When It Doesn't Suck: Should You Repair Or Replace Your Vacuum Cleaner?

In the United States, 26.1 million vacuum cleaners are sold each year. As with many consumer appliances, there's some debate over whether it's more cost effective to repair them or replace them when they start to show signs of wear or break down completely.

A lot of consumers -- you might have been one of them in the past -- may just choose to toss the old one in the trash and pay for something new. But you wonder, could this be fixed?

When to Repair

The rule of thumb is that you should not spend more than 50 percent of the cost of a new item on repairs for your existing one. That holds true with vacuum cleaners as well.

But how do you know what a repair will cost? Look for a shop that will provide a free repair estimate. Many of these stores also sell new and refurbished vacuums, so they can help you decide whether it makes more sense to repair. Visit or call around to independent repair shops in your area rather than locating the official dealer repair. You're more likely to get an honest response. Plus, in a survey of appliance owners, Consumer Reports found that people have a higher rate of satisfaction with an independent repair center.

Repairing can save your old machine from going to the landfill, and it is recommended if your vacuum model is a newer one.

When to Replace

If your machine is more than 5 years old, or lacks features in newer machines that you would use, it's best to just replace the vacuum.

You should also replace if you dislike the vacuum for any reason or if it is very heavy. Older vacuums tend to be more difficult to push back and forth.

Could You Do It Yourself?

There are a few easy fixes for broken down vacuums. If one of these issues is impacting your vacuum, you may be able to repair yourself -- or at least, the repairs shouldn't cost too much at your local repair center.

  • Vacuum bag. Believe it or not, one of the most common problems for a vacuum is a full bag. If your model uses bags, you should replace it whenever the machine stops working effectively. Debris that can't get into the too-full bag can clog hoses.
  • Beater bar. This round roller has an offset row of brush fibers which can get things caught in them or wear down. The roller itself can also get damaged. Cut any hairs or threads wrapped around the bar with scissors and work out any other debris.
  • Drive belt. This runs the beater bar, but it can become loose or frayed, or break entirely. Check yours once a month to make sure it's in top working order.

Anything that involves the fan or the motor should be looked at by a professional like one from Vacuum of Jacksonville, unless you have a background in appliance repair.