How often do you replace your vacuum cleaner?
April 15, 2015 7:12 PM   Subscribe

It's pretty simple, really: how often do you replace your vacuum cleaner?

Some details that I hope won't derail the question above:

I have a Bissell (Cleanview II bagless from Target) that's ten years old, and while it still seems to be functioning, it's lost a lot of its suction. I am using it less frequently as well, as it's a pain in the ass to clean and seems to require more frequently cleaning/emptying of the clear cylinder and filters that collect the dirt.

I dislike buying another vacuum cleaner unnecessarily, but I recall it used to be much more powerful and require less frequent cleaning. I have no sense of the lifespan of vacuum cleaners, nor when it may be considered reasonable to replace it.

[Note: I'm not looking for specific recs at this time - just a check-in with others on what is a reasonable amount of time before you replace your vacuum. Thanks!]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome to Shopping (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: When it breaks.

But in best Relationship AskMe fashion, after ten years you have permission to declare your vacuum broken and buy a new one.
posted by holgate at 7:14 PM on April 15, 2015 [20 favorites]

Best answer: When it breaks irreparably. But ten years is a good run for a modern appliance.

Side note: my parents ~8 year old Bissell upright had become noticeably less powerful, my dad replaced the belt and it works like new. It was less then $5 and an hour of time.

Have you tried replacing (not just cleaning) all the filters on yours?
posted by token-ring at 7:27 PM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I've never had a vacuum cleaner that's lasted more than 2-3 years (except my current Dyson, which for the price, damn well better).

You have done extremely well to get 10 years out of any vacuum cleaner that wasn't manufactured back in the halcyon days of last century, when people kept their wedding toasters for 2 decades because Shit Was Made to Last.

Buy a new vacuum. :)
posted by Salamander at 7:27 PM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I replace them when it feels like they're losing suction, and changing the filter doesn't fix the problem. I've had a couple last for four or five years, and one that lasted for about two years before my former husband killed it. (If you have washable filters, you can't use the vacuum while the filters are wet what is wrong with you.)

I buy cheap vacuums, though.
posted by MeghanC at 7:27 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ten years is a good run. It depends on how big a place you are cleaning, how often you clean, whether you have kids or pets, etc. My Montgomery Ward canister vacuum cleaner finally bit the dust (ha!) a couple of weeks ago after at least twenty years of service, but I'm a single person in an apartment without pets or kids, which puts me on the low end of the vacuum cleaning frequency scale. I've had my Sunbeam toaster since 1983!
posted by plastic_animals at 7:36 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Never. Not since we switched from bagless uprights to a second-hand canister bagged vacuum that is older than I am.

I know you say you don't want recommendations, but my husband used to repair vacuums professionally and there is a huge difference in quality between a bagless vacuum you buy from target or Sears (or woot, if you're buying a Dyson) and higher quality vacuums like miele and Electrolux. This goes double for older models, which were made to be repaired. If you can snag a working c-type canister on Craig's list, I'd highly recommend it. They are built to last forever if well maintained.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:01 PM on April 15, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: More to the point: ten years is a good run for a bagless. In my grad school days, I ignored my husbands advice and ended up buying two uprights in five years, but we have a cat. Bagless vacuums mean that debris gets in the parts, which means the loss of suction you describe.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:04 PM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My parents' vacuum is from the 1940s (my father is good at repairing things), and mine is from the 1970s. Both are Electrolux canister vacuums.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:08 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hell yes I came here to brag on the legacy Electrolux that I inherited. I played with it as a baby. It requires some periodic maintenance.

I wish I could buy a Dyson made of aluminum. It might last as long. Sadly, every Dyson I've seen has been quite repair-able until some plastic dingus snaps off.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 8:14 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a vacuum cleaner I bought when I first moved out 20 years ago. It still works but I got ensorcelled by the roombas about 5 years ago. Now that I'm in a two storey place I have given myself permission to have a bissell upright too (roomba lives upstairs) and the 20 year old thing has been relegated to more gross jobs (cat related, mostly).

It's probably going to silicon heaven soon, the suction which I would've described as 'not great' has been down graded to 'totally crap' since I got the bissell air ram. Maybe if I actually cleaned the filter, it would be better. Once I stopped using it for proper cleaning and just for kibble & kitty litter pickup duty, I got super lazy about cleaning the filter.

I'm impressed though, it was the cheapest thing I could get when I bought it in 1995. They must've made applicances better back in the olden days.
posted by kitten magic at 8:39 PM on April 15, 2015

Best answer: Ten years is a very good run for a cheaper bagless (no shot on your vacuum... glad it worked well for you that long).

Something that's more heavy duty and built a little better can definitely last much longer, though.
posted by Old Man McKay at 8:58 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ten years is a good run. I still have my Dyson and just bought a used Miele. I am pretty sure that I will not be getting another vacuum for at least 5 more years.
posted by jadepearl at 9:00 PM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I clean the filters a couple of times, then replace them. A new Bissel bagless will set you back $75 at Costco, not like buying a flying car.
posted by Oyéah at 9:25 PM on April 15, 2015

Best answer: I bought my vacuum cleaner at a thrift store about fifteen years ago. It looks like it was built about 1960. All-metal construction, latches, everything, except of course the hose. Nothing has ever broken and probably will not, in my lifetime. Simple small cannister design. They discontinued the bag-type before I even bought it, but I've done fine by getting the closest type and trimming the cardboard thingy with scissors. It works great: as well, I'm sure, as when it was new.

Judging from the way vacuums are marketed -with all that miracle woo and magical gadget stuff- it looks like most people don't understand how they work. They really are just a fan in a case that blows air out, and filters the air that goes in. I guess for a marketer it must be like selling soap or gasoline: they're really all the same so you have to invent something to make yours look better. There's a reason shopvacs are labeled on the outside with the power of the motor("fan"): the people who use those are more mechanically minded and understand that's the main thing that makes a difference. Okay, I'll grant you that ones with a belt-and-brushes will be more persnickety no matter when they were built.

This is not to say that you should purchase a shopvac or an antique, but just to offer one perspective. With thanks for the opportunity to grind my small vacuum-axe, yet resisting the urge to rant about plastic construction in general, I remain your humble counselor.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 9:59 PM on April 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Less metal and more plastic means modern appliances don't generally last as long as they did.
Our inherited canister vac (Miele) lasted 25 years, our new vac (LG) began having issues (in the broken plastic holding the electronics in the handle) after 1 year. I fixed that, but I doubt this thing will last 5 more years.

Btw, there may be some less visible clogged filter that's causing the blockage in yours. It doesn't sound like it's 'broken'.
posted by artdrectr at 10:09 PM on April 15, 2015

'ensorcelled by the roombas'
posted by artdrectr at 10:13 PM on April 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I would call a vacuum repair place and ask how much to service it with the goal of improving suction. If it's more than what you'd pay for a new vacuum, move on.
posted by cecic at 11:15 PM on April 15, 2015

Best answer: I have a backpack professional vac that was old when I met and married its owner 20 years ago. It still works very well (when I can be bothered to use it) with the main down-side being that it sounds like you have a jet engine strapped to your back. But a pair of ear-plugs sort that out and I find the freedom of not dragging a damn canister around is well worth it, not to mention being able to go from under to the sofa to clearing a cobweb off the ceiling with no real effort. Try doing that with an upright or a Roomba!


Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that there's no standard lifespan for vacuum cleaners, really. If it's not doing its job, replace it with a clear conscience.
posted by ninazer0 at 11:30 PM on April 15, 2015

Best answer: I've gone through several vacuum cleaners but when I finally took cleaning the filters and replacing them seriously I found the machine lasted a lot longer. The one I have now is a cheap Eureka. I use canned air to blast out the filter every few weeks - works better than washing the filter, I think - and replace it a couple of times a year for approximately $10. I de-string the roller at the same time I blast the filter clean and I empty the dirt container every time I use it. It has excellent suction and in a house full of bird seed and feathers, that's a good thing. I did have a belt break on another vacuum years ago but it was easy to replace, and my son fried a couple of vacuums by continuing to use them even when they were so jammed and full they smelled like they were on fire - but overall I think a vacuum can last quite a long time. Still, a nice new Dyson would be lovely ...
posted by aryma at 11:50 PM on April 15, 2015

Best answer: Hell yes I came here to brag on the legacy Electrolux that I inherited. I played with it as a baby. It requires some periodic maintenance.

["Nothing sucks like an Electrolux" as we really did used to say in the UK]

In terms of the performance of the machine: If it actually starts and works somewhat then this checklist of steps - many already mentioned - should get it running normally. If something is broken then try googling to find suppliers of spares. It is only the fact that you mention you find the device a pain to clean that makes me think you should consider changing it.
posted by rongorongo at 3:23 AM on April 16, 2015

Best answer: Echoing the chorus of let it go and get and older vacuum. To that end, you might try a vacuum repair shop - if you can find one. Mine has older refurbished ones for sale, plus then, you know where to go to get it fixed if it should break/lose suction.
posted by sarajane at 6:17 AM on April 16, 2015

My first grownup purchase when I moved to NYC in the early 90s was a Eureka Mighty Mite II canister vacuum. Couldn't have spent more than forty bucks. Once I dropped it down some stairs and it shot sparks out the back for a while but somehow healed itself. Then one of my kids broke a wheel and I had to replace that. I've changed out motor filters now and then. Oh yeah, and I replaced the carpet nozzle and lost the crevice attachment. Most recently I disassembled it completely to remove a frayed section of power cord. How much time and money have I spent to keep it going? Dunno. But IT IS GOING TO LIVE FOREVER.
posted by bassomatic at 7:17 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay there seems to be a consensus here. Thanks for all your answers, I'm one of those mark-most-of-'em people.

posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:56 AM on April 16, 2015

Response by poster: Update: I ended up buying a Panasonic MC-CG917 "OptiFlow" Bag Canister Vacuum Cleaner (Amazon link) for about 200 bucks; I was looking at a Miele canister but went with the budget-friendly Panasonic. I LOVE IT.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 1:04 PM on September 26, 2015

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