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Why Does My Vacuum Cleaner Keep Cutting Out?

Written by James Hall |

Why is my vacuum cutting out

Does you vacuum keep cutting out? Here are some of the most common reasons and how to fix them.

There are two common reasons for a vacuum cleaner cutting out: electrical issues or overheating

Some problems are fixable at home, but others require a professional. We’ll run through the top reasons for your vacuum cutting out and what you can do about them.

Issue #1: Electrical Faults

An electrical issue, whatever the root cause, can lead to your vacuum cleaner losing power and cutting out. Here are some of the most common electrical problems and the best ways to resolve them.

1. The Power Source Has Been Interrupted

It sounds obvious, but power loss could be as simple as the plug coming loose or the cord getting trapped in a door. To avoid this happening, keep your path clear of furniture, try not to run over the wire, and know your cleaning radius. Don’t try and stretch the cord for that final corner if it’s not long enough!

A pulled power cable can damage the wires inside, with the copper conductors breaking and interrupting the electricity supply. The best way to test for this is to switch your vacuum on and give the cord a gentle wiggle. If different positions affect the power, then suspect damaged wiring.

In this case, you need to speak to a professional about repairs. Unless you’re a trained electrician, walk away from the wires and don’t attempt to fix it yourself.

Finally, check if the socket itself is working. Try using a different one and see if your vacuum works. Again, call a professional if you’re concerned about the socket. 

2. It’s Out of Battery

Check the battery is charged if you’re using a cordless vacuum cleaner. If you’re not sure about the power level, try plugging it in. There’s usually an indicator light to let you know how much juice it has. 

It’s best to pop your battery on charge when it runs out, so you know it’s always ready to go. Over time, the battery life naturally degrades. If it’s an old vacuum, you might need to buy a replacement battery. 

3. There’s A Faulty Power Switch

Parts of your vacuum will deteriorate over the years, including the on/off switch. If the switch breaks, it can cause the machine to cut out.

Make sure you check the manufacturer’s guidelines before attempting any repairs on the switch. As this is an electrical component, it’s best to contact a professional.

Issue #2: Overheating

Overheating is another common cause of a vacuum cutting out. Many issues can lead to the motor getting hot and triggering the thermal cut out. Luckily, most of these are easy to fix at home. 

But first, we need to explain a little more about the thermal cut-out and what it does. 

What is the Thermal Cut-Out?

A thermal cut-out is a built-in safety feature on modern vacuums that switches off the electrical supply when the motor gets too hot. 

It automatically activates to give your vacuum cleaner a chance to cool. When this happens, don’t try and turn the cleaner back on, just wait for it to cool down. The general rule is to wait at least 30 minutes, but your instruction manual will advise the correct time for the model. 

Important: Before carrying out any maintenance, make sure you switch the vacuum cleaner off and unplug it from the mains.

4. The Motor Has Overheated

The motor in your vacuum needs continuous cool air to prevent overheating. If too much dust and debris is gathered within the vacuum, the motor may get too hot.

An over-filled dust bag or canister will cause this to happen, so make sure you replace the bag or empty the canister when it’s getting full. Bagged models are better at trapping dust and maintaining airflow. But if you don’t want to use bags, try a sealed bagless system that keeps fine debris away from the motor.

Keeping on top of this simple maintenance will help prevent the motor from getting clogged with dust, leading to overheating.  

5. The Filters are Blocked

Filters trap dirt, allergens, and mould molecules, leaving clean air flowing out of the vacuum. If they become blocked, the motor won’t get the cool air it needs. 

A lot of filters are washable, but check the user manual if you’re not sure what type your vacuum uses. For washable filters, rinse them regularly and leave them to air dry before replacing them. 

If your vacuum cleaner doesn’t use washable filters, you can still tap them off to remove loose debris. Once clogged, however, you’ll need to replace them. Again, your manual will explain how long to leave between replacements.

6. Somewhere Else is Clogged

The floorhead, hose, and wand are all susceptible to blockages, which can activate the thermal cut-out. Again, it comes back to the blockage disrupting the flow of cool air to the motor. 

Something as simple as a clump of pet hair weaving together can cause a blockage. This will usually be accompanied by a change in tone, often a high-pitched whine.

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your vacuum will help to prevent this from happening. Make sure you:

  • Untangle hair that’s caught around the brush roll
  • Remove any blockages in the hose or entrance to the dust canister
  • Replace worn or torn filters
  • Check the wand for clumps (if your vacuum has one)
  • Clean the dust canister if you have a bagless vacuum cleaner
  • Empty the vacuum before it’s completely full

7. Long Run-Times

The longer you run your vacuum, the more chance there is of it overheating. Especially if you have lots of thick carpets to clean or you’re vacuuming on maximum power. 

Try planning a cleaning schedule so you’re not using it for long periods at once. If the vacuum has been on for a while and feels hot, switch it off and leave it to cool down. 

What to Do if Your Vacuum is Still Cutting Out

If you’ve tried all the home remedies to no avail, contact the manufacturer for assistance. Many brands, like Miele and Dyson, have dedicated service centres that will guide you through what to do next.

If your vacuum isn’t under warranty, try an independent repair shop. But weigh up the original cost and age of your vac, as pricey repairs aren’t always worth it. 

If it’s time to look at buying a new vacuum cleaner, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a no-nonsense guide on the 8 different types of vacuum cleaner to help find the best one for you.

Summary

If your vacuum keeps cutting out, don’t panic. There are a few home remedies to try, starting with checking the power source and cleaning your vac to prevent overheating. While some issues can be resolved at home, you should contact a professional for electrical problems.

If it’s the end of the road for your vac and you need a replacement, take a look at our guide to the best vacuum cleaners in the UK

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