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Helpful Tips

Tips from Al and Karen to keep your machine operating safely and efficiently during its lifetime.
NOTE: Always turn your cleaner off and disconnect it from the electrical outlet before beginning any maintenance work.


Bag issues are one of the most common problems our customers experience. Changing the vacuum bag properly and often is critical for proper maintenance.

Plan to change the vacuum bag monthly, more often if you have children or pets. Also, be sure to have the proper bag for your machine.

Prior to installing the bag, open the pleated filter paper and make sure the bag is properly positioned so that it seals with the connecting tube, allowing the free flow of dirt into the bag.

Did you know fine dust and debris will clog your bag much faster than ordinary dust and dirt? If your cleaning frequently encounters this type of debris, be sure to change your vacuum bag frequently.

You can find higher quality, disposable bags best suited for filtering fine dust, pollen and dust mites, at Al's Vacuum. We carry products to fit most brands.

Changing Belts

Most vacuum belts should be changed at least once a year.  

Belts, made of a rubber composition, will stretch and wear out from normal operation. They also lose effectiveness and elasticity from age and heat.   Remember - the tighter or newer the belt, the better your vacuum will perform.

Smell burnt rubber or a burning smell? If an accidental jam or improper height adjustment momentarily causes the revolving brush to stop, a burn spot or a heat blister in the belt may result, causing a burnt rubber odor. In these instances, the belt is most often rendered irreversibly damaged and should be replaced immediately.

Note: Belts should be stored out of direct sunlight.

Al's extensive belt inventory can satisfy almost any belt need.

Vacuum filters have improved considerably over the years, now having a great capacity to catch and remove fine particles most efficiently.

Most manufacturers recommend replacing filters every six month, or at least annually. Problems can occur when overused or clogged filters cause the vacuum motor to overheat. This not only shortens the motor life but causes a loss of suction. In some cases, total motor burn out can occur.

Don't let this happen to you. Check filters often and write the recommended replacement date on the filter to remind yourself.

Al's carries a large selection of filters for most makes and models. Plus, we can often retrofit older model vacuums with newer, more effective, efficient filters to improve performance. Bring in your old filter so we can match it – or write down your make and model number for accurate replacement. If you've purchased a vacuum here in the past – our computers will have this information already on file and accessible for you.
Vacuum doesn't run or turns off

Many of the newer model vacuums are protected by a thermal overload system. Therefore, if the machine's motor temperature rises significantly, (often caused by a clogged or overfilled bag) the overload protector is triggered, automatically stopping the machine. At this point, your machine's system must be re-set, plus you must correct the issue that triggered the overload protection to be activated.  

To reset the system - read the step-by-step instructions in your manual. If you can not locate or correct the instigating problem, bring your vacuum to Al's for a no cost estimate.


If your machine suddenly loses suction when the motor is still running, often the problem is a clog.

First, look at the "pick-up tube" on the vacuum's bottom plate. After unplugging the machine (to prevent injury from the revolving brush) remove the obstruction. If the obstruction is not at the opening, look further up the pick-up hose. Often a coat hanger is a handy tool to use in removing hose obstructions.

If you can't find the problem, bring your machine to Al's for evaluation as soon as possible. Running a clogged machine often causes overheating, creating further problems and costly repairs.

Revolving Brushes

Most upright and canister vacuums have revolving brushes that are continually being exposed to dirt and debris. The most damaging debris is long thread and human hair. Both hair and thread have a natural tendency to be pulled into the moving parts which results in friction and causes the brush to jam. In some cases the friction caused by hair creates enough heat to actually melt the moving parts, causing the need for expensive repairs.

The best way to prevent this problem is to regularly check for it and if found, cut it off the brush before it has a chance to get pulled into the machine's moving parts.

What else might alert you to a problem – a roller that feels tight or doesn't spin freely. When this is the case, it might be necessary to take the machine apart, cleaning it to remove the accumulated hair or thread problem.

General Vacuuming

Routine vacuuming can be the most important step for prolonging the life and appearance of your carpet and wood floors.  

For carpet – when soiled carpet is walked on, the dirt particles are deposited deep into the carpet fibers, causing matting and soil damage. For wood floors – small stones, mud and gritty dirt tracked from outside can destroy the floor's finish. Frequent vacuuming can help prevent these problems.  

For carpet – make sure your vacuum is at the correct height setting for each type of carpet. Also, occasionally changing the direction your machine is passing can help prevent carpet matting. For wood floors – be sure to use a soft bristle brush attachment. See Al's for their large selection of natural bristle brushes for your wood floor.