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How to Select a Vacuum Cleaner

How can you select a vacuum cleaner for your home?

If you have installed or are planning to install carpets in your home, you need to have a vacuum cleaner for the cleaning purposes. Vacuum cleaners provide an efficient and effective way to clean the carpets in your home. It is important to select a proper vacuum cleaner which may be able to clean the carpets without damaging them. Most of the vacuum cleaners available in the market can damage the carpet pile fiber if the brush action is too aggressive. Furthermore, the advertisement High Efficiency Particle Arrestor (HEPA) filtration may not be able to extract dirt from the carpets. The carpet industry has now introduced a rating system for vacuum cleaners which sets a pass/fail criteria for the soil removal, filtration and damage to the carpet fibers. Having a vacuum cleaner in a home with carpets is essential; it is in fact, the most important tool required for the maintenance of your carpet. The majority of the dirt trapped inside the carpet fibers is dry soil and it cannot be removed by a wet piece of cloth. Dry soil is the worst type of dirt as it damages the carpet fibers and cuts them like a razor blade. The scarring on the carpet gives the look of a scratching glass and the primary function of the vacuum cleaner is to remove the dry soil. It is very important to select a vacuum cleaner based upon the characteristics that will make it a safe and efficient way to clean your carpets. This article provides some detailed information regarding the selection process of a vacuum cleaner.

Read the complete article to learn more about how to select a vacuum cleaner!

Selecting a Vacuum Cleaner

The Vacuum Cleaner is the most important tool used in the maintenance of your new carpet. The majority of soil tracked into your home is insoluble dry soil and cannot be removed with wet cleaning. Dry soil is the most damaging type of soil because it cuts carpet fibers like a razor blade. This scarring leaves carpet fiber with a dingy appearance similar to the effects of scratching glass. The primary function of the vacuum cleaner is to remove dry soil.

The primary problem with selecting a vacuum cleaner is it is a blind purchase. In the past, consumers had to rely on the worn path of dubious marketing claims offered by vacuum cleaner manufacturers.

Even the testing performed by consumer groups like Consumer Reports does not rise to the level of good science. In the past, Consumer Reports used a vacuum cleaner test procedure developed by vacuum cleaner manufacturers which had a 65% standard deviation of results, so a vacuum cleaner could remove anywhere from 25 grams to 90 grams of 100 grams of test soil and the results were considered identical. In 1996, when we began work on a Carpet industry test method for rating vacuum cleaners, we visited the Consumer Reports Test Facility in Yonkers NY. We were stunned to find that the environmental chamber they used for vacuum cleaner filtration/particle emissions testing amounted to plastic sheeting draped from the acoustical ceiling tiles in the Consumer reports lunchroom.

The carpet industry recognized that if the vacuum cleaner industry would not initiate a reliable test method for assessing vacuum cleaner performance, the carpet industry would have to initiate its own test procedure. After all, it the carpet industry’s product that was being harmed by improper maintenance equipment.

Vacuum Cleaner Rating

The Vacuum Cleaner Testing Program established a minimum soil removal standard (unknown to the consumer) and assigns a pass/fail rating based on the amount of soil removed.

The second criterion for this vacuum-testing program is damage to the pile fiber by overly-aggressive vacuum brushes. Testing revealed that stiff vacuum cleaner brushes can fray, disentangle, and permanently damage pile fibers. In some instances, a few weeks of vacuum cleaner use with a non-conforming vacuum cleaner can simulate the effects of more than a year of foot traffic.

The final criterion is particulate emissions. It appears as if every vacuum cleaner manufacturer is selling indoor air quality, allergen reduction, and health attributes of their unit, but there was no reliable test method of evaluating these claims. Carpet industry testing revealed that some vacuum cleaners making these filtration claims removed very little soil. In essence a vacuum cleaner that removes no soil, filters everything that is removed, right? Wow- that’s 100% filtration effectiveness, isn’t it? This statement may not be very far from the truth for some vacuum cleaners. Also, by placing a high filtration bag on an ordinary unit, filtration may be improved, but soil removal may be negatively affected. In some cases, these high filtration bags reduce airflow (suction) created by the vacuum cleaner motor, reduces soil removal, creates a back flow or resistance on the motor. The backflow resistance on the vacuum cleaner motor can shorten vacuum cleaner motor life. The CRI program established a maximum emission of 65 micrograms of particles per cubic meter of air. Current indoor standards have been set somewhere around 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This will help ensure that the vacuum cleaner operator is subjected to less dust than is normally found indoors.

Author: Michael Hilton

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