Thursday, July 16, 2015

DIY Dog Hair - Life in a Vacuum

has a great little post up about the further adventures of "Jim" who resembles a vacuum cleaner (or a baby giraffe) and has a life all of his own.

If you have a pet - with resultant pet hair and treat crumbs, you likely own a vacuum cleaner..  It's one of those appliances that seem to sit in the corner when not in use until they don't work at ALL, then get thrown out and another purchased.

Every one has different standards of what they are comfortable with, cleanliness wise.  I am perfectly fine coming home to a Triumph TR6 carburetor disassembled on my dining room table as long as the bathtub sparkles.  Some folks aren't happy unless one can perform brain surgery on their floors while others are perfectly happy not getting out a bottle of Windex and the paper towels until the bacteria in the kitchen is big enough to enter a tractor pull.
Personally I like to keep a reasonably clean house, both my own and my elderly Dads (I redecorated his bathroom with new paint, curtains, cabinets and a sign!) I also like to do so economically, even making up some of my own cleaning solutions. (Note to readers:  Do NOT clean your toilet bowl with Diet Coke and Mentos.)

So I noticed how expensive vacuum cleaners had gotten.  Then after going through a couple in about as many years I did two things.

I ignored the urge to buy another cheap one.  This is one appliance where paying a little extra is worth it. Mine gets a pretty good workout between dog hair in two homes and that Christmas party where someone made a glitter bomb.

I then learned how to to do basic upkeep and read the owner's manual.
If it  doesn't turn on:

First make sure the outlet it's plugged into isn't controlled by a switch on the wall (now don't I just  feel stupid now?)

Next, check the connection and make sure it hasn't blown a fuse.  When that happens, no one is happy. Fuses are like safety valves, if a circuit overloads then its fuse or circuit breaker triggers and the electricity is automatically cut off.  Resetting a blown circuit breaker is easy (though I learned you need to think about WHY it blew first, especially when at 40,000 feet) while that blown fuse needs to be replaced.  That in itself is an easy fix, and ladies, if you can do this without help, your man WILL be impressed.
(1) To turn off the power to the house at the fuse box, pull out the main fuse block, which looks like a rectangular block with a handle. It is usually located at the top of the panel. Tug hard and straight out on the handle. Use caution; the metal parts may be hot. (Your power company may well have an online tutorial for this, which I'd highly recommend.)
(2) Screw out the blown fuse in a counterclockwise direction (it's it the cartridge type, pull straight out)
(2) Replace the blown fuse with a new one of the same capacity.
(4) Replace the main disconnect panel to return power to the residence.

Isn't he impressed?  Now don't do this while coming in from a rainstorm, all wet -  you may end up with a perm where you really didn't want one.  Electricity and water do NOT mix so be careful of standing water in your basement or laundry room if there's a breaker box there.
The power source is good, but still no power?

Check the electrical cord.  If it's frayed and not connecting properly, re-splice the wires together and patch the splice with lots of electrical tape. (Please unplug it first unless you want your new nickname to be "sparky). This is a temporary repair only, but it will work.

If the motor has simply conked out, there's not much you can do but take it into a repair place or replace.

It just doesn't suck properly.

You've all done it. Vacuumed over that tiny little corner of paper, again and again, and it just stays there on the floor. With a sigh, you bend over and pick it up, only to throw it down and try and vacuum it up again.

Yes you have.
If your vacuum isn't picking up properly, there are a few simple things you can do before pitching it.

If it's old it just might need some minor adjustments.

First check the bag.

Make sure you have the right type for your vacuum.  Not just any bag will do.
Then see how full it is.  You know the "honey not now, I'm in a meat coma" after dinner at Fogo De Chao?  Well, overstuffed bags (or clogged filters) don't operate very energetically either.  Operating with a full bag also reduces the life of the vacuum.  Replace the bag when it's 1/3 to 2/3 full.

 If you have household pets, also buy a small flea collar and cut it into small pieces (wearing gloves) and put one into the bag (sealing the remainder in an air tight baggie) the night before you replace it.  That will kill any fleas before you remove it and put it in your trash (some recommend leaving a bit of one in there all the time but I'd rather not have the insecticide fumes in the house with all the air that moves through it).
Barkley - The Original Flea RV, in Park

Check that the hose doesn't have any holes in it. Holes in Swiss Cheese are good, your vacuum, not so much. Aren't you glad you bought that electrical tape.  Tape should be just a temporary fix until you can replace. Don't drape the disconnected hose up over a nail to store it, this is often the cause of the damage.

If it is the type that has a tube, make sure there's nothing clogging it (Hey - it's Mr. Squeeky!)
Though little kids love to go for a ride astride a canister type vacuum while you pull it, it's best to say no (look, the ice cream truck!).  Such vacuums aren't designed for that kind of weight, and you'll soon find yourself with a very expensive hose replacement.

The round spinning brush under the vacuum cleaner (basically an agitator) should spin freely.  If  it doesn't, there might be hair or small debris wrapped around it, keeping it from rotating and doing its job.  Use a small pair of scissors to cut through the build up, gently pulling it free. If it's finer hair or a piece of string, remove with a seam ripper (available in hobby stores or where sewing supplies are found).  If it's your better half's favorite bore snake for cleaning their squirrel hunting firearm, hide the remains quickly and distract them with a pie.
If the rubber belt attached to is is broken, you can replace that by removing the bottom place assembly with a screwdriver. Belts will need to be replaced every 6 months to 1 year, depending on how much it's used. Compare your belt to a new one to check its quality. It should be tight, without worn spots, cracks or unevenness.

I didn't think they still MADE shag carpeting? 

Some vacuums with agitators and brushes need to be adjusted for the height off of the carpet.  Too close and there won't be adequate suction to really pick up anything. Too high and they merely wave at the dirt.

And finally - 
It's not a vacuum cleaner.  It's a Dalek from BBC's Dr. Who and when you removed that bottom plate and poked it in the rear with a pair of needle nose pliers, you pretty much sealed your fate. 


  1. OMD, why are you helping people bring Vacula back to life?!?!! (Though I did laugh at the Dalek at the end.) That's just MEAN. You need to be arrested or something for that.

  2. Hari OM

    As one who would never have diet coke or mentos on the shopping list, there is no risk of that implosion.

    As father was an electrical engineer, we lived breathed and sparked with plugs et al.

    ...oh the paper/thread/glitter pickup... guilty. My new vacula is of the belt-less, bagless variety; LOVE it. Just remember to wash the filter. But still need to lift that recalcitrant bit and bob.,,

    Good to know we have a dalek-buster on the team though! YAM xx

  3. The best vacuum cleaner I ever had was a regular upright bag vac by Tennet-Trend. It faithfully and reliably picked up the hair and dirt of 4 kids and a couple cocker spaniels for many years until the plastic handle broke. Since then I have never found a vacuum that could pick up dog hair without burning out. Those hepa filter bagless things literally suck—NOT! We no longer have carpets and Dad uses the shop vac to clean the floor, plus a little elbow grease. (Well he's retired and I still work, so guess who does the house work now? I'm not picky about how he does it!)

    I think being able to fix all things electric is genetic. My youngest son and I cannot fix anything to save our lives. But Dad and the other kids, including the 2 girls, are great at it!

  4. Great info on vacuums. I have stopped buying vacuum cleaners since all they do is break. But this is some great info. Great post.

  5. Casey - I have Mom on "house wine" arrest. She is quietly sipping a glass as today is her "Friday" and she promised not to vacuum tonight.

    Abby Lab

  6. I have to say, the Dyson is worth the hype. I got a good one, used, for under $80. It is well designed, holds a lot of crud, and when stuff gets stuck in the tubing, the thing disassembles easily and smartly.

  7. We are so done with bagged vacuum beasties. We like the bagless vacuum. (Mommy used to he so bad with a bagged vacuum cleaner that she would change the bag ONLY when the vacuum couldnt stand upright anymore. When it kept tipping over from being too heavy- it was time to change the bag.).

  8. A couple of years ago mum finally broke down and bought a fairly expensive Shark (not as expensive as Dyson but, so far as she is concerned it is well worth the money). With my shedding and Tigger III shedding, Krysta has very few problems with it.

    Fixing wiring, etc., reminds mum when she was little (just after WWII) in London and power was still very iffy!!!

    Toodle pip


  9. Good information but our mom just says, "Bob, ya gotta fix this!" Since we don't shed that makes things a lot easier. Mom used to be the shedder but since she got her hair all cut off a couple months ago that takes care of that problem too. We know all about Jim. He is also on the Blogville soccer team as our goalie! BTW, the fish filets (tofu) came from the freezer department at WINCO. The same place they put the veggie burgers. It isn't real tasty but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do (mom said that).

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  10. Thank you for giving our "jim" a little plug (hahha) on your blog. We loves him, but we are wondering if he perhaps is a drawf giraffe cos he nevers gets any bigger. He is quite an adventurer and Mom lets him do even more stuff then she does us. I guess she feels like he can handle whatever is thrown at him...(hahha) anyways mom says its a good thing he is a giraffe cos she would be super disappointed if he was a real vacuum.
    stella rose

  11. The first notice that things may have gone badly wrong on the home front, is the small quiet voice of the Hot Chick from Philly saying, "Could you take a look at......".

    Shortly after trying out the new vacuum she found out that the fringe on the hall rug was not as well attached as we thought it should be. And it took a good bit of unwinding to get it out of the machine.

    We never reattached the fringe, and nobody ever asked why the rug was missing part of the fringe.

    I also found out recently that when you are heading for the counter with a bowl full of cereal to do the milk pour, and you catch the edge of the cereal bowl on the back of the chair, the cereal executes a textbook example of random distribution on the kitchen floor, and no matter what settings I tried, the vacuum would not pick up the dry cereal. The shop vac worked great though.


Welcome to The Book of Barkley and the Blogville dog blogging community. This blog was created for more memories of Barkley as well as updates on Abby the Senior rescue Lab, who we adopted in 2014.

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