Changing a Vacuum Belt

Changing a vacuum belt is a lot easier than you may think. What’s more is that, aside from replacing your bags frequently, it’s the single most important thing you can do to keep your vacuum cleaner running efficiently.

The vacuum belt is a like a giant heavy duty rubber band, much like a fan belt on your car’s engine. Because it’s rubber, it will stretch due to wear and tear and the heat from the constant high speed spinning. Within the course of 3 months, depending on your use, the vacuum belt will need replacing.

One end of the belt connects to the drive shaft which is driven by the vacuum’s motor.  This creates the spinning motion.  The other end of the belt connects to the agitator (aka roller brush, brush roller, beater bar).  The agitator is what lifts the deep down dirt from the carpet or rug, into the suction path of the vacuum. If the belt is stretched or worn, it doesn’t rotate the agitator at the same speed as the drive shaft and you end up with an inefficient vacuum.  (That is why you often have to pass over the same spot on your carpet several times.)

Belts are fairly inexpensive.  Depending on the model, they will average about $5. If you know the make and model of your vacuum, you can purchase the belt before disassembling the vacuum. If not, proceed with removing the belt per the instructions below, then take the old belt to your vacuum or hardware store and get an exact replica. 

The only tool needed will be either a flat head or Philips screwdriver. To change the belt, first turn off the vacuum. Then turn it over. You’ll see that the bottom of the vacuum has a cover on it, which is usually held in place by some type of retaining clip or screws. Usually a flat head screwdriver is all you need to release the retaining clip. If your vacuum has screws, you might need the Philips head screwdriver. Once you remove the cover, the vacuum belt will be exposed. Study how the belt attaches at either end to the drive shaft and the agitator, so you can repeat this procedure with the new belt.

First you’ll want to slip the belt off of the agitator.  It will usually be slipped on some type of indented collar (much like a pulley).  Once the belt has been slipped off, the other end attached to the drive shaft will come off easily. 

Next, remove the agitator. This is usually a simple process—once again, the flat head screwdriver can help you gently pry the agitator from its slot. This is a good time to remove any tangled hair and fibers from the ends of the agitator brush, to allow it to spin freely.

Take the new belt and affix it to the drive shaft. Slip the other end onto the agitator in the same fashion that the old belt was attached.  Replace the agitator into its slot, making sure the belt is taut. Turn the agitator by hand to make sure the belt has seated properly. Replace the cover and you should be good to go.