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Your vacuum cleaner's drive belt helps operate the machine's rotating brush, which dislodges dirt and dust. When it wears out, the vacuum will still operate -- it just won't do its job. Here's how to fix that.

Picture this: you're suctioning up dust and dog hair when all of a sudden your vacuum cleaner makes a loud noise and stops working or ceases to pick anything as it runs. Most of the time the culprit is a broken vacuum cleaner drive belt, which is a fairly easy (albeit dirty) problem to repair.

Contrary to its name, a vacuum cleaner doesn't actually create a true vacuum; instead, it removes dirt from your floors using reduced air pressure in an enclosed chamber (the air pressure outside is greater than that inside). This pressure differential sucks the air outside into the vacuum chamber, picking up dirt along with it. It has a spinning brush in the nose that grabs extra debris as you push it around, sucking it up into the bag or canister. The drive belt keeps the brush spinning.

When the belt breaks, the brush stops spinning. And the dirt stops moving; it just stays put.

Check for an Obstruction
If your vacuum is still running, your problem may not be a broken part at all -- it could simply be a clog. Follow these steps to check for an obstruction before moving on to the belt.

1. First, if the vacuum still runs, place your hand over the suction area to see if it is actually drawing in any air. If not or there is very little suction, there might be an obstruction of some sort.

2. Unplug the vacuum and inspect the hose, tubes and cleaning tools to locate the obstruction. Dust, dirt and other debris -- even objects like pet toys and crayons -- can collect just about anywhere, causing a blockage.

3. Remove parts one at a time to locate and remove the obstruction(s). You can use something long like a broom handle to push clumps of dirt out of the hose area.

4. Reassemble the parts and remember to clean your vacuum periodically to reduce the chance of future clogs.

Replace the Drive Belt
Whether you've had your vacuum one year or 15 years, you're bound to have to replace the drive belt at least once in your vacuum cleaner's lifetime. Here's how.

1. Go to your local hardware or home improvement store and purchase the correct model of vacuum belt based on the make and model of your vacuum. (Don't forget to write down the appliance's make and model before you head to the store.)

2. Unplug the vacuum from the electrical outlet.

3. Flip it over so that you can see the vacuum's agitator brush.

4. Using a screwdriver, unscrew the bottom plate that covers the brush.

5. Remove the brush by lifting the ends out of the base. Remove any debris that is inside or wrapped around the parts.

6. The drive belt is usually wrapped one end over the brush and the other end around the motor drive shaft. Carefully remove the belt from both parts.

7. To install the new belt, slide one end over the brush and the other over the drive shaft and put the parts back in place. The new belt might feel tighter and you may have to pull a little bit on it to get it in place. The old one was looser because it had been stretched out over time.

8. Screw the bottom plate back on and you're done!

Don't forget to perform simple vacuum cleaner maintenance on a regular basis.

  • sparks

    If the vacuum still runs place your hand over the suction area, if there is very little suction remove your fingers from in between the beater bar and the guard, clean up the blood as well as you can, and take your vacuum to a repairman.

  • nelson collazo

    could not have said it better myself...basic, basic, basic

  • sparks

    one thing worse than obvious advice, and that is stupid advice! keep your hands away from the suction area of a vacuum! the beater bar can and will try to take your fingers off when it catches them between it and the guard! cripes! who writes these things?

  • paul

    if you have to go to this much trouble you might as well buy a vacume cleaner at walmart for less than $60,00

  • Rick

    LOL! Loved the Obama comment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nancy O

    Well, some of us DID vote for Obama (a LOT of us, in fact) and I think the simplicity and specificity of the directions is great. If I already knew how to do it, I wouldn't need instructions!


  • swamprat


  • eri5426301

    place the nozzle under your chin in the neck area it it makes a red mark it works now explain the red mark , to your wife or husband

  • Paul

    President obama would never do this,, leave that to president bush to get his fingers cut off, lol poor cowboy

  • sunstpools

    I like the unplug your vacuum statement, are you kidding me

  • Jami

    Thank you for this great article. I sell appliances and it's fun for me. Another tip I tell people is to get a lable maker or sharpie and mark your vacuum bag model on the vacuum somewhere.

    PS Remove your oven racks before starting self clean or they will warp, change color and be hard to remove. Date everything in your freezer.

  • 11 Comments / 1 Pages

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