What to do if Your Vacuum Cleaner is Smoking

a vacuum cleaner on a wooden floor

Everybody knows that vacuum cleaners are an integral tool in any home. They have become one of those modern appliances we’d have a hard time living without. Everybody’s home gets dirty, whether it just be from constant foot traffic, pets, or dirty children, but if your vacuum starts smoking you need to know how to decide what’s wrong and how to fix it. This informative guide will show you the most common reasons a vacuum smokes, how to address the issue, and how to prevent it from happening in the future.

Prevention is Key

Things like hair, dust, and string tend to get caught in the beater bar — the spinning part on the bottom — of the vacuum, clogging it and making it run more slowly and with less power than it should. Every second or third time you use your vacuum you should flip the vacuum over to check the beater bar. Make sure it can move freely because this is one of the underlying factors that causes a smoking vacuum. Another prevention tip is to make sure you clean or replace any filters on your vacuum regularly. Check with the manufacturer or consult your owner’s manual for the recommended frequency. A clogged filter can cause a lagging vacuum and the lack of airflow can cause big problems.

The Belt is the Prime Suspect

When stress to the motor is present the motor heats up and usually burns the belt, causing smoke. The belt is the most common issue so begin your investigation there. Look for stretching, cracks, burn marks, and missing chunks.

Since every vacuum cleaner is different, there’s no definitive guide on changing the belt but we can give you an overview of how to do it on the typical vacuum. Keep replacement belts with your cleaning supplies. Purchase them according to the model number of your vacuum. Replacement belts can be purchased singly or in packs with multiple belts.

Once you have the sweeper belt, flip your vacuum over and either unscrew the bottom plate or pop it off, whichever you need to do for your specific vacuum. From here you should be able to see the problem belt. While the cover is off, take this time to clean the inside. After everything is clean look at the belt and take note of how it’s attached. There are usually two shafts that hold it in place. The easiest way to get a burned belt off is to cut it off with scissors. Replace the old belt by stretching it as necessary to get it to fit over the shafts. It should fit very tightly and sometimes needs a bit of persuasion to push it into place. Spin the beater bar to make sure the belt is secure before replacing the bottom plate. Your vacuum should no longer smoke.

If the belt was not the problem, then you may have a problem with the motor. If the vacuum motor is the problem, contact a professional repair person or purchase a new vacuum.