How to Choose a Vacuum Cleaner

July 27, 2015

How to choose a vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaner options seem endless. These steps will help you decide which vacuum cleaner is right for you and your cleaning needs.

How to Choose a Vacuum Cleaner

1. Types of models

There are two basic types of portable vacuum cleaners: upright and canister/tank.

  • Uprights are designed primarily for deep cleaning carpets, and no other style does this job better. But uprights do a less-satisfactory job on uncarpeted floors and may scratch wood floors if used carelessly.
  • Canister/tank vacuums, on the other hand, because of their attachments, are well suited to cleaning households with a variety of floors and floor coverings. Look for models that include a powerhead attachment, which offers agitator action for cleaning carpet.

Another type, the central vacuum, is not portable but is actually built into the house. It consists of a powerful collection unit in the basement, attic or utility room; vacuum tubing that snakes through the walls; and outlets in all the principal rooms.

Also described as vacuum cleaners are several special-purpose machines. The "electric broom" or "stick broom" — a mini-upright without a brush roller — and the even smaller hand vacuum are two types best reserved for small jobs.

The wet/dry or shop vacuum is, by contrast, often quite powerful and is best used in really dirty or wet situations. Shoppers will find the differences in similar-style machines often subtle, and manufacturers' claims confusing. For example, higher motor amperage does not necessarily mean the machine is more effective. Nor is the presence of a high-efficiency filter necessarily an advantage — if not designed properly, it can actually reduce a machine's effectiveness.

Features that should affect choice are:

  • kinds of attachments included, weight of the machine, length of the cord, ease of controls and ease of changing the dirt-gathering bag and drive belt.
  • Consult the latest consumer buying guides in selecting a machine that fits your needs and budget.
  • Or deal with experienced and reputable dealers who can back up their recommendation.

Listed below are more specifics on the different models of vacuum cleaners available in today's market.

2. Canister/tank

A motor-driven fan sucks air through the hose, creating an airstream that carries picked-up dirt to its destination in the bag. An excellent multipurpose tool for a mix of wood floors, rugs and above-floor tasks. The best include a power nozzle accessory plus specialty attachments.

3. Upright

A more powerful vacuum mechanism together with a revolving brush agitator offers superior deep cleaning of large carpeted areas.

  • Adjusts to different carpet piles.
  • Often includes an array of attachments for above-floor cleaning.
  • An upright can be awkward in tight spaces.

4. Central system

With the motor and dirt collector located in a utility room or basement, the central vacuum is quiet, convenient (you carry only the hose and accessories) and easy (it needs emptying less often than other vacuums). The principal drawback is its initial installation cost.

5. Wet/dry

Though often described as an all-purpose vacuum, this heavy-duty machine works best in high-soil areas such as basements, workshops and garages. The unit is designed to suck up wet dirt, including spills. Also good around remodelling and construction sites.

6. Vacuum cleaner attachments

  1. Rug-cleaning tool. Use on low-pile or worn carpets. Use one that swivels to reach underneath low-slung furniture.
  2. Bare-floor brush. For wood floors and decks, tile and stone. Replace when bristles become worn.
  3. Upholstery tool. Cleans upholstered furniture, draperies, mattresses, auto interiors, carpeted stairs and fabric-covered walls
  4. Dusting brush. Use to clean furniture, light fixtures, blinds and shutters. Cover with soft cloth for delicate surfaces.
  5. Crevice tool. For radiator fins, carpet edges, upholstery crevices, refrigerator grilles, registers and baseboards
  6. Power nozzle. Motorized brush for carpets and sturdy rugs. Brush should extend to both edges of the power roller.

These tips will help you make an educated decision when purchasing a new vacuum.

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