Too frustrated at my vacuum to supply clever title.
December 12, 2010 2:37 PM   Subscribe

I bought a Hoover Widepath Tempo vacuum. Then I got a black labrador. Then I moved into an apartment with wall to wall carpeting. Help.

I realize that many vacuums cannot handle pet hair well, but I'm willing to fuss with this one if it means it'll work better. Thing is, I just replaced the bag, cleaned out the house, and even unscrewed the bottom take out the brush and clean it off. I'm still having a hard time doing anything with it; it leaves black, labrador hair tracks in the floor, especially when I pull back rather than push it forward.

Any ideas for other ways to fiddle with this thing and make it do its job?
posted by HeroZero to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Did you try adjusting the carpet height? If you lower it, the brush will be closer to the carpet, so it should work better. According to this diagram it should be at the front of the vacuum (#10).
posted by asras at 3:04 PM on December 12, 2010

I get the best results from my vacuum if I raise it to where it just grazes the top of the carpet. I've found that if it's too low it will push stuff into the carpet.
posted by rhizome at 3:27 PM on December 12, 2010

Is it possible the belt has snapped and needs to be replaced? If the beater-bar isn't turning, it's not going to remove hair very effectively.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:28 PM on December 12, 2010

There may be a supplemental fiber pre-filter in the bag compartment, to protect the motor from gross clogging in the event of bag failure, overfill, or improper bag replacement. This is likely to be a 2 or 3 inch square of dacron fiber material, about 1/8" thick, in one of the bottom corners of your bag compartment; if this pre-filter has been plugged by dirt, your airflow will be cut dramatically, and what exhaust airflow you are getting from the motor will be pretty hot (after a couple minutes running), as the motor depends on proper airflow through the machine as its primary cooling. Obviously, overheating is really bad for the motor, as well as making the vacuum ineffective overall, so you should clean this filter by washing in warm water (maybe with a little bit of dish detergent) every time you change the bag. You don't need to change the bag again to find this filter, although it is easier to see and clean with the bag out. This filter is not usually held in place by anything other than the vacuum developed by the motor, and a little plastic lip at the edge - just pinch it to remove it, and after cleaning, just lay it back getting the edges under any of the little plastic edge lips that seem obvious. Don't run the machine without this pre-filter, as if you do have a bag overflow, you'll quickly plug your motor fan, and burn up the motor, perhaps in dramatic fashion!

Additionally, your machine may have a somewhat more obvious post-bag filter on a side exhaust exit of the bag compartment. This may be either a washable piece of foam, or a replaceable paper HEPA filter. If you use HEPA type filtering bags, and change them before they get completely packed full, this filter will last a lot longer between changes or cleanings. As with the pre-filter, if the post filter is present and clogged, it will also restrict air flow through the motor, raising the temperature of the motor too. If you need a new paper filter, but don't have one, you can safely run without this filter temporarily - the air flow through this filter is just from the bag compartment to room air, and all that will happen if it is not there is that you'll be getting slightly more dust sent back into your room. In general, air flow and air flow temperature are in inverse relationship to each other, and feeling for very warm air is a good indication you may still have air flow restrictions if you don't remember what proper airflow felt like when the machine was new.

Also, +1 on needs more cowbell's comment about the beater bar drive. Not only should the beater bar brushes be clean, and the bar free to turn, but the rapid turning of the beater bar helps develop air flow (vacuum) in an upright or powered wand canister vac. So, you don't want to set the carpet height adjustment too low, since this will slow the brush rotation a lot, as well as increase load on your machine's motor and drive belt; better the height adjustment is a little high than way too low. If your beater (or roller brush, as it is sometimes called) isn't doing its job properly, you can lose as much as 50% of your air flow. So invert the vac, and using a scissors or a knife and maybe some tongs or pliers and you fingers, unwind any strings, hair, or fibers you find there, as you rotate the brush, until the brush turns freely. You can turn the brush in both directions, without harming the vacuum, while cleaning it, and turning it backwards from its normal direction of rotation can help with unwinding long fiber strands. If the belt is loose or broken, and brush doesn't run fast, with good power when you turn the unit on, you may need to replace the brush drive belt, located under a plastic cover on one end of the roller.
posted by paulsc at 5:19 AM on December 13, 2010

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