, ask yourself whether replacing your vacuum motor is a wise investment. Replacing the motor is the “free” option, while buying a new power unit is priced from $100 to $300.
Usually, changing your bad motor involves changing the carbon brush or filter with an addition of $100. If the motor has gone bad, it is likely that the cleaning accessories and the floor tools are dated too.
In a way, buying a new machine will be better than the cost of replacements for all of these things.
However, if you choose to replace your bad vacuum motor, the first step is finding the correct replacement motor using the vacuum motor finding tool.
Many options will pop up, but you will only need to choose the one that matches your machine’s brand on the menu and you will be taken to the correct replacement page.
Once you have received your vacuum’s motor after finding it and ordering it, begin to work on the installation.
First, remove the access door or lid by unscrewing the screws that hold it in place. Remove the items around the motor, such as filters, springs, or foam, and you can take a photo to remember its assemblage.
Secondly, detach the existing motor and take a photo of the wires connecting it before disconnecting them so that you can know how to connect them to the new motor.
Thirdly, connect the new motor and duplicate the wiring of the photo you took. Lastly, replace the padding required and screw the door or lid on and connect the foam, spring, or filter on as they were before screwing the lid or door in place.
A vacuum without a proper functioning motor is a cleaning tool that will only wear you out instead of meeting your cleaning needs.
The suction power of a vacuum is what makes it desirable because you will only need to pass your vacuum over a surface once and all the dirt, debris, and dust will be picked up in one sweep.
That will only happen if your vacuum motor functions properly without any problems.
Since the motors do not last forever, you will eventually come to a point where you need to replace your bad motor or buy a new vacuum cleaner, depending on the condition of your machine.
Fixing a Loud Noise in a Vacuum Cleaner Motor
If your vacuum motor produces an excessively loud noise, you can follow these steps to fix the issue. The first is to remove the machine’s bag and filter to ensure there is no debris or clogs. Clean the filters and bags according to the instructions provided in your manual.
The second step is inspecting the vacuum’s hose and removing large debris that may clog the tube on the inside. Large amounts of dust and other bouncing materials can cause the motor to be louder.
The third is removing the house which conceals the motor to inspect the fan for clogging or damage. Remove the debris or dirt from the fan and inspect the damage to the blades, such as bent or excessive sharpness of the blades.
Replace the damaged fan blades as needed. The fourth step is tightening the fan with a ratchet because a loose fan makes rattling sounds as the motor revolves.
The fifth is wiping dust and dirt from the engine’s frame because large quantities of dust and dirt may cause overheating of the motor, which in turn causes vibration and loud noise.
The sixth step is to look for corrosion on the engine and if it is corroded, it should be replaced. If you hear a grinding noise, grease the bearings of the motor as the seventh step.
Lastly, inspect your machine for broken pieces and worn-out parts and replace them.
Is it worth getting a vacuum repaired?
There are problems in a vacuum that can be fixed easily and are worth the repair without costing you a fortune.
Before undertaking any repairs, it is crucial to consider your vacuum’s age, quality, and purpose of use, whether commercial or residential. Some of the repairs that are worth your money have been discussed below.
If your vacuum becomes hard to push across your carpet, you can fix it by raising the height of the machine using a manual adjustment of carpet height. The adjustment should not be too high because it will damage the carpet. The fix does not cost you a penny.
The second issue is a damaged lead or plug, which is the common cause of a vacuum malfunctioning. The situation usually is that the lead is yanked out of its connector block inside the housing of the machine.
The cost of repairing the plug varies based on whether a simple rewriting is required or whether a new lead is required.
The third problem is when the brush roll of your vacuum does not turn when it is supposed to turn.
For you to solve the issue, you will need to check the brush roll for fabric, hair, and other debris stuck on the brush and remove them by cutting them with scissors.
If that is not done, you will need a new brush roll, a new belt, or both. The repairs will cost you from $3 to $40.
The fourth is that the vacuum having a weaker suction without any clogs in the hose. If your vacuum is bagless, that will require you to clean the filters or replace them regularly so that they can protect the motor and trap the dust effectively.
However, if the unit is a bagged one, you simply need to replace the dirt bag. The cost of replacing filters that are not washable ranges from $10 to $70.
The fifth is items getting stuck in the hose, such as paper clips and other smaller things. The solution to this issue is clearing the clog using a broomstick because it can fit into the hose. There are no costs to be incurred for fixing the problem.
The sixth issue is when your machine quits working when you are vacuuming with it. Many vacuums are engineered with overload switches that automatically cut off power when the motor gets extremely hot.
That is a protective feature that prevents a vacuum cleaner from overheating.
If your vacuum quits on you, the only thing you are required to do is simply let it cool for a few minutes and then restart it again.
It is also essential to check for clogs and a full bin or bag, which are common causes of vacuum overheating. The fix costs you nothing.
The cost of repairing your vacuum should not be more than the amount of the vacuum when you bought it. You can have your vacuum repaired depending on the damage or problem it has, and while some are quick fixes, others are not worth fixing.
When the vacuum motor needs to be replaced because it has worn out or damaged by water being vacuumed into the motor, it is not worth repairing because the cost is close to that of a new machine.
Some vacuums, such as upright and canister vacuums, are not worth repairing after five and seven years respectively. If your vacuum is beyond repair, it is time to buy a new one.
How do I know if my vacuum belt needs to be replaced?
Your vacuum belt is an essential part of your vacuum located next to the motor. The belt spins the brush roll, enabling your vacuum to pick up dirt.
Regular usage will cause the belt to stretch out, decreasing the speed and turn rate of the roller brush. Therefore, the belt should be replaced regularly based on usage.
You will know if your vacuum cleaner belt needs replacement if your vacuum suddenly gets extra noisy.
No vacuum cleaner operates when it is completely quiet, but when the noise of your machine suddenly increases, it could be an indication that the belt of your vacuum is about to break.
A belt that has been stretched to the limit or has become loose could signal problems with your vacuum. It also indicates that it is time to replace your vacuum belt.
The second is when you notice your machine leaving a trail when you vacuum with it. Instead of passing your unit over the same area again, check the machine’s belt and brush roll.
If the brush roll is fine, then you are dealing with a stretched belt. The belt of a vacuum is made of rubber and it tends to stretch-out before breaking.
If the belt is not firmly connected to the brush roll, then it will not provide the speed that your vacuum needs to pick up dirt.
The third indication that your belt needs a replacement is the decrease in your machine’s suction power, causing it not to pick up debris and dirt as it should be doing.
At this point, you should rule out all other possible causes of reduced suction power by first checking other parts of your unit. If they are not the cause, then your belt is broken.
How do I replace my vacuum cleaner belt?
Once you confirm that your vacuum has a broken, belt replacement is easy. Buy a replacement belt and you can find a belt for less than $5. The installation of a new belt requires you to begin by removing your vacuum’s bottom plate.
The plate has about four to eight screws holding it and possibly another plate holding the roller brush. Pull the brush out and clean it to remove all the strings and hair. Lay the machine on the floor with its underside up for the process.
Secondly, remove the old belt by pulling and sliding one end of the belt of the roller brush and the other end off the motor shaft. Clean the area around the motor bearing after removing the brush and belt to remove fiber and hair that have tangled there over time.
Thirdly, install the new belt by wrapping it around the spindle attached to the motor first and then working it around the ends of the roller brush.
It should not be too tight to allow the belt to rotate. Hook one end of the belt to the motor shaft and the other to the roller brush with letters on the vacuum’s belt facing out.
Lastly, lock the brush in its place and reattach the bottom plate back in its place and turn on your vacuum. If it is correctly placed, the belt will start spinning and the vacuum will work as it is supposed to work.
Why is my vacuum making weird noises?
In general, vacuum cleaners are noisy machines, but you can notice when the noise becomes louder. Find the source of the noise because a loud noise from your vacuum could be caused by several issues.
Some are easy to fix, while others will require you to take them to a repair shop.
The first is dirty filters, which may cause your machine to suddenly become loud. When the filters are excessively dirty, your vacuum becomes louder because it works harder to create suction. After all, the suction power of your vacuum will be reduced.
The solution to the problem is taking out your filters and getting rid of the dirt by rinsing them with warm water, leave them to dry, and put them back on your vacuum. The machine will run at its normal sound level.
The second is clogs, which can also make your machine noisy. Clogs may be caused by objects sucked up by the machine while vacuuming, like a toy or button.
The clogs cause the vacuum to work harder, causing it to produce a loud sound. Check the tube of your machine for clogs and use your hand to remove them if you find them.
If the clog is a tough one, use a stick or knitting needle, and if it is a bad one, take the vacuum to a repair shop.
The third is a broken bearing brush that causes the vacuum to vibrate and get louder. The problem can be remedied by removing the brush and replacing it, or taking it to a repair shop for a replacement if you are not comfortable handling it.
The fourth is a broken fan in the motor, which will cause the machine to have a louder sound than normal. The breaking of the fan may be caused by dirt that collects on the fan as vacuuming is done.
The solution is replacing the fan or taking it to a repair shop for replacement.
Linda Joan is a market researcher and publisher at Experts in Vacuum who has had an interest in topics related to vacuum cleaners since she was in university, out of curiosity and passion. She is now a full-time writer based in New York, New York.