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“People should use a vacuum cleaner conventionally.” This is Ed Maas’s most important tip. He is repairer at Repair Café Zaandijk in the Netherlands. Pulling the plug instead of the cord will prevent a lot of problems. Many people roll out the cord very hard. This quickly destroys the retractor or the cord in the machine, and then you will be worse off. If that happens, the vacuum has to be taken apart. Repair Café repairers see many vacuum cleaners with cable and plug problems. Both are easy to prevent.

Disassembling
The biggest repair problem with vacuum cleaners is that they are very difficult to disassemble. This is because vacuum cleaners are largely clicked together rather than being screwed closed. You need to know where to apply pressure or something breaks off easily. Repairers often don’t know where to begin when trying to open it. According to Harmen Meijer, Delft-based Repair Café repairer, “it usually takes an hour to open while the repair is quick”. Fortunately, more and more disassembly films can be found on the internet when you search by brand and model number.

The cause of vacuum cleaner problems often remains unclear. In the RepairMonitor – the database in which Repair Café repairers keep track of what they are repairing and how – the cause of the defect of 16 percent of the recorded vacuum cleaners is not clear.

Not really broken
Vacuum cleaners are in the top 3 of most-popular products brought to Repair Cafés. The RepairMonitor shows that vacuum cleaner repairs are often effective. Two thirds of the repairs carried out were successful and 10 percent of the owners received advice from the Repair Café.

Many of the vacuum cleaners brought in are not really broken. For example, Repair Café Zaandijk receives a lot of vacuum cleaners that have not been properly maintained or used. Often the dust bag is full, which means that the machine no longer has any suction power.

Knitting needle or broom-handle
Ed Maas asks visitors to first clean the vacuum cleaner and replace the dust bag. This often solves a lot of problems. If the suction is still not adequate, “check if the hose is clogged up. You do this by placing your hand on the end, no air means it’s clogged”. The blockage is usually very easy removed with, for example, a knitting needle or broom-handle. This is one of the five solutions that Repair Café repairers often use when dealing with vacuum cleaner problems.

Top solutions for vacuum cleaner problems
1. Repair or replace cord
2. Replace switch
3. Replace the filter or clean it
4. Replace plug
5. Clear blockage
(source: RepairMonitor.org)

Carbon brushes
If the vacuum cleaner is really broken, it’s often the carbon brush that needs to be replaced. This essential component supplies the motor with current. Repair Café Zaandijk has a lot of these in stock. This part is easy to replace and is available via, for example, eBay. You can get help with this at the Repair Café.

When a vacuum cleaner can no longer be repaired, it’s usually due to the engine. In the RepairMonitor it was repeatedly reported that the motor had burnt out. In other cases, non-reparability was caused by parts that were non-replaceable, unavailable or too expensive.

Buttons, plugs and cords
On the other hand, on/off buttons and plug-in knobs are easy to order and replace for many brands and models. Plugs and cables are also relatively easy to repair or replace. Vacuum cleaner parts are easily available via websites such as eVacuumStore.com.

Uncertain about installing it? Volunteer repairers are willing and able to help at all Repair Cafés.

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