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Tuesday

Steam Cleaning Equals Green Cleaning


We are starting to see a revolution in the cleaning world. Ten years ago terms like "Organic Cleaning" and "Green Cleaning" were rarely uttered. Today we have large merchandisers touting house brands with green and organic cleaning compounds. As a part of that shift, wise housekeepers are looking outside the box to the greenest cleaning option of all - steam cleaning.

The benefits of steam cleaning or vapour cleaning are easy to see. There are no chemical costs, steam cleaning eliminates chemical related allergy problems, and there are no harmful chemicals put back into the environment.

Some of the benefits steam cleaning are less obvious. For example, steaming eliminates scrubbing. Steam simply melts baked on grease on kitchen hoods, ovens, stoves, even bakery proofing racks! You just steam and wipe.

Also, steam sanitizes. Vapour steam at 120 degrees celcius (248 F) heat instantly kills bacteria and mold, reducing the spread of illnesses and infections.

Steam cleaning is the best environmental choice. With steam cleaning there are no by products produced, providing 100% protection for the eco-system and no chemicals are delivered into the water system. Steam Cleaning is Green Cleaning.

There are many steam cleaning products out there and it is important to be aware that not all steam cleaners are created equal. Prices range from the $49 drugstore variety handheld types to over $4000. The thing to bear in mind is that a small unit has to cool down and will probably only work for small 5 minute jobs. Also, smaller units tend not to put out enough steam volume to sanitize surfaces quickly. So, if you are thinking of going cheap, remember, there is nothing green about purchasing a poorly made product that is just going to end up in a landfill after a few years. I learned this the hard way having bought a low-cost Hoover model that quit on me after a few uses.

If you are serious about steam cleaning, make sure you get a model that you can fill on the fly. This means that you can add water to a holding tank without having to wait for the machine to cool down. A good quality Steam/Vapour Cleaner will have this feature allowing the operator to use it continuously for hours. Ideally, one should consider a commercial model like the Karcher DE4002 which provides continous use and sturdy design. This model is made in Germany and only cost $1100. It comes with all sorts of attachments and will give the operator year and years of chemical-free cleaning.

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Friday

Is Dyson the Best Vacuum? Top Ten reasons NOT to Buy a Dyson.

Dyson, a very popular new vacuum brand is advertised as being unique because of superior design features and filtration qualities. It is also rumoured that Dyson spent over 200 million dollars launching their vacuum in the United States - over ten times the highest annual budget of Hoover.

Having a fair amount of experience with this "revolutionary" vacuum, I have a few complaints. Having put these questions directly to dyson representatives, they have yet to give me more than a canned speach about James Dyson's 5000 prototypes and 'round the clock testing. So, if anyone is interested, here are my ten complaints.
By the way, these comments apply primarily to the upright models.

1. They are useless on bare floors. The suction is poorly chanelled on one side of the vacuum only, there is no rubber strips or brushes channelling dirt, the opening is too large, and the spindly little roller brush collects dust bunnies. If you try to pick up sand, it will smear it around.

2. The extension hose always wants to collapse when you are using it, making one feel as if he taking a cat for a walk on a leash in the rain. Should you be using the hose and be unlucky enough to suck up something that clogs hose, you will experience the body of the vacuum come flying at you and crashing into you.

3. Everytime you use it, you have to dump it. This means that you get an opportunity to breathe some of the most disgusting and polluted air you have ever breathed in your life. This is a common complaint for bagless vacuums. In fact, filter bags were an INNOVATION in vacuum cleaner technology! The first vacuums to be made were bagless. Bags were invented to contain the dirt. Today, a good vacuum cleaner will offer fleece filtration bags that seal before you lift them out of the vacuum, containing all allergens and contaminants. If you have asthma or allergies, please pay attention to this. YOU DO NOT WANT A BAGLESS VACUUM. Hepa Shmepa! If have to dump and clean out the dirt you have already lost the air quality battle.

4. Dysons have plastic wheels not rubber ones. They should not be run over wood floors.

5. Dysons are extremely noisy. I heard a story once that the marketing executives at Hoover once did some research into making quieter vacuums. It was found that the perception of vacuum power was associated with noise and that people would think that if the vacuum was quiet, it wasn't powerful. I think Dyson has played on this misperception of the masses.

6. Dysons are extremely heavy and akward to use.

7. Dyson has no warranty service centres(in Canada). This tells us that service outside of warranty will be expensive or non-existent.

8. Almost all maker's of wool carpets do not recommend using a Dyson to clean wool carpets. The stiff brush and non-variable suction combine to shear the top suface off the carpet, filling the collection bin with carpet fluff. Some of you may already know what I'm talking about.

9. The final HEPA filter is not replaceable. They claim this filter is good for the life of the vacuum. Conversely, this means the vacuum is good for the life of the vacuum. If a filter is filtering something then it needs to be replacable.

10. Dyson loses suction. There is design flaw where one of the removable ducts doesn't always seal when you put it back in. This can be very frustrating because it's really not obvious where the problem is.

I hope this has been helpful for anyone considering buying a Dyson. Please remember to be suspicious of any company that spends more money telling people about it's research and development than on the actual research and development. Now you know where most of your $500 went.

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Why does the Dirt Finder Light on my Hoover Vacuum always stay red?

Some Hoover vacuums are outfitted with an "Embedded Dirt Finder" system. The light stays red while dirt is being picked up and then turns green when there is no more dirt being picked up. This is accomplished by the placement of a small microphone like sensor in the ducting just before the dirt enters the bag.

Unfortunately, after some time. The sensor stops reading correctly and the light always stays red. One can fix this problem by following these steps.

1. Unplug the vacuum
2. Remove the bolts holding the handle on and remove the handle
3. Remove the screws holding on the rear part of the housing that covers the hose inlet on the back of the vacuum.
4. Remove the hose inlet and the sensor with black and blue wires attached to it.
5. Vigorously clean between the two contacts on the sensor or even scrap away dust and dirt with the edge of a screw driver.
6. Before reassembling the vacuum, plug it in and turn it on. After a few seconds, the red light should go green.
7. Re-assemble the vacuum if the light goes green, otherwise repeat steps 5 and 6 until it does.

I hope this helps. Staring at the red light can be very irritating if you've become addicted to staring at the green light while you vacuum.

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Monday

Why is my Hoover Steamvac not Sucking up any Water? Tips on troubleshooting a broken Hoover Steamvac


Having several years experience diagnosing and repairing Hoover Steamvacs, I have come to two conclusions. First, Hoover makes an excellent carpet cleaning systems. Second, most breakdowns are easily diagnosed and often times the problem can be corrected without having to bring it down to the vacuum store for repair. So before jump in the car and head down to Clean Machines, go through this checklist and you could save yourself both time and money! (NB: The tips below do not apply to the Steamvac Duo, the Steamvac Agility, or the Steamvac Dual V or V2 models. The models involved are the models in the range F5815 to F5914-950.)

Problem #1 – My Steamvac is not Sucking!

If your Hoover Steamvac was working properly and suddenly it is not sucking any water, nine times out of ten, the culprit is the lid on the lower recovery tank. The lid on the lower tank (or dirty water tank) needs to hinge at the front and snap down at the back in order to creat a proper seal. If the lid snaps on but is not locked on at the front, you will not get any suction. Simply take the lid off, and ensure that when you put it back on, it must hinge on the front tabs of the tank.

Problem #2 – My Steamvac is still not Sucking!

Right now you are thinking that you shouldn’t have let your brother borrow your Steamvac. And you are right, because he used the hose attachment and returned it with the hose still attached to the front of the tank (some models only). Now when you try to use it there isn’t any suction. In this case, you are missing your tank duct. On models where the stair/upholstery hose attaches to the front of the recovery tank, one must remove a square plastic piece in order to attach the hose. This square plastic tank duct must be replaced before the Steamvac will operate properly in the upright position. So call you brother on the phone tell him to find it, or call me at the number at the top of the screen to order one.

Problem # 3 – My Steamvac isn’t sucking very well and the brushes are spinning slowly

Most the likely, the culprit here is under the recovery tank. Standing behind the steamvac with the lower tank off, to the right and front you will notice a round duct opening about 2 inches in diameter. This should have a rubber seal on it. If it is missing, look under the hood of the steamvac it may have fallen forward there. Otherwise, give me a call to get another one.

Problem #4 – My Steamvac brushes are not spinning or are spinning very slowly

Believe it or not they may just need to be cleaned! You can remove the rack of brushes by pinching the tabs on either side and pulling it out. The plastic is clear so you can see if the brushes and gears are gummed up with hair and carpet fibres. Rinsing usually works best. There are two more things to check if this doesn’t solve the problem. First, check that the switch for the brushes is set to high. Second, look under the clear plastic piece near the switch (it is removable). There is a small screen that collects lint and hair (like a dryer screen!). This is the air intake for the turbine that drives the brushes. Clean it off and your back in business.

Problems #5, #6, #7 – My Hoover Steamvac doesn’t turn on, leaks, or is really noisy

Unfortunately, these problems are usually a bit more complicated and need professional service. At Clean Machines we offer a free estimate/repair ceiling service which gives you assurance that repair bills don’t get out of hand. Please visit us at our store at 111 West 2nd Ave in Vancouver for all your Hoover Steamvac carpet shampoo, stain removers, and free tips on cleaning. And remember, the next time your brother wants to borrow your Steamvac, send him down to Clean Machines to rent one from us instead.

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Wednesday

Vacuum tips – Broken Belt? Why does it happen?

Certainly one of the most common cause of vacuum breakdown, the broken belt is has been the bane of vacuum cleaners since the first vacuum with a “beater bar” or agitator was made.

Often mistakenly called a fan belt, the agitator belt of your vacuum doesn’t cause a fan to spin, rather it makes a roller with rows of brushes (or brush strips) spin. These brushes “beat” or agitate the carpet surface, causing dust particles in the carpet fibres to become instantly airborne. Then these dust particles are immediately sucked up into the vacuum cleaner.

1. Overloading is the Culprit

The vacuum belt is looped around this brush roller and is driven to spin by a shaft extending from a motor. A vacuum belt is a little bit like the mechanical version of an electric fuse. When a circuit is overloaded, the fuse will blow. Likewise, when the brush roller of your vacuum is overloaded the belt will “burn” or break. Often the result is a strong smell of burnt rubber, and sometimes even a cloud of black smoke!

People have often told me that they threw out their old vacuum because it “blew up” when if they knew a little more they would have realized that the problem could be remedied with a part that only cost a few dollars.

2. Something Caught in the Roller

So why does a belt break anyways? Well there are several possibilities. First of all, the most common situation is something like this. Suppose you are vacuuming your home and letting your mind wander, and boom! Your belt breaks. It looks like you tried to vacuum your shoe, or a toy, or even worse the cord of your vacuum cleaner! The beater bar has seized up but the motor is still spinning. The shaft of the motor now heats up as it spins hundreds of time each second against a jammed belt. Within a second or two, the belt has melted at the point where it contacts the shaft and it’s all over. You need a new belt.

3. Height Adjustment Set Too Low

The second possibility is also related to heat and friction. It is the problem of setting the brush roller too low for the carpet surface. This is a big one, especially with the Hoover Windtunnel models. In these instances, you’ll have a nice thick carpet and you want to really get it nice and clean. So you set the height adjustment to the very lowest level. What happens here? The brush is now working too hard against the carpet and starts to spin more slowly. Meanwhile the shaft of the motor is still spinning at full speed. Soon the shaft starts to heat up but instead of the belt breaking, the slow rise in temperature cause it heat up and stretch. As the belt stretches, it starts to slip and eventually it just slips on one spot and the belt burns through. When this happens, you go to your neighborhood vacuum store and get into an argument with the clerk because he is trying to sell you a belt that is half the size of the one that broke. Of course the store clerk is selling you the right belt because your belt has stretched to twice the size before it broke.

4. Using the Wrong Belt or a Low Quailty Belt

A third a common reason for broken belts is that you are using the wrong one or one you bought at a dollar store. These belts usually look like they snapped not like they melted. Make sure you get the right belt by talking to someone who knows what they are talking about and avoid buying a vacuum belt anywhere they don’t fix vacuums. You might save three dollars but you’ll still have a problem.

5. Hidden Roller Damage

Finally, a more complicated problem. There may be something wrong with the brush roller of your vacuum. Brush rollers wear out, melt, the bearings break down, and suffer all kinds of abuse. The result is that they don’t spin properly or freely and this can result in the situation of a belt burning. This is a little more serious an usually will require you to leave your vacuum with a repair person for a couple of days. But even then, this kind of repair is almost always a cost effective maintenance type of procedure.

6. Vacuums that Have Belts that Never Break

I should add that not all vacuums have belts and some have belt systems that ensure the belt never breaks such as the Karcher CV301 and CV382 Commercial uprights. The tip here is to note that if you smell burnt rubber then you are probably having some kind of belt problem with your vacuum cleaner. And the next time you puchase a vacuum cleaner ask about the belt. You may pay a little more up front for one that saves you more in repair bills later on.

Feel free to come down and see us at Clean Machines and we will be happy to help you out with your vacuum whatever make or model you have.

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