Select a Vacuum

We believe that there is a proper cleaning device out there for everyone! If you're looking for an Orange County vacuum, we've provided advice below so you can make more informed decisions about choosing the machine that's right for you.

Selecting a Vacuum

Types of Vacuums
Selecting a Vacuum
Definitions
Which is Better: Bagged or Bagless
Unique Vacuum Issues

Types of Vacuums (top)

Upright Vacuum – If you were to give a 4 year old a carton of crayons and paper and ask him or her to draw a “vacuum cleaner” he or she would draw a picture that would resemble an upright vacuum. This is by far the most popular style in the U.S. These vacuums are pushed in front of the user and have a handle extending from the main body. Most have a spinning brush roll, and many have onboard tools for cleaning upholstery, stairs or hard to reach areas.

Canister Vacuum – This type of vacuum is usually identified with its long hose and separate motor and filtering unit, usually rectangular or oval shaped, and wheels that allow it to be pulled behind the user. Canister vacuums come with several types of nozzles. One type is a “straight suction,” usually a combination floor/rug tool. This type has no brush roll and is used primarily for hard style floors and/or throw rugs. Some canisters are fitted with a “turbo brush,” which is driven by the power and speed of the air moving through the nozzle much like the action of a windmill. No electric motor is present in these types of heads. Many canister vacuums are equipped with a “powerhead.” These heads are driven by a separate electric motor (separate from the motor inside the canister housing) and are used where thicker carpets are in place. Most “powerheads” have a switch that can be turned “off” so that hard floors can be cleaned with the same head. This is the most versatile of vacuum types as it can accomplish nearly all household vacuuming jobs (not suitable for wet/dry applications).

Central Vacuum System – This type of vacuum system is typically mounted in the basement or garage and has 1 or 2 larger and more powerful motors. These systems have the air routed through the walls via PVC pipe and wall outlets with a 30’ long hose inserted into the vacuum inside the house. Some systems use a “turbo” brush and others permit the use of a separate “powerhead” to provide the same cleaning performance as upright or canister type vacuums. With this type of system, the dirt and allergens are exhausted outside of the house. Some people do not like having to hang or store the 30’ hose and powerhead.

Handheld Vacuum – These are small vacuums that are used for small or quick jobs around the home. They can be made with an electrical cord that must be plugged in or may be “cordless” with a rechargeable battery.

Steam Vacuum – This type of vacuum is a misnomer, as these carpet cleaning systems do not actually produce steam. However, this is the label that has typically been applied to these types of cleaners. They are more correctly household “extractors.” In most cases, these cleaners inject carpet cleaning solution into the carpet through one or more jets, the solution is agitated by the use of a brush to loosen the embedded dirt in the carpet and then a vacuum motor “extracts” the dirt and water based solution and deposits it inside an internal tank in the unit where it can then be emptied.

Stick Vacuums – Stick vacuums are usually small and lightweight in their design. They have a long handle and can have an electrical cord or can be powered by a rechargeable battery. They are used primarily for small areas or for quick pick ups.

Backpack/Hip Vacuum – Vacuums of this style are very portable and are carried on the back with a shoulder or waist harness for equal weight distribution. They are quite powerful and are used mostly in commercial applications as they can do a wide variety of jobs. These types of vacuums can be used with a turbo brush or a powerhead (the vacuum must be manufactured or retrofitted with an appropriate plug for use with a powerhead).

Wet/Dry Vacuums – These vacuums are typically referred to as a “Shop Vac,” but this is actually the name of the company whose name has become synonymous with the wet/dry vacuum, just as Kleenex has become synonymous with tissue. These vacuums are used for a variety of industrial or heavy duty jobs. The vacuums can be used to pick up water or wet solutions as well as large particles of a dry nature. Some wet/dry vacuums have multiple motors for additional power, and some can be fitted with a squeegee to funnel water or wet material into them more easily. Some units may be fitted with advanced HEPA filtration when being used for hazardous material cleanup. They come in a variety of sizes—from a few gallons to those that can be fitted to a 55 gallon barrel.

Carpet Sweeper – Although technically this is not a vacuum as it has no motor to create air flow, we include it as another means of cleaning your floors. Many of you have seen these in use at restaurants. During the time when patrons are eating, it is not desirable to turn on a vacuum cleaner and have the noise and the potential churning up of a lot of airborne dust. This mechanical device utilizes a brush, or rubber vanes, to sweep particles on top of floors or carpets, and brush them into a holding compartment to be emptied later.

Selecting a Vacuum (top)

Here is where your journey to find the right vacuum begins. A very large percentage of our customers come to the store and ask us, “What’s the best vacuum for sale?” There is only one correct answer to that question. The answer is, “It depends.”

Remember, the BEST vacuum cleaner for YOU is the one that will do the cleaning job that you require, on the surfaces that you must clean, with the effectiveness that you need. You should be able to afford the right vacuum, and you should feel comfortable using it regularly.

About every 3rd person who comes to our store says that they want a “lightweight” vacuum. Our next question is, “Do you want a vacuum with cleaning tools and hose attachments on board?” 9 out of 10 times the answer to that question is, “Yes.” Unfortunately, as of today, you can have lightweight or you can have on board tools, but you cannot have both.

The following is a list of questions that we recommend you answer for yourself and give serious consideration to before choosing a vacuum. We at BEST VACUUM SUPERSTORE utilize our knowledge and experience to take the answers to these questions and sift through the maze of over 200 choices in our store and narrow it down to 3 or 4 choices.

  • Is your home single or multi-story?
  • Who does the vacuuming in your home?
  • How much of your floor is carpet? (as a percentage of total square footage)
  • What type of carpet? (some of the new shags have very specific requirements or your warranty could be voided)
  • How much is hard floor? (as a percentage of total square footage)
  • What type of hard floors? (this can be very important in selecting a vacuum)
  • Do you have pets?
    • Does anyone in your family have allergies?
  • Do you have your carpet cleaned professionally on a regular basis?
  • What kind of vacuum do you currently use?
  • What do you like about the vacuum?
  • What do you dislike about the vacuum?
  • Do you operate more than one vacuum?
  • Do you use your vacuum to clean drapes? Shutters? Lampshades?
  • Do you want a vacuum with on board cleaning tools and attachments?
  • How long do you expect your vacuum to last?
  • What is your budget for a vacuum?

Most people are very willing to share the answers to any of the other questions that we ask, but when we ask about budget, most people seem unwilling to answer this question. I suspect that it is a belief that we’ll point them to a more expensive vacuum. We have over 200 vacuum cleaners on display and the prices range from $19.99 to $1,300.00. It makes no sense for one of our professionals to spend time showing you a vacuum that fits all of your needs as you have described them, but costs $750, if your budget only allows for a maximum of $400. It is our desire to match you to 3 or 4 models out of the 200 choices that meet your specific needs.

Often customers ask us, “What’s the difference between that $200 vacuum and that $800 vacuum or a $400 vacuum and a $1,150 vacuum?” This is a fair and very reasonable question and is usually fairly simple to answer when we are in the showroom comparing two specific models. But to answer the question here without specific models, I will give you a GENERAL answer. When purchasing a more expensive vacuum, there are generally 4 things that justify the additional investment:

  • Performance
  • Filtration
  • Longevity or Durability
  • Features

Answering the questions above and finding a vacuum that may do a wonderful job of cleaning your home the way that you want is only part of the job. Once we have narrowed down the choices for you, we recommend that you “test drive” the vacuum in our showroom. We will plug in each vacuum, and let you try each one so that you can determine whether it is right for you. If you find that a vacuum meets all of the criteria that we have established and you then take it home where it seldom gets used because it is “too heavy” or “awkward” or any other complaint, then it will not be a very good vacuum cleaner for you. The BEST vacuum is the one you will use often to keep your home or business clean.

Definitions (top)

The following is a short list of things that we believe is important and that many of you have asked us about when you have visited:

There is no clearing house such as UL (Underwriter Laboratories) that independently tests all vacuum cleaners and publishes a report so that you can compare the performance of the vacuums under the exact same conditions for each model. This is unlikely to happen unless there is government momentum to do so. Some go to Consumer Reports to obtain what you believe is a method of accomplishing this. This is probably not your best source either. What is the best method? The best method is to utilize knowledge and education when one is making a decision to purchase a quality vacuum.

Air Flow –The movement of air from one location to another, usually measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). It is the force exerted by the moving air which actually picks up the dirt and moves it into the bag or dirt container. This is one of the most important aspects of determining the true measure of vacuum cleaner effectiveness. Yet, sadly, few manufacturers publish these test numbers.

Amperage (amps) –This is the most misunderstood and least reliable method for determining the performance of a vacuum cleaner. The maximum allowable amperage allowed by UL is 12 amps. We have vacuums that vary from 4.2 amps to 12 amps. Remember that just because a motor is rated at 12 amps does not mean that it is constantly drawing 12 amps while you are using it. This is the MAXIMUM rating. Amperage DOES NOT equal performance.

Air Watts –A specification developed in an effort to rate the output power of the vacuum cleaner instead of its input power. This is actually a good indication of the efficiency of a vacuum, but it is used mostly by manufacturers of central vacuum systems. It is based on suction with air flow at the unit itself, so it is affected by the suction produced by the suction motor as well as the internal resistance to air flow. The suction and air flow are measured with the air flow being restricted by a 2” opening. Care should be taken not to confuse this suction with air flow rating or with the sealed suction rating (no air flow), which is about four times higher.

Keep in mind that the air watt rating does not necessarily reflect the actual air flow in the complete system during normal use. In addition to the resistance within the power unit and the resistance caused by air turbulence in the hose and tubing, there is restriction where the cleaning nozzle contacts the floor, as well as increased resistance within the filtering system as it fills with dirt.

Beater Bar –A long stiff bar or raised section of the brush roll that is designed to separate the carpet fibers and vibrate to cause the dirt particles to be loosened and thus be available to be drawn into the vacuum by the suction and air flow. This was common on vacuums in years past but is less common today. Some commercial vacuums still have this feature, and the “beating” on non padded commercial carpet actually damages the vacuum motor and requires premature motor or bearing replacement.

Brush Roll –A part of the vacuum that is cylindrical in shape and makes contact with the carpet. Its primary purpose is to agitate the carpet, separating the fibers so that dirt, embedded hair, dust, and other microscopic items lodged in the carpet fibers can be drawn into the air stream. The embedded particles might not be able to be picked up with only a strong suction and air flow; thus, the brush roll provides that action. There is usually one brush roll in a vacuum; however, some manufacturers have opted for multiple and even counter rotating brush rolls on their vacuums.

Cleaning Effectiveness – There is no agreed upon definition of what this means, but there are generally two ways of viewing this. 1) The ability of a vacuum to pick up dirt from a particular surface. 2) The ability of a vacuum to pick up dirt, filter and trap it so that the dirt or allergens are not re-circulated back into your home.

Cleaning “Effectiveness Rating” – Complete smoke & mirrors. This is one manufacturer’s attempt to utilize some valid and standardized tests and add some of their own criteria to make consumers believe that they were providing a better vacuum. It is confusing, misunderstood and irrelevant.
Filtration – Technology has not significantly changed around the vacuum cleaner industry for many years. The concept of a vacuum motor that produces suction and air flow through the use of an electric motor has remained relatively unchanged for many years. The one exception is in the area of advanced filtration, which ensures that the dirt and allergens picked up by your vacuum STAY in your vacuum and do not get recycled and blown around your home.

The dirty air passes through a filter medium to remove it from the air. Various components that can be used in filtering systems include paper bags, nylon electrostatic filters, glass fiber paper filters, cloth or foam filters, cyclonic chambers, and even water (despite all demonstrations to the contrary, water is a very poor filter medium). Your vacuum bag is one of the most important parts of this filter system. If you use a “bagless” vacuum you must have another type of filter to trap the dust from the exhaust flow of the vacuum motor, and these must be regularly cleaned to maintain the efficiency of the vacuum.

HEPA – This is among the most often referred to items that consumers want in their vacuums today. HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate air.” HEPA is a filtering specification developed during World War II when the United States was developing nuclear weapons. We felt a need to filter out all radioactive dust and particles from sites and not have them emitted into the atmosphere. Specifically, the specification for a HEPA filter is that it must filter 99.97% of all particles .3 microns in size. Just for reference, a particle of 10 microns is invisible to the naked eye. Pollen ranges between 5-100 microns and human hair between 70-100 microns.
For more information on a HEPA filtration system, please visit our “What is HEPA” page.

Suction – Used broadly, suction is the ability of a vacuum cleaner to efficiently pick up dirt. When used in a more narrow way, it is the actual pull or pressure difference created by the spinning fans in the suction motor. The term suction is often used interchangeably with the term vacuum. Suction or vacuum is measured in “Inches of Water Lift” (see below). This is a very specific test and is calibrated for variances in atmospheric pressure so that all vacuum motors can be evaluated equally. Unfortunately, very few vacuum cleaner manufacturers publish these test numbers for comparison.

Water Lift – The sealed suction of a vacuum cleaner as rated in inches of water lift is a good indication of how well it will perform, especially when comparing systems with higher resistance to the air flow. The air flow is proportional to the amount of suction produced by the motor and inversely proportional to the total resistance to air flow within the complete system. Therefore, if everything else is equal, the more suction produced by the motor, the better the performance of the system. The sealed suction rating is somewhat greater than the suction normally produced when operating with air flow.

Which is Better Bagged or Bagless? (top)

This is one of the most common questions asked in our store. With over 50% of all vacuums sold in America being bagless, one would assume that so many people can’t be wrong. Can they?

The recent trend in consumers buying bagless vacuums is an example of some of the finest marketing you will ever witness. I say that with a great deal of respect. American consumers have been seduced (yes seduced) into accepting and embracing a vacuuming system that is inherently dirty.

You have been convinced that you will never have to buy vacuum bags again. This is absolutely true if you buy a bagless vacuum. The marketing of these machines has played on your frustration of finding that you have a full vacuum bag and don’t have a replacement and now have to go out for the unpleasant task of finding replacements. And, who knows if you will remember which ones you need in order to get the right ones. Bagless vacuums have been touted as “maintenance free.” I will state emphatically now that there is no such thing as a “lifetime filter.” You were told that it “won’t lose suction.” This is technically true, but as a practical matter, a complete falsehood. Did you ever read the owner’s guide to show you how to unclog your vacuum? If it’s clogged, doesn’t it lose suction? As I said, the manufacturers played on the unpleasant parts of vacuuming to create a desire on your part to avoid these things in the future.

While telling you that you will never have to buy bags again, you are not told that a filtering device (a bag is a filter) is still needed to keep dust from re-circulating into your home. One or more filters is required to catch the fine dust particles in a bagless vacuum, and if these are not regularly cleaned and periodically replaced, your vacuum will soon be spewing a lot of dirty air into your home. Bagless vacuum filters clog quickly and are seldom maintained as required by homeowners. And worst of all, the cost of replacing the filters in a bagless vacuum will EXCEED the cost of replacement vacuum bags in almost all cases.

Bagless vacuums have many rubber seals and joints in them. At each one of these joints is an opportunity for air to leak out, and rather than capture dust and debris, it has the potential to leak back into your home. In our store, we will show you by using a particle counter how much more dust is being re-circulated into the air from dirty air leaking from the joints of these vacuums.

Another thing avoided in the marketing of bagless vacuums is the requirement to have to empty the dust bucket of all that fine particle dust and dirt. I have emptied the bucket on these vacuums, and it is hard to describe the “dust cloud” that billows out from the trash can when doing this outside. And, I hope no one has ever done this inside your home. The need to run the vacuum immediately afterward would be appropriate.

Most manufacturers have capitalized on the initial success of the “seduction” and offered their product at very low prices. It’s because they are not costly to make and are also made poorly. Most bagless vacuums are priced below $200 and many are below $100. Yet the best selling manufacturer of bagless vacuums has utilized bright colors, unique design, and brilliant marketing to get you to give them at least $400 and as much as $700 for a product that is no better than the lower priced models.

One of the worst claims made by bagless manufacturers is that these vacuums are appropriate for allergy sufferers because of their HEPA filter. As I stated earlier, these vacuums leak at the seals and joints and can spew millions of fine dust particles into an otherwise clean house and trigger reactions to sensitive people.

In our opinion, bagged vacuums are preferred and are much better and cleaner for your home. Bagged systems are much easier to dispose of. Just close the bag latch or fold it over and throw it out. Generally the replacement bags cost less than replacement filters for bagless vacuums. The vacuums are of much higher quality and will last longer and clean better over the life of the machine. Many conspirators would have you believe that the argument for bagged vacuums is because we want to be able to sell bags for years to come. If one looks at the statistical data on the number of bagless vacuums sold in the U.S., it would suggest that people are buying a new vacuum cleaner (remember more than 50% of all vacuums are bagless) every two years. Where are all those bagless vacuums going? I’m afraid it’s to the landfill. When you have bought 2 or 3 of these and are tired of buying a new vacuum every coupe of years…come and see us and we will demonstrate a quality vacuum that you will operate for many, many years.

Unique Vacuum Issues: Pet Hair, Allergies, Shag, Hardwood (top)

Pet Hair

If you have pets in your home, then no doubt you have dealt with cleaning up the hair they leave behind. What is the best vacuum for dog or cat hair? Manufacturers of vacuums have had to address this issue to deal with the ongoing problems of hair or dander. Fortunately, there are options.

Hand held vacuums are designed for small jobs. Since they are so light you can easily move them from sofa to couch, which is made even easier since some models are cordless. When you need to vacuum up pet hair from stairs, furniture, beds, or other household items, then a hand vacuum may be what you need.

Should you own a newer upright cleaner you may have a small, powered turbine attachment that works just like a mini vacuum. You hook these up to your hose, power on the machine, and use it like any other attachment. The power of these little tools is in their design. They have bristles just like their full sized counterparts so they can really pull dust, dirt, and even stubborn pet hair from any carpet. Plus they are attached to the hose so you can use them on any object in your home without difficulty. Think of them as a way to extend the functionality of your full sized vacuum. And if your current model doesn’t have one, you can buy one for a relatively low cost.

We want to make sure that we use a vacuum with a powered brush head as a rule. A turbo brush may work well, but it depends on the style of carpet whether this type of brush head will work properly. Suction only vacuums rarely are a good choice for pet hair as the hair is hooked microscopically in the carpet fibers and will hold on frequently even with a strong airflow.

We encourage you not to take any one person or manufacturer’s word for whether or not a vacuum works on pet and human hair. Ask the vacuum retailer to demonstrate the ability of his recommendation. A vacuum retailer can use cotton or kapok as these fibers are natural and act like pet hair, and one can instantly see whether or not the recommended vacuum is effective in picking this up.

Allergies

If you suffer from allergies and asthma, vacuuming does a lot more than make your home look better. It is as important as taking medication to control your condition. Vacuuming is an essential part of limiting exposure to asthma and allergy triggers such as pet dander, dust mites, pollen and other allergens. We only address the issues of vacuuming in this section, but allergy and asthmatics may require the additional step of air purification. Please see our section on Air Purifiers.

The first step to control asthma and allergy symptoms is to identify what triggers them. The second is to limit your exposure. Many who suffer from asthma and allergies find that triggers can vary with time and with the change of seasons.

A high-quality filtration system largely prevents asthma and allergy triggers from being returned to the air via the vacuum's exhaust. The vacuum should also be “sealed” to prevent dust and dirt from escaping from other places on the vacuum such as body seams. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and replacement frequency of filters and bags.

If you are an allergy sufferer, DO NOT BUY OR USE A BAGLESS VACUUM. This type of vacuum is terribly dirty and leaks from the seals and joints and emptying the dust container is like exploding a dust bomb around you. Regardless of claims of LIFETIME HEPA FILTERS and such, we will show you specifically in our showroom ANY bagless vacuum leaks by means of a particle counter. Conversely, we will show you a high quality alternative that WILL NOT leak and re-circulate dust into your home.

Carpet is what most people think of when you mention vacuuming. You need a vacuum that is powerful enough to get deep into the fibers and remove asthma and allergy triggers. It’s important for asthmatics and allergy sufferers to vacuum not only visible carpet areas, but under and behind furniture as well. Asthma and allergy triggers tend to build up in areas that are not frequently seen.

When vacuuming carpet and other surfaces, go slowly. Many people vacuum too fast to remove the dirt and allergens that are embedded deep in carpet fibers, and doing so will stir up more dust into the air than is being picked up. Allow the powerhead of the vacuum to move over the carpet to loosen debris, which will then be drawn into the air stream where it will be trapped in the vacuum bag.

Most asthmatics and allergy sufferers believe that hard floors are better for their conditions, but one must not forget that triggers still accumulate on hard flooring and have to be removed. Doing so is easy with the right vacuum equipment. You will want a vacuum that has a hard floor setting. This means that the brushroll can be turned off. Using the brushroll on a hard floor may damage the surface. Canister vacuums can be fitted with a floor brush that is quite effective in sweeping your floors and delivering the dust and dirt into the air stream to be picked up and lodged in the vacuum bag.

A commonly overlooked repository for asthma and allergy triggers is upholstered furniture, which can hold dust mites and other asthma triggers. Many vacuum cleaners have brushes and attachments specifically designed for cleaning upholstered furniture. You can also purchase a “turbo brush,” which can make the job of deeply cleaning your upholstery an easier task. Some fragile fabrics can be damaged by vacuuming. Most canister vacuums feature a variable speed control that allows cleaning of fragile items. Go slowly and be thorough. Make sure to clean all sides of pillows and cushions, and don't neglect the back and sides of the piece.

Drapes and curtains are among the most neglected hiding places for allergy and asthma triggers. The typically light nature of drapes and curtains makes them difficult to clean. A canister vacuum with variable speed control is the best way to speed up this process.

We spend a lot of time in our beds, as do many peoples' pets. Mattresses need to be frequently vacuumed. Vacuuming alone will not remove all of the dust mites from your mattress, but it will help. Vacuuming will also aid in removing pet dander from your bed as well as other allergens. When you vacuum your mattress, don't forget the sides and the back.

If you are an allergy sufferer or asthmatic, vacuuming is more critical to you than most people. Finding a TRUE HEPA filtered vacuum with a “sealed” unit will be an important element in your fight to keep the dust and dirt from floating around your home and triggering a reaction. When you come to our store, we will be sure to show you only those vacuums that are truly capable of delivering clean, filtered air into your home.

Experts agree that one of the best things you can do to manage allergies, especially inhalant allergies, is clean frequently. Vacuuming can remove both dust and other allergens, if done properly and regularly. Consider vacuuming at least twice a week and more frequently if your allergies are serious or you have carpet in your home.

Shag Carpet

Shag carpeting, an icon of the 1970’s, has been resurrected and today is frequently called frieze (pronounced frizz-ay), or California shag. Better carpet fibers and improved manufacturing techniques are creating a carpet with good looks and good wear capability. However, shag carpet demands the correct type of vacuum cleaner as you can literally destroy a vacuum, and even the carpet itself, with the wrong choice.

One of the challenges of having a shag style carpet is that if you were to actually read the manufacturer’s warranty, you would find that the warranty will be voided if you use a vacuum cleaner with a spinning brushroll. Carpet fibers are really quite durable on the tip. However, with shag, the fibers lie down rather than stand up, and the brush will actually scrape fibers off of the yarn and eventually wear it out. A traditional vacuum cleaner with a brushroll should NOT be used on a shag carpet!

One of the dirty little secrets of the situation is that while this is true, your carpet can’t really be cleaned without some sort of agitation. Some manufacturers make tools that appear like a rake and have good success with removing some items stuck in the carpets. But in the end, there is a reason that vacuums have brushes that spin—because they do the best job of agitating and grooming the carpets.

Some of the varieties of shag MAY be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner with a brush roll, but it’s absolutely essential that there is a manual height adjustment and that it is used so that the brushroll touches the tips of the fibers and does not dig down into the side of the yarn. This is delicate issue, but if you are interested in exploring this option, please bring a piece of your carpet so that we can determine whether or not this option will work for you. I repeat that using a brush will invalidate the warranty on your shag or frieze carpets.

For longer shag, a canister with a straight suction nozzle, or an upright vacuum where the brushroll can be turned off, is the right choice. In addition, the old-fashioned tool called a carpet rake is also recommended for grooming the carpet and fluffing the yarn strands before vacuuming. If you have frieze or shag carpeting, come see us today for the right vacuum cleaner and tools.

The 6 Most Common Mistakes
When Buying a Vacuum

The 6 Most Common Mistakes
Vacuum Myths Exposed
The Venturi Principle

The 6 Most Common Mistakes (top)

  1. Buying a vacuum at a store that does not repair or service vacuums.
    Can you get your new vacuum serviced where you purchased it? When you purchase a vacuum that fits your needs and problems arise, most of the time it is an easy fix. However, if you have to send it to Atlanta, it’s a major problem. When you buy a vacuum, you should ask the sales people, “How long will it take to get my vacuum serviced? Is 24 hour service available? How long will it take to get my vacuum back? Can I get a loaner vacuum if I need one?” A good vacuum should be designed to last many years with proper maintenance. Your vacuum purchase should be the beginning of a long relationship with your retailer, not the end of one.
  2. Buying a vacuum without trying it out first.
    Would you buy a car without a test drive? When buying a vacuum, test it on your type of carpet right in the store. Too many times we go to a big store thinking they have good selection and prices. Have you ever found anyone at one of these stores that has any knowledge about vacuum cleaners? Most of the time a store that specializes in vacuums will have a better selection and staff that can actually help you! Bring the person who is doing the vacuuming with you when choosing your new vacuum. Selection of a canister or an upright has a lot to do with circumstances and personal preference.
  3. Buying a vacuum that doesn’t pick-up pet and human hair.
    Pet and human hair is one of the most common reasons why vacuums fail. Hair can get into bearings causing it to overheat and melt plastic parts of your vacuum. If you don’t get the right vacuum, you could be replacing it year after year. There are many vacuums to choose from that are designed to help with this problem. Some vacuums even have a metal brush roll which works great for people with long hair.
  4. Buying a Bagless vacuum.
    Do you really want to breathe the dirt you just cleaned up? Like HEPA filtration, many people don’t understand bagless vacuums. Thirty years ago, we had bagless vacuums. They were so messy that they invented the paper bag so you could efficiently throw out your dirt. Most people don’t know that in order to work efficiently, you must replace the filters every three months to a year, and they cost as much as $150.00. High filtration vacuum bags cost about $2 to $4 each and you replace them every 1 to 2 months. That could save you $120 a year! Any good vacuum store will be able to get you any vacuum bag for a fraction of the price of a bagless vacuum’s HEPA filters. Bagless vacuums are dirty, heavy and expensive!
  5. Buying a “disposable” vacuum:
    How long do you want your new machine to last? Ask your store about the repair record of the vacuum you are considering. If they don’t know, that should register as a red flag. If you haven’t purchased a vacuum in ten years, you probably want your new vacuum to last 10 years or more. Unfortunately, the top manufacturers aren’t making the same vacuums they made 10 years ago. Look at the warranty. If it is one year, you might not expect it to last ten. To ensure long life, vacuum manufacturers recommend that you service your vacuum once a year.
  6. Buying a vacuum that doesn’t fit your needs.
    Buying the highest amperage won’t give you better cleaning. There are only 3 things that assist in cleaning: suction, air flow and brush roll action (not amps or watts). Make sure you are buying the right vacuum for your home. Different types of carpet and hard floors are cleaned differently. Some vacuums can scratch your hard floors or damage your carpets. Just because your friend has a certain vacuum, or a vacuum looks nice and shiny, doesn’t mean it is the right one for you. Most bells and whistles don’t clean—they break. Make sure that the vacuum you are looking at will perform as you expect it to before you take it home.

    Some common mistakes:
  • Too Heavy: If you have to carry a vacuum upstairs, weight may become a consideration. It can also become precarious to balance a vacuum while cleaning the carpet on the stairs. There are vacuums specifically designed to be used on stairs. Sometimes it makes sense to have one vacuum upstairs and one downstairs. There are full size vacuums on the market that weigh as little as 8 pounds. Keep in mind that it should be a major concern not a minor one. Generally, lighter weight vacuums make compromises for being lightweight. We offer some terrific lightweight vacuums but ask your vacuum professional if these tradeoffs affect your situation
  • Too Dusty: This is the area where most people make a major mistake in purchasing a vacuum. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) is a standard that hospitals use for air quality. Don’t be fooled thinking that just because a vacuum has a HEPA filter in it that the vacuum has been tested for HEPA filtration. Very few of them are. Just because the packaging says HEPA, does not ensure that HEPA standards have been met. But beyond dust, did you ever wonder how many dust mites are in your house? A high filtration vacuum will help lower the dust mites and other contaminates that your family breathes every day.
  • Have Area Rugs: You need professional advice if you have area rugs. Getting the highest suction isn’t necessarily the best choice. The type of rug will determine how aggressive your brush roll has to be. Too high suction or brush roll action can ruin your rugs. Too low will not clean. Either way, the wrong vacuum will shorten the life of your carpet. If you have fringe, ask us how to correctly vacuum it.
  • Above Floor Cleaning (Attachments): Do you want to be able to pick up that little dust bunny while you are vacuuming? Purchasing a machine that has tools that easily detach will make your cleaning job easier. Keep in mind that tools onboard will add weight to your vacuum. To properly clean a home you should start from the top down. First, turn on your air purifier. Next, do all of your above floor cleaning and dusting with your attachments. Finally, do the floors. Do you want your new vacuum to do your dusting?
  • Too Noisy: Do you want your vacuum to be as noisy as a jack hammer or a rock concert? If you have a pet or person in the house that is highly sensitive to noise, make sure you try out your new vacuum before you buy it so that you can hear how loud it is. Some vacuums are extremely quiet. Your next vacuum doesn’t have to be loud to be powerful. Small children are sensitive to noise and crawl on the ground. It must be clean! They also have a tendency to leave small objects around. Some vacuums are designed to handle those problems without damaging your vacuum.

Vacuums have a dirty job to do! They are also the most replaced appliance in your home. Again, because vacuums are used so often to pick up dirt, all manufacturers recommend service once a year. Before you buy, ask your store what you have to do if you need service or if there is a problem with your new vacuum. If they say you have to take it somewhere else to be repaired or serviced, you might want to buy it from the original source in the first place.

Vacuum Myths Exposed (top)

Myth #1: Amps Mean Performance
Amps are a measure of electrical current, not vacuuming performance. Measuring a vacuum cleaner’s performance based on amps is like buying a car based on how much gas it guzzles. The design of the entire machine, how it handles and controls airflow, and how it incorporates filtration determines its quality, not the electrical energy it consumes.

Myth #2: Everyone Needs HEPA
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) is a technical definition that refers to a filter that will remove not less than 99.97% of 0.3 micron diameter particles or larger from the air that passes through it. We want to have the fewest particles released or driven into the air—regardless of whether that vacuum is HEPA or not. Some microfiltered systems accomplish this just as well as some systems called HEPA. Find out what the "particles out" are, and you’ll have the all-important information you need.

Keep in mind that even high-end HEPA-filtered vacuums may still be driving dust airborne by the impact of a beater brush against the carpet. With uprights or canisters equipped with power heads, the critical information to have is how much airflow and lift are occurring at the beater brush/floor interface to help determine whether or not particles are being pulled into the vacuum or driven airborne.

The extra-wide orifice on some upright vacuums and power nozzles result in greatly diminished suction at the tool head and poor soil capture. More on this later under "The Venturi Principle".

Myth #3: Picking Up a "Bowling Ball" Shows Cleaning Power, NOT!
The bowling ball trick is just that—a trick. This sales technique is based on the power of a suction cup. Have you ever stuck a suction cup on a mirror and tried to remove it by pulling directly away from the mirror? It’s hard to do. Why? Once a seal is created on a smooth surface, the seal is difficult to break. Does a vacuum tool’s ability to form a seal around a bowling ball and pick it up like a suction cup have anything to do with how well the vacuum can remove soil from a surface? Not even close!

Myth #4: All Vacuum Belts are the Same
Not all vacuum belts are created equal. Most vacuum belts will stretch, slip and wear out quickly, whereas a high-quality belt is geared or sprocketed like an automobile timing belt, and can literally last for years. In addition, geared/ sprocketed belts do not slip, ensuring better and more consistent soil pickup and removal. Sprocketed belts help ensure better overall performance, and they enable you to spend more time cleaning and less time changing belts.

Myth #5: Cyclonic Systems Do Not Use Filters & Require Less Maintenance
Virtually all cyclonic or bagless vacuuming systems use a final filter to catch the dust that cyclonic filtration cannot remove from the airflow. This is often a HEPA media filter. This final filter will require regular cleaning or replacement to ensure optimal performance. If you fail to perform the needed filter maintenance, the vacuum will not perform as intended. Worse still, if the filters are not properly maintained, the filter will clog and cause the resulting pressure build-up to force dirty, unfiltered air around the many seals of a bagless vacuum. The cost of replacing the final filter may equal or exceed the cost of using conventional bag filter media. The quality of cyclonic systems varies widely. Do your homework and request the all-important particles in, particles out information in the form of test data from the manufacturer to determine overall performance.

Some vacuum cleaners are actually designed to produce cyclonic airflow even with conventional microfilters. Ribbed panels in the filter containment area create a rotating column of air inside the filter bag, so soil is deposited evenly on the sidewalls of the filter where it has the greatest surface area, ensuring sustained airflow longer.

Myth #6: All Vacuum Cleaners Have Similar Design Features and are Equally Easy to Use
Ergonomic design, weight and other factors affecting ease of use vary widely among vacuum cleaners. Handle weight is a critical factor with uprights, as is ease of rolling and maneuverability.

Canister vacuums vary widely in shape and design, affecting usability. One model balances the weight primarily over the large rear wheels to facilitate nimble handling and ease of pulling. Some canisters trip over power cords, while others roll over such obstacles easily. Design and weight distribution make the difference.

Backpack vacuums now weigh in at less than 10 pounds, with precision suspension systems that distribute the weight across the hips and not the shoulders for ideal balance and maneuverability.

Myth #7: Suction Alone Makes a Vacuum Work Well
Actually, it’s the entire vacuum system that makes it effective or ineffective. There are four key benchmarks to use in evaluating a vacuuming system:

A) Airflow
Airflow is the amount or volume of air moving through the vacuum, usually measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The amount of air moving through a vacuum affects the amount of soil that can be carried along by the airflow and contained in the vacuum’s filtration.

B) Lift
Lift, also known as static lift or water lift, is the ability of the vacuum’s airflow to lift dirt. It is typically measured in "inches of lift" determined by how many inches the vacuum cleaner’s airflow can pull water up a tube in a lab test.

The higher the two numbers (airflow and lift) are, the better, since this combination largely determines the vacuum’s ability to pull particles in.

C) Filtration
Filtration captures the soils and is mainly responsible for reducing particles out. Filtration must be designed and proportioned to work with the vacuum’s airflow and lift so that the particles are stopped but not the airflow.

D) Design
In some cases, good vacuuming potential and/or filtration are defeated by poor design. Examples of poor design include a tool orifice that lowers air velocity by being too wide (many beater brushes require an excessively wide tool orifice that reduces suction significantly) and body tolerances that allow dust to leak from non-filter areas.

The Venturi Principle (top)

The Venturi Principle is an important bit of science to understand. Basically, the Venturi Principle causes air velocity to increase as the corridor it passes through narrows. That explains the effectiveness of suction-only backpacks or canisters that use a narrow tool opening or orifice enabling greater suction, versus some upright machines that have a very wide tool orifice to accommodate the rotating brush, thus reducing air velocity and cleaning effectiveness.

The best vacuums reach an effective compromise, enabling effective cleaning of plush carpet by proportioning the orifice opening and beater brush to allow the rotating brush to perform well while maintaining proper airflow and lift to remove soil and prevent airborne contaminants.

What to Ask Vacuum Vendors
In reality, for excellent filtration to occur, the filter system must be sized and sealed properly and contain the right media.

This gets confusing because manufacturers test their equipment and explain their results differently. For example, some companies test only the air going through the filter, but not the air coming out of the motor exhaust or through gaps in the body or around the motor housing and wheels. Other manufacturers use different methods to test their vacuums and filters. It’s even possible that some simply make marketing claims with virtually no testing at all.

Since not everyone follows the same rules, there are, in effect, many similar-sounding but different claims made by manufacturers to market their vacuum cleaners and filtration, with very little standardization and no regulatory policing. These are the kind of issues to consider when you select vacuums in Orange County.

Return to Top of Page