This page is mainly dealing with conventional upright (including some stick models) and canister vacuums.
Incorrect Height Setting
First step, check the height setting on your machine.
If it is set too high (like for a deep carpet) on a low pile carpet, or on a smooth floor, you will hear much more noise—both from the brush roll, and from the airflow of the vacuum.
For hard floors, some units have a setting which allows the brushes to be shut off.
- If they are left on, the unit will be loud (and can damage the floor).
- If that setting is available, use it in combination with the proper height setting.
The Hose is Clogged or Damaged
The next easiest check is to make sure the hose is not clogged. At the same time, check to see that it has no holes or cracks.
You need to detach it from the machine and try looking through it first. But...
- Sometimes clogs don't show up fully when you look through the hose
- You may find you can't get the hose straight enough to look through, especially if it is long.
- There may be an angled fitting on the end of the hose, which prevents looking through it.
- So, follow up the visual inspection (which is valuable for checking the condition of the hose) with the physical check described next.
You can use a piece of stout wire (or a wooden dowel) to make sure there is no clog in the hose,
- A stout wire, like a metal clothes hanger that has been opened up, can be used. It has the right balance of rigidity and flexibility.
- Make sure you bend the end of the wire over into a small loop, so that it can't puncture your hose, and it will slide through more easily.
- Push the wire through the hose several times. There may be clogs that can only be dislodged in several tries. Rotate the wire if possible when you do this.
- If no clog is found, move on to the next cause.
Bag or Dirt Cup is Full
Another commonly overlooked problem that leads to increased noise from your vacuum is an overfilled dirt bag or dirt cup.
- The motor will spin faster as it tries to draw air through the full bag /cyclone and can't do so as well.
- Since it can't move the air (which takes work) it speeds up and becomes noisier.
- The change in volume is often gradual, You may more likely notice it when you have been using the vacuum for an extended period, then shut it off, and then have come back and turned it on again.
- The fix is to install a new bag or empty the dirt cup.
- Start it up again and check the sound, if it's better, you're done.
- If it is still loud, go to the next cause.
Brush Roll Issues
The brush roll (the spinning brushes) on your vacuum cleaner may contribute to excessive noise. They're noisy in the first place, and these following conditions add to the noise. You should do all the following checks.
Is the brush roll loaded with hair, string and other debris? The vacuum will make more noise, and this can ultimately stop the brush roll from turning, and cause broken belts.
Unplug your vacuum, turn it over and clean the brush roll fully.
- You may have to do some minor disassembly, like removing a cover that helps hold the roll in place.
- You will want scissors (and possibly pliers if it is very loaded) to remove everything.
- There are tools available that are like a letter opener that allow you to cut the hairs with less chance of damaging the brushes.
- There are links here to several pages that will show how.
Is the brush roll damaged? A damaged brush roll can also lead to noisy operation. Check to see that none of the brushes on the roll are coming loose and possibly striking the brush roll housing. You can do this while you have the brush roll out to clean it.
Are the brush roll bearings worn out? Worn out bearings on the brush roll will make a vacuum much noisier. This is a good time to check them after cleaning and inspecting the brush roll.
- Try spinning each bearing by hand. Some brush rolls have only one bearing on the roll, and the other bearing is in the head where the roll is mounted. A number of Dyson units are made this way.
- You can stand the brush roll on end, hold the other end and spin it. It should spin freely for several turns.
- You can flip it end for end and repeat for a more complete check.
- It should spin smoothly without roughness or wobble.
- If it doesn't, replace the brush roll.
Is the brush roll loose? A loose brush roll can be a source of noise.
- You should check to see that there is no play, front to back especially, in the brush roll when it is in place. You should check this before you install the belt.
- If there is play, you will need to determine why.
- Is the mounting area on the brush roll itself worn? If so replace the brush roll.
- Is it the brush roll mounting on the housing that is worn? To solve this, you might try to shim the roll into place so it doesn't move, or replace the housing.
Before reassembling and testing the unit, you should check the next two items as well.
Internal Air Passages Clogged
While the unit is open in this way, it is a good time to make sure that any internal air passages are clear.
- Many upright vacuums have a short length of hose that allows the handle and body to flex in relation to the base. That short hose can be clogged.
- You can use a hanger wire as described above to check this. Push the wire through to remove any debris. Do it a few times, but be careful not to puncture this hose.
- Check that this hose doesn't have a hole or cracks.
Reassemble and test the vacuum. if it is quieter you are done. It is still a good idea to clean (or replace) the filters mentioned below in any event, as this should be part of usual maintenance.
Internal Filters Clogged
Another contributor to extra noise is clogged secondary or internal filters. You may notice that your vacuum is louder because it sounds like it is clogged and is "straining".
- These filters are more commonly found on bagless machines that use a dirt cup and cyclonic separation, but bagged units like canister models that have air flowing through the motor will have them as well.
- Some vacuums can have up to three filters, There can be a primary filter, a motor pre-filter and a motor post-filter. (Sometimes they may not remind you about one of them, so look carefully).
- The filters are especially important for bagless models.
- These vacuums don't have a bag so these filters tend to see more particles.
- These internal filters can become slowly clogged with very fine particles.
- The filter immediately after the cyclonic portion (the dirt container), will generally clog the worst.
- It is consequently most likely to be the culprit for noise.
- It is also most frequently washable, but is best pre-cleaned with a vacuum first before washing
- If you wash it, make sure it has some time to dry before reinstalling it.
- You may find that replacing the washable filter is necessary after several cleanings.
- Some of these filters should just have the dirt knocked off or vacuumed off of them (if you have another small vacuum this is a good method).
- You may need to replace, rather than clean that type of filter after a few cleanings.
- When cleaning this type, you should do it outdoors or at least not over carpet, as it can be a bit messy if the vacuum has become dirty.
- Reassemble the vacuum and test it. If it is quieter, you are done.
Parts Not in Place
Your vacuum may sound abnormally loud, if parts are not correctly installed or the housing is not fully closed or is damaged.
Look for cracked parts that may be causing air leaks that are often noisy.
Look for misaligned or improperly installed items. This is especially true on models with a dirt cup or tank if it is not properly in place.
- Remove the dirt cup, empty it, and reinstall it.
- Clean the seals for the tubes that attach to the dirt cup to make sure there are no air leaks.
- Did the dirt cup latch back into place easily and positively?
- If you needed to force it, you should remove it and look for an accumulation of dirt or other foreign matter where it rests. This can be preventing it from seating properly.
If your vacuum has a hose attachment, check to see that the hose is properly in place.
On some models with multiple small cyclones, the cyclones themselves can become clogged. The vacuum is likely very dirty if this happens. This may require more disassembly, so it's something to check last.