My carpet stuffed up my vacuum!
May 22, 2010 4:56 AM   Subscribe

How do I clean out a vacuum hose that has been blocked by light carpet fibers left over from carpet installation?

I have a Bissell Powerforce vacuum cleaner that is having a hell of a time with the carpet at the apartment we have lived in for several months now. It turns out that the carpet is brand new, and whoever installed it prior to us renting this place apparently did not do a good job of vacuuming up the loose carpet fiber after laying it down, if they even used a vacuum at all.

So now, whenever I try to vacuum the carpet, I have to watch out for blockages. Unfortunately I forgot about this and after a good vacuuming, both the hose to the carpet attachment and the internal hose are completely blocked by soft yet compacted carpet fibers. Now these aren't the threads that you might pull out of a carpet, they are the individual fibers that are woven together to form each strand. Almost like thousands of tiny hairs blocking my hose.

So using a bent clothes hanger has been useless. I have been unable to pull out more than a few inches of the stuff, and that only because it was close enough to manipulate easily. Otherwise I can't get a hold of the fibers enough to pull them out. On the other hand, nothing I've been able to push in is large or strong enough to push the fibers out the other end, as even though they have compacted they give easily and things I push in just seem to push into the fibers and then go nowhere. I tend to have a very hard time pushing anything in reliably because of the peaks and valleys along the hose (the ones that allow it to stretch/compress like an accordion).

So I'm at a loss as to how to proceed. Does anyone have any experience with this, or have any ideas on how I can get this crap out of the hose? (And, possibly, how to prevent it from accumulating again in the future)

posted by khelvan to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
I've used a broom handle before for this, but it depends on the length and compress-ability of the hose.
posted by A189Nut at 5:03 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you drop a dinner knife through without it getting stuck?
posted by tamitang at 5:10 AM on May 22, 2010

May not be the exactly same model depending on any revisions, but on mine there's two screws at the back holding the hose onto the body. I undo those, then rinse-out the hose, and finagle a way to hang it up to drain/dry. Haven't done it in a while but the kitchen sink worked fine. A garden or self-serve car-wash hose would be better.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:53 AM on May 22, 2010

In the UK you can get flexible coiled spring type thingies used to unclog sink drains, ask in a hardware store.
posted by epo at 6:54 AM on May 22, 2010

So, older vacuum cleaners generally had an air outlet, where all the nice hot air came out after the vacuum had sucked it in.

If you can attach the hose to this instead, you might be able to push the junk out the other end (do this somewhere outside or where you don't care about getting carpet bits everywhere). Regardless, I think after detaching the hose you'll either want to try to force it out with either air or water. Taking a regular hose to it may well help rinse out all of the crap.
posted by that girl at 6:56 AM on May 22, 2010

And double-check the bag. Bissel style 7. Yours should also have an indicator on the front that goes from green to red when the bag is full and stops sucking well. You probably know this already, but just a thought.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 7:07 AM on May 22, 2010

I've had success cleaning out a vacuum hose using a plumber's snake. In my case, the clog was caused by an extremely hairy and shedding dog, but it seems like the principle should be the same.
posted by DrGail at 7:48 AM on May 22, 2010

Last time that happened to us (after getting new carpeting), we ran hot water through the detached hose, then took it outside, whipping the hose around our heads (with the clogged section getting the swing). That rather entertaining act was sufficient to dislodge the clog just enough that another batch of hot water and lots of shaking got the clog out. Good luck!
posted by msali at 8:44 AM on May 22, 2010

You can push in a thick broom handle with a rag on the end. If it isn't long enough, push another one in, or do a series of small square wooden sticks, as long as they are fat enough to push each other and not overlap inside the hose.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:19 AM on May 22, 2010

How about one of those gizmos designed for cleaning out dryer vents?
posted by O9scar at 12:36 PM on May 22, 2010

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