Why Your Bissell Vacuum Isn’t Suctioning – Troubleshooting And Repair

Bissell vacuums lose suction because of debris in the filters, an incorrectly seated canister, blocked brush roll, or clogged bag or canister. Clogged vacuum bags, a faulty blower motor or a split hose can also cause a Bissell vacuum to not suction.

More than 40 million vacuums are bought every year in the U.S., most of which are upright models. Because of their powerful suction, variety in design, and portability, Bissell vacuums are one of the best vacuums available. However, Bissell vacuums can often lose their suction.

In this article, we take a close look at the working of Bissell vacuum cleaners, focusing on troubleshooting tips for when your vacuum stops suctioning. We also discuss some of the frequently asked questions including the types of Bissell vacuums available, how to fix the brush roll and reset your Bissell vacuum.

Reasons Why Your Bissell Vacuum Isn’t Suctioning

Here are all the reasons why your Bissell vacuum isn’t suctioning:

1. Clogged Filter

Bissell vacuum cleaners have a filter that traps dirt from the floor and carpet. The suction draws in dust along with the air and is captured in the filter.

If the filter is not maintained on a regular basis, it reduces the vacuum’s efficiency, and the vacuum eventually stops working properly.

In fact, dirty filters are the number 1 reason why Bissell vacuums lose their suction.

Bissell vacuums contain multiple different types of filters:

  • Inner Circular Filters: Attached and located immediately after the canister.
  • Outer Circular Filters: Attached and located immediately after the canister.
  • Pre-motor Filter: Located right before air flows through the motor. 
  • Post-motor Filter: This filter is placed after the motor when the pre-motor filter is not sufficient. Although it is placed inward, it can be detached from the housing and is, therefore, easy to clean.
  • Built-in Filter: To ensure complete and efficient cleanliness, Bissell vacuums have a third filter present in the housing. 

All models of Bissell vacuum cleaners contain the above mentioned layers of filters. These five filters, in combination, guarantee that every tiny particle of dust is removed from the surface. The particles are removed through diffusion, impaction, and interception.


Since the dust trapped in the filters leads to improper suction, cleaning the filters will restore the vacuum’s suction.

  • Turn the vacuum off, and remove the canister.
  • Separate the circular filters and check if there is any debris stuck inside. Then proceed to the pre-motor, post-motor, and built-in filter. Detach them from the machine.
  • Use your finger or a soft brush to remove dust, debris and stones.
  • Wash the filters with some warm water (Do NOT wash the HEPA filter) and leave them to dry for at least 48 hours before using the vacuum again.
  • Bissell recommends replacing the filters every 6 months.
  • If your vacuum does not have a bag, it is better to clean the filter once a week. [Bissell specific cleaning formulas are for stain and odor removal from different surfaces, and cannot be used for cleaning the vacuum]

2. Blocked Brush Roll

The brush roll on Bissell vacuums can stop spinning due to dirt and debris build up. This debris can also stop the Bissell from suctioning effectively.


  • Unplug the vacuum and remove the brush roll.
  • Gently feel around for any debris – remove it.
  • Wipe out the brush roll housing area.
  • Replace the brush roll.

3. Full or incorrectly seated dirt container

A dirt container or canister must be regularly emptied. A full dirt container will prevent a Bissell vacuum from suctioning. An incorrectly seated (or installed) container will also prevent suction as a proper seal has not been established.


  • Remove the dirt canister and empty it
  • Rinse the canister before re-installing it, ensuring it is in place correctly

4. Clogged Vacuum Bags

The build-up of dust or other deposits in the vacuum bag is a common reason behind suction issues in a Bissell vacuum. Of course this only applies to Bissell models that contain bags, such as the PowerForce.


  • If you notice your vacuum bag is full, remove it, empty it, and wash.
  • For the vacuum to perform optimally, it is also better to replace the bag every three months.

5. Incorrect settings

Depending on your model, the settings of your vacuum cleaner can prevent proper suction. This is particularly true for the Pet Hair Eraser range.


  • Turn the Vacuum Suction Knob (or similar) towards “Floor Suction.” 

6. Faulty Motor

Faulty motors produce a characteristic sound, and the problem is usually easily recognizable. It often sounds like the vacuum is working extra hard, although there is no suction.

Apart from the noise, bad motors with corroded coils also start to give off a burning smell. 

Since the entire vacuum is based on the motor, any issue with it eventually affects suction.


There is no option but replacement. However, vacuum motors are usually expensive and difficult to find, it is better to replace the vacuum entirely.

if your Bissell vacuum is not under warranty, it is better to purchase a new one. 

7. Stuck Blower Wheel

The blower wheel is a common thing you should look into if your vacuum is not producing enough suction. Stones or other small hard objects (debris) block and prevent the blower wheel from rotating properly.

Sometimes, in older models, the wheel also gets jammed due to corrosion.


  • Try turning the wheel by hand. If it moves some distance and then stops, there likely is an obstruction.
  • Remove the object, and the vacuum will start functioning normally.
  • If no object is present, then the wheel is working fine, and it is the blower motor that you need to replace. Depending on your model, it may be cheaper to replace your entire vacuum.

8. Obstruction or Split in Hose

The hose is an essential part of the vacuum. It connects to a port on the vacuum and sucks air from the other end. It has an outer and an inner part, and you can easily check the external portion for any deposits. 

Detach the hose from the device and lay it down straight. Use a torch and look from one end of the hose to the other. If you do not see the light beam on the opposite end, it indicates an obstruction. 

For a split, carefully run your hand and eye over the hose looking for any cracks. You can also do this while the vacuum is operating to feel for any airflow through a split in the hose.


  • Insert a blunt object in the cylinder (e.g. broom handle) to remove small clogs.
  • In case of a split hose, you will need to replace the vacuum hose for proper suction. 

A disconnected hose also prevents effective suction, so make sure you connect the hose properly to the vacuum port when replacing it. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most common questions asked about Bissell vacuums:

Why is My Bissell Vacuum Brush Not Spinning?

The brush on Bissell vacuums can stop spinning due to dirt and debris accumulation, a faulty belt or worn-out bristles.  Repeated water contact can also lead to damage that impairs brush rotation.

To help with cleaning, especially on rugs, carpets, and other rough surfaces, vacuum cleaners come with a brush. This brush spins and rolls, and is located on the underside of the machine. If your Bissell vacuum brush fails to spin, here’s how to fix it.

  • When the brush rolls on the carpet, debris, particularly hair wraps, can get rolled onto it. This is one of the most common reasons that a brush starts acting up. Thoroughly clean the bristles and remove every small particle.
  • Remove the brush roll and check for the belt. Try rotating the brush by hand. If the brush feels stuck, the belt may be broken. In this case, you need to replace the worn-out brush and belt with a new one to ensure effective cleaning.
  • Bristles tend to soften after repeated use. This also prevents proper rotation of the brush that is required to maintain cleanliness and remove dirt. Replacing the brush is the only option for damaged bristles.
  • Water can also harm the brush, so we advise preventing the vacuum from any mechanical damage through water exposure to prolong its optimal lifespan.

Following these tips will help fix the brush. However, if the problem still persists, it is better to contact Bissell to look into possible technical errors. 

How Do I Fix The Brush Roll on My Bissell Vacuum?

Brush roll problems on Bissell vacuums mostly stem from debris accumulation. Cleaning the brush thoroughly is sufficient to fix it. Replacing the belt if damaged also helps the brush resume spinning. In case of a loose brush, align its caps with the slits in the vacuum and push until inserted completely.

A rolling brush is essential for proper cleaning of the room, and unlike a motor, it is quite easy to troubleshoot. The most common issue preventing rotation of the brush is clogging, and cleaning the brush helps resolve the issue. 

It is impossible to remove stuck debris and hair locks using just hands or a dry cloth. Therefore, it is better to use another brush or a blunt yet stiff and thin object to clean the bristles. 

Once done, wash it with warm water and let it dry. Reinstall it in the vacuum, and you are good to go. As a preventive measure, it is better to clean the brush after every use.

If cleaning does not help, remove the brush and the belt from the vacuum and inspect for any splits or holes. If you observe any damage to the belt, replace it with a new one.

The brush does not rotate properly if it comes loose. To attach it back in the vacuum, align its caps with the slots in the machine and insert it carefully. Turn the machine on, and the brush should start spinning.

How Do I Reset a Bissell Vacuum?

All Bissell vacuums come with a reset button at the lower end. To reset, simply unplug the device and press the button. Afterward, wait for half an hour before connecting the vacuum to a power outlet. This completes the reset process.

The resetting process for all Bissell vacuums is the same. The main purpose of resetting the device is to fix the brush. To do so, all the models come with a reset button. 

Make sure the device is unplugged. Lay the vacuum down horizontally and locate the reset button at the lower end. Press it down for 10 seconds and then release. 

Wait for 30 minutes before turning it on again. 

Types of Bissell Vacuum

Bissell vacuums have a modern design, with each model offering a specific feature, for example, carpet cleaning, steam, or cordless connection.

The types of Bissell vacuum available include:

CROSSWAVE: Includes three different modes of cleaning for different kinds of surfaces. 

CROSSWAVE CORDLESS: Allows cordless cleaning for all floors especially hard wooden surfaces.

EX675 ROBOT VACUUM CLEANER: An automatic cleaner suitable for rugs, tiles, wooden and hard floors.

FEATHERWEIGHT PRO ECO: Extremely lightweight especially designed for wooden surfaces and hard floors. This is not suitable for rugs.

ICON 25: Powerful cordless vacuum of a super slim design ideal for carpets. 

ICON 21V: A multi-surface cordless vacuum cleaner of 21V.

MULTIREACH ACTIVE 21V (SPECIAL EDITION): Ensures no hair wrap and is appropriate for use on rugs and other rough surfaces. 

MULTI CLEAN LI-ION HAND VAC 14.4V: A cleaner suitable for hard and wooden floors. Easy to carry because of its lightweight.

MULTIREACH ESSENTIAL 14.4V: A 14.4V vacuum with a sleek design only for wooden and hard floors. Pair it with Bissell cleaning solutions for a bright, odorless, floor.

MULTIREACH ESSENTIAL 18V: A multipurpose vacuum best for upholstery, rugs, staircases, etc.

MULTIREACH ACTIVE 21V: Ensures effective cleaning and powerful suction with a battery of 21V, perfect for rugs as the design prevents any hair wraps. 

MULTIREACH ACTIVE PET 21V: Efficient pet hair cleaning, the design ensures no hair wrap. 

MULTIREACH ION XL 25.2V: Powerful cordless suctioning for 50 hours. 

MULTI CLEAN W&D DRUM: Slightly heavy yet multipurpose vacuum cleaner that makes it easy to clean in small corners.

PET HAIR ERASER HANDHELD: A portable vacuum for removing pet hair. 

PET HAIR ERASER ION 14.4V: Offers cordless operation on rugs, hard floors, stairs, and cars. It comes with a motorized brush roll that is highly effective in removing pet hairs from the rough rugs. 

MULTIREACH ION XL 36V: A special two-in-one device that allows both handheld and floor standing controls, suitable for all surfaces. 

MULTI CLEAN, GARAGE PRO: Guarantees efficient cleaning in small and large areas alike, but a bit heavy. 

SMART CLEAN: Suitable for all kinds of floors ranging from cars to carpets, staircase, garage, etc. 

SMART CLEAN COMPACT: An advanced version of SMART CLEAN and offers more powerful suction suitable for all kinds of floors ranging from cars to carpets, staircases, garages, etc. 

SMART CLEAN PET: Particularly designed to remove pet hair from all floors and surfaces. 

VAC & STEAM: Gives both vacuum and steam cleaning, suitable for tiles, wooden surfaces, and hard floors.

If you are looking for a vacuum that is easy to clean, Plentiful Air has a complete guide available here.


Bissell vacuums offer a smooth and easy user experience, but whenever posed with a vacuum suction problem check for clogging in the filter and vacuum bag, and clean them if needed.

Remember to let all the parts dry before reassembling the system. If there is no clogging, check if the hose is inserted properly and if there is any obstruction in the cylinder. 

Afterward, proceed to the motor and blower to check for possible damage. This will help troubleshoot any issues with the machine at home without technical help. 

Theresa Orr

Theresa Orr holds a PhD in Earth Science and specializes in determining past climates from rocks using geochemistry. Her passion for clean water, soil and air drives her to provide easy to understand information for everyone to read.

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