Help! My Vacuum Is Spitting Everything Out

woman with broken vacuum spitting out dust
  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate

Vacuum cleaners are fairly simple machines that rely upon the flow of air through filters and a bag to clean floors. If they start spitting stuff out, it means that the air flow has been reversed or it is not there at all. However, not all vacuum cleaners have bags, yet they all have this same problem.

Before you run out and buy a new vacuum - they can get quite expensive - take a look at these diagnostic questions to determine if your vacuum is a DIY project in waiting.

Is the Machine Truly Blowing?

To be spitting everything out, the vacuum cleaner has to be blowing air when it should be sucking in air. If the electric motor that drives the vacuum cleaner is wired for a particular polarity, it makes a difference which way it was plugged in to the mains. Just in case this unlikely situation is the cause, unplug the vacuum and reverse the plug and plug it in again. If the vacuum works properly, there is a problem with the way the electric motor is installed, and it needs to be remedied by an electrician.

The only other way the machine can be blowing out air instead of sucking air in is if the drive belt from the electric motor to the fan has been twisted. A single twist would cause the fan to be driven in reverse. Removing the fan belt and straightening it out will solve the problem.

Did You Remember the Bag?

If you forget to fit the bag or fail to fit it properly, the dirty air being drawn into the vacuum cleaner will be passing straight through the machine and leaving to release back into the free-flowing indoor air, carrying all the dirt with it. Fitting the bag properly should solve that problem. The same situation will arise if the bag is seriously damaged and is not capable of trapping the debris.

Is the Bag Ripped?

Although the filters should deal with it, a torn vacuum cleaner bag will also allow the dirt and dust to simply blow through the machine.

For Upright Cleaners

If an upright cleaner is spitting everything out, it means that the brush roller is ejecting everything. There are two ways this can happen. If there is a blockage in the short stretch between the brush roller and the body of the machine, there will be no stream of air to drive the dirt into the bag. The dirt will fall back onto the brush roller and out the front of the machine.

The other way is if there is a twist in the drive belt of the brush roller. A single twist in the brush roller drive belt will spin it in reverse so that it will eject the dirt from the front of the vacuum.

For Cylinder Cleaners

Older cylinder cleaners are unique in that they have hoses that can be connected to either end of the machine. This means that the owner has the option to select ‘suck’ or ‘blow’. Connecting the vacuum hose to the wrong end will give the impression that the machine is ‘spitting everything out’.

For Combination Machines

Some combination machines can be used for spraying. They have a special option to switch the machine from sucking to blowing in order to use paint sprayers or water sprayers powered by the vacuum cleaner motor. If yours is such a machine, check that you have it set to ‘suck’ rather than to ‘blow’.

Vacuum Is Spitting Everything Out FAQ

How do you fix a vacuum that isn't suctioning?

A vacuum that isn't suctioning could be having any number of problems. There could be a clog in a filter, which is one common reason why this happens.

There could also be a clog in a hose or some other blockage that is preventing the vacuum from suctioning. A tear in a hose can cause the suction to fail as well.

If the vacuum is not suctioning but spitting out, check to see if the bag needs to be changed or the debris tank needs to be emptied.

How do you unclog the inside of a vacuum?

Before unclogging the vacuum, unplug it so it is not receiving power. Turn the vacuum over to access the bottom.

Pull the clog out with your hand. If that doesn't work, use a screwdriver to loosen the clog and push at it so you can remove it.

How do I know if my vacuum belt is broken?

The vacuum cleaner has one or more belts that keep everything rotating and functioning. If a belt breaks, you will notice symptoms.

You may smell burning rubber or notice that the brusher is not moving if a belt has broken. Suction may stop as well.

What happens when a vacuum filter is clogged?

When vacuum filters get clogged, the vacuum will have less suction power and the performance will be greatly compromised.

What are the symptoms of a loose belt?

If you hear your vacuum squeaking or it’s making a high-pitched noise, you may have a loose belt. If the vacuum is loose or moving abnormally, this can be another indication of a loose belt.