M. Giant's
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Monday, June 07, 2010  

This Sucks

We switched to a bagless vacuum cleaner a couple of years ago. Our previous one was a decade old and worn out and falling apart and it was made by a company that's better known for manufacturing sewing machines, but the main reason we got rid of it was because we were out of bags for it. There's nothing particularly remarkable about it. It's not a three-ton Kirby and it's not a smug-ass Dyson in some 80s color and it's not one of those "canister" models that never made sense to me even though I grew up with one in the house (a Kenmore, BTW). I mean, since I'm in charge of the vacuuming I guess I could have convinced Trash that I needed to vacuum the rug with a wand on a hose attached to a big unwieldy motor on wheels I have to drag around that would bang up the furniture and the baseboards, and occasionally even take me out if I got enough extension going to effectively springload it and slingshot forty pounds of whining appliance at my shins. But it would have been a pyrrhic victory at best.

It's also not as reliable as one might hope. I generally vacuum the area rugs in the living room and the hallway every two to three days, with rugs in other parts of the house get more, shall we say, intermittent attention. But lately the living room has been looking like I've been letting it go for a week, even after I just got done.

Now, my mom's old canister vacuum had a little plastic door on the wand that you could open up, to reduce suction and allow you to do a shitty job of vacuuming should the mood strike you. I think the settings were "Full Suction," "Light Suction," and "Passive-Aggression." But our vacuum does not have this feature, and if it did, I would not be using it. At least not intentionally.

One nice thing about being a husband in charge of the vacuuming is that there are no frustrated breakdowns in communication between the person in charge of using it and the person in charge of keeping it in working order. I don't have to try to describe a noise to a skeptical mechanic; after a session, I just make a mental note of the still-dirty rug and the smell of plastic that's nearing the melting point and get on with my day.

Now, it's not like I haven't tried to fix it. Especially after we replaced a couple of windows in the living room back in April and the rug ended up looking like the construction zone it was, something got jammed in the beater bar during the cleanup. I took it apart and cleared it out, and that seemed to address the problem, as well as clearing out most of the pine needles from January in the process. I turned it upright and turned it on, and the vacuum worked brilliantly again. It even eagerly tried to pull itself forward across the rug, like a self-propelled lawn mower.

(Speaking of which, I did try to scam Trash into buying me a riding vacuum cleaner for Father's Day, but I'm not sure it's going to fly).

Unfortunately, some damage had already been done. As I discovered over the course of the next few weeks of rooting around under the vacuum's hood over the next month and a half on an almost weekly basis, the beater bar wasn't spinning as freely as it should. As a result of the friction caused by the blockage, some kind of plastic bearing on one end had partially melted or something, with the result that even after clearing out all of the human and feline hair, loose threads, and Legos out from under there, the thing still ended up cleaning like my mom's old canister model on the "Oh, What's The Freaking Point?" setting.

Finally, Trash had enough last night and said, "Fix it now."

"I've already fixed it half a dozen times!" I protested. "How much more fixed do you want it to be?"

This got me nowhere, but at least I didn't have to help with dinner. Instead I took my repair attempts further than ever before: outside. I sat out on the deck, with vacuum parts laid out next to me on a kitchen towel from Martha Stewart's "Passive-Aggression" line of linens, making M. Edium watch me slather motor oil onto every part of the beater bar I could get loose and several that I couldn't. When I had it mostly back together, our next-door neighbor saw me holding it upended, with my face lowered over the whirring beater bar, awaiting some whiff of overheated petrochemical, and asked if I was having any luck fixing it.

"I've fixed it enough times that I think I'm getting pretty good at it," I said.

He offered to lend me theirs, but when I got the vacuum back inside on the living room rug, it purred like a kitten, yet leaped forward like a panther. The rug was cleaner than it's been in months, even accounting for the black streaks of excess motor oil left behind.

I don't know how long it's going to last this time, but just in case I'm going to research whether I can order spare beater bar assemblies online. Either that or go buy myself the biggest, heaviest, antiquest canister model I can find, and then run myself over with it.

posted by M. Giant 9:04 PM 3 comments


Our stupid vacuum wasn't working and I was totally pumped to get a new one when my husband decided we should at least TRY to take it to a vacuum repair place and get it fixed. And fix it they did in a matter of 20 minutes and $20. I was sad. No new vacuum for me.

Calhoun Vacuum and Supply on 27th and Lyndale if you're interested...

By Blogger NGS, at June 8, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

I have a Dyson and it has worked very well. I was skeptical but we've had it for a number of years now and have had no issues and it does indeed still have suction. But my question is this, if Mr. Dyson worked on eighty million prototypes before coming up with the perfect vacuum cleaner why did it not occur to him at any point that he should have included a retractable cord? This seems like a pretty big oversight for someone who's sole purpose in life was coming up with the perfect vacuum cleaner!

By Blogger Unknown, at June 9, 2010 at 5:49 AM  

Carole: I have one with a retractable cord and the retraction(?) unit ceased functioning on about the third use. Vacuums great, but the cord is a pain since the retractable feature means there's no place to hang the cord once it stops retracting.

By Blogger Bunny, at June 10, 2010 at 6:07 AM  

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