The most important step in any carpet restorative cleaning function is proper initial vacuuming. There are many different styles of vacuums that offer highly effective means of dry soil removal. To ensure that you are using the most effective equipment, look for Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) approved Green Label vacuums. CRI has an industry standard testing program for all cleaning equipment that checks for minimum performance levels for dirt removal, filtration and containment.
Independent tests have recently shown that efficiency of retained dry soil using a suction only backpack vacuum is increased from 55% to 91% simply by slowing down the vacuuming process. High traffic areas especially entryways and main hallways should be vacuumed at a rate of 0.5 ft/sec going forward and backward twice for maximum effectiveness. Low traffic areas are best cleaned using a rate of 1.8 ft/sec going forward and backward once.
Residential floors with cut pile carpet are best cleaned using an upright or power brush with a rotating head that stir up particles deeply penetrated in carpet fibers.
Most upright vacuums are equipped with a rotating power head that is driven by either a one or two motor system. In single motor units, one motor is used to provide suction and run the power head. Two motor units offer a dedicated motor to both the suction and power head functions. This provides added benefits of higher performance and better efficiency. Also looking for units that maximize filtration will ensure that dirt removed by the vacuum remains in the vacuum without being reintroduced back in the environment due to ineffective filtration. Machines marked with the CRI Green Label serial tag make this search easy.
Low pile or commercial style carpets are ideal for suction only style backpack vacuums that provide exceptional levels of dirt removal with the added benefit of increased mobility and versatility.
Backpack vacuums are simply designed with very few moving parts. This minimizes overall repair costs and downtime by not having a lot of parts that break or need replacement. Units with ergonomically designed back plates automatically transfer the weight of the vacuum optimally to the waist which is the strongest point in the body. Look for units that have multiple adjustment points that offer flexibility to fit multiple users. Again, be sure to look for units with the CRI Green Label to ensure maximum performance.
As with an automobile, commitment to upkeep (e.g., filter changing, motor maintenance) is critical to any vacuum. Change vacuum filters regularly (when bags are half full or before). Fresh bags clean better and optimize labor, keep air moving freely to prevent motors from overheating, and lighten / reduce the push-pull effort required by upright operators.
Check beater brushes and replace bristles periodically to ensure maximum sweeping / cleaning effectiveness.
Other brushes need regular attention too: especially motor brushes. Not “brushes” in the usual sense, these small blocks of carbon lightly press or brush against the rotating part of the vacuum’s electric motor transferring electricity. They eventually wear out.
Why bother to replace these? It can make the difference between 1400 or more hours of motor life and 900 hours or less; extending the operating cycle of the vacuum motor by 50% or more.
One manufacturer suggests motor brush changing after the first 800 hours, then again after an additional 400 hours, and again after the next 200 hours.
How to keep up? Determine how many hours the vacuum is used daily, then create a schedule for motor brush replacement: a task best handled by a qualified service department or mechanically inclined user.
Questions to ask: How easy is the vacuum to repair? How accessible are the parts that wear out? What type of warranty does the manufacturer provide? Parts and labor? Lifetime warranty on what? What does the fine print say?
Call the manufacturer’s customer service department to “test drive” the support provided. Ask about turnaround time and cost for repairs or part replacements, availability of high-wear parts and other service points.
Cost of ownership plainly involves more than a vacuum’s sticker price. Consider performance, durability, downtime, and other issues described above.
Keeping costs in line also involves properly scheduling and work loading the cleaning. Plan your route to minimize the need to plug / unplug and backtracking. Perform the cleaning when areas are least used and most accessible. Factor in the information above and you’ll likely find your vacuum is a sound vehicle that helps you arrive at an effective pre-vacuuming program as painlessly as possible.