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


Bissell vacuums lose suction because of debris in the filters, a dislodged canister, or blocked brush roll. A clogged canister or vacuum bags, a faulty blower motor or a split hose can also stop a Bissell vacuum from suctioning.

More than 40 million vacuums are bought every year in the U.S., most of which are upright models, like most of the Bissell’s. And like all other vacuums, Bissell vacuums can lose their suction.

In this troubleshooting guide, we take a close look at why Bissell vacuum cleaners stop suctioning. There’s also steps on 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 your floor and carpet. The suction draws in dust along with the air, which is then captured in the filter.

It’s normal for the filter to become clogged over time, and the more you vacuum, the faster it will become clogged.

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

A blocked filter reduces the vacuum’s efficiency, until it reaches the point that the vacuum stops working altogether.

Bissell vacuums have a few 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. 

Most models of Bissell vacuum cleaners have these filters, and one or all of them can be clogged at the one time.

Solution:

Since the dust trapped in the filters stops proper suctioning, a simple clean of these filters should fix the problem:

  • Turn the vacuum off, and remove the canister.
  • Separate the circular filters and check if there is any debris stuck inside. Then remove the pre-motor, post-motor, and built-in filter.
  • 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 model is bagless, it’s 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 from dirt, hair and debris building up. This debris can also stop the Bissell from suctioning effectively.

This problem is more likely to lower the amount of suction from your vacuum, but not stop it entirely.

Solution:

  • 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 dislodged dirt container

It’s fairly obvious that the dirt container or canister needs to be regularly emptied. A full dirt container will stop a Bissell vacuum from suctioning.

An incorrectly seated (or installed) container will also prevent suction as a proper seal has not been established.

Solution:

  • Remove the dirt canister and empty it
  • Rinse the canister before re-installing it, making sure it’s in correctly

4. Clogged Vacuum Bags

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

Solution:

  • If you notice your vacuum bag is full, remove it, empty it, and clean the vacuum.
  • For the vacuum to perform at its best, it’s 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.

Solution:

  • 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.

Solution:

There’s no option but replacement. However, vacuum motors are usually expensive and difficult to find. So in most cases, it’s better to replace the vacuum.

If your Bissell vacuum isn’t under warranty, it’s better to purchase a new one. 

7. Stuck Blower Wheel

If you’ve checked your bag/canister, filter and brush roll then it’s time to check the blower wheel. 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 because of corrosion.

Solution:

  • Try turning the wheel by hand. If it moves a little bit and then stops, there’s likely a blockage.
  • Remove the object, and the vacuum will start functioning normally.
  • If no object is present, then the wheel is working fine, and it’s 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 outside part for any deposits or blockages. 

Detach the hose from the vacuum and lay it down straight. Use a torch and look from one end of the hose to the other. If you don’t see the light beam on the opposite end, it means it’s blocked.

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

Solution

  • 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. 

Related Questions

Why Isn’t My Bissell Vacuum Brush 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 To Fix The Brush Roll on A 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 To 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. 

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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