Vacuums Suck and Cars Don’t!

(PART TWO of a short series using cars to understand vacuums)

We hope you enjoyed last week’s article “If cars were built like vacuums – we’d probably be dead.” If you missed it or didn’t finish reading it CLICK HERE to catch up!

So far, we learned that cars have significantly improved in critical areas like comfort, safety and fuel efficiency over the years. However, the mass majority of popular vacuum cleaners have suffered a serious decline in quality and performance to consumer demand for low prices and weight!

Now that you’re warmed up to my train of thought – using something familiar like cars to better understand your vacuumlet’s explore another commonly misunderstood factor: PERFORMANCE QUALITY. Following are 3 key factors to consider….
Every machine is designed to do a certain job, or set of jobs. To share the same classification, machines must obviously share specific performance criteria: Calculators have to calculate; Toasters must toast; Cars need to move, steer and stop; Vacuums cleaners have to suck and hold dirt in side. If a machine doesn’t perform the expected tasks, we either consider it broken, or we just have to find a new name for it!

Yet within those categories of machine, we often see numerous variants, brands and types. Sure, shapes and colors may vary, but most often a machine will be separated from others of its kind because of a claim to perform somewhat differently. It’s important to look carefully at these differences in claims, as it may drastically affect the machine’s ability to perform the tasks we expect.

The first part of what makes up a machine’s quality of performance depends on how well it is tailored to the task at hand. Do you have the right “tool” for the job? You can’t roast a small chicken in a regular, sliced-bread toaster. I don’t expect you’d buy a Toyota Prius to go off-roading in the mountains. And I would hope you’d know better than to buy an upright vacuum with a non-stopping brushroller if you have only hardwood floors.

The second factor falls in the realm of finer details. Two widgets may claim to do the exact same task, but have very different prices. Why? Quality is usually the one of the main reasons, yet this can be cocktail of several factors. “Better” quality usually indicates a products ease of use during the performance of its given task. Also, the better product can usually be expected to last longer or break less, providing a greater value for your dollar over time. Perhaps this product also does the particular task “better” than the other: Computes faster; Toasts more evenly; Is safer in a crash; Allows less dust escapes into the air, etc. Esthetics often plays a role too. Ultimately you need to decide how much those subtle factors affect the completion of your task, whether you feel they are worth the price, or which is just a better fit for your personal preferences. So if the next vacuum you buy is only $50, that’s fine – It may be just right for your situation. What I hope is that you will NOT BE FOOLED by the commercials and colorful packaging into believing that it will last very long or is “great for allergy sufferers!”

This brings me to the third aspect of discussion: How to maintain your equipment’s level of performance. Everything has an “Achilles Heel.” You wouldn’t dream of buying a car, whether a Hyundai or a Hummer, and never change the oil or brakes…You’d either blow up the motor or get killed in an accident! Similarly, you can’t buy a vacuum and not replace the bag or filter for 6 months without risking blowing up its motor, or you at least suffering a serious allergy attack! Just remember the KEY WORD: MAINTENANCE. All machines, especially those with moving parts, need it now and then! Otherwise, your car, vacuum, etc., cannot be expected to perform as well as it is intended to. You’ll need to understand what it takes to keep it going, and whether or not you’re willing and able to keep up with it!

At Queen Vacuum, we play “matchmaker” all day! It’s our job to listen and match each customer up with the right vacuum for their specific needs. Sometimes it’s a $69 Dirt Devil, sometimes it’s a $699 Miele. When you know a lot about a given type of product it’s easy to spot the differences between seemingly similar items. You can discern the main criteria: WHAT it does, HOW WELL it does it, and HOW LONG will it last. Most importantly, you can translate those differences into the potential benefits or detriments in your experience with that product. When you don’t know much about something you’re looking to buy, please do your research. But if you just can’t wrap your mind around the differences in the products you want – have an expert explain it. Or try the old trick of relating it to something you already understand well like food, electronics or (our favorite) cars!

If Cars were built like most Vacuums these days… we’d probably be dead

(PART ONE of a short series using cars to understand vacuums)

We use “car analogies” a lot in our vacuum store. Perhaps it’s because we know so much about them. John was a high-end automotive technician for 15 years before taking over the vacuum shop. I am a graphic designer by trade, but was raised with a father who was into hot rods (I was in diapers sitting in the engine compartment of Dad’s ’72 Camaro.) Most people “get” cars too. But the average person doesn’t really “get” vacuums.

Understandably, most folks don’t really care about vacuums so they’ve not been paying close attention. Yet as consumers, we’ve “asked” for changes in our vacuum products that, albeit unintentionally, yielded some pretty nasty side effects. The consequence of this is that the majority of vacuum cleaners have been allowed to devolve into a substandard variety over the years, right under our noses….

MOST VACUUMS ARE BUILT SO POORLY THESE DAYS THAT IF THE AUTO COMPANIES HAD STOOPED TO THE SAME MANUFACTURING STANDARDS AS EXIST FOR MOST VACUUMS – WE’D PROBABLY GET KILLED IN MINOR ACCIDENTS, OR CHOKE TO DEATH ON VEHICHLES’ EMISSIONS. While cars have generally and steadily improved over the years, vacuums made some forward progress and then began to show a sickening decline.

Now, I know that “improve” is a subjective word. But for the purpose of this article, I am referring to increases in performance of a machine’s essential functions. Auto manufacturers (in some cases under the guidance of Federal regulation) have dramatically improved the automobile’s ability to: Protect occupants in a crash; Operate cabin controls; Steer and stop easily; Sputter and stall less; Pollute the air less. Thus, even the most basic models of car are typically equipped with features only luxury cars offered back in the day: Crumple zones, seatbelts and airbags; Power steering, windows and locks; Fuel injection; Anti-lock brakes; Catalytic converters, et al.

For a vacuum, I consider “improvement” a performance increase in its main functions: Debris extraction across various surfaces, dust capture (filtration), ease of use and maintenance, and working without breakage over time. Yet it seems that the vacuum industry’s attempt to improve some features caused some serious, fundamental problems in other areas…

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE:
– When cars got faster and more powerful, safety upgrades had to be made to compensate. Brakes had to be bulked up to help the stop from those higher speeds. Bodies and frames had to be re-engineered to withstand higher-speed crashes. True improvements!

-When vacuums got more powerful, in most cases the rubber drive belts were not upgraded to withstand the added speed and friction. With four times the electrical amperage and motor speed transferred to that small strip of rubber, that’s why your vacuum’s belt lasts only about a quarter of the time it used to. Also, more power equals motor, bigger motor means more weight. To compensate for the added weight, some vacuums’ bodies were made thinner and lighter. These new poor-quality, ill-fitting plastic bodies contribute to severe dust leakage that spews dust back into the air (gross!), as well as the vacuum’s internal motor compartment. That results in a dusty house, and a motor that shorts out prematurely. Many vacuums gained the potential to pick up more dust and dirt, and then lost the ability to contain it properly. What started as an upgrade, resulted in a downgrade! That is NOT a true improvement. It’s like having a “better” bucket that holds more water, but has a leaky hole in the bottom of it.

The good news is that there are a few phenomenal vacuums made today! Sebo and Miele are two brands, both made in Germany, that offer much higher standards than the mass-marketed brands. We sought them out specifically to carry in our store. You could say they are the vacuum equivalent or Mercedes-Benz and BMW cars. They both found ways to improve suction, versatility, ease-of-use and lifespan without sacrificing filtration or other critical functions. Like a Mercedes commercial I just saw on TV….they “don’t do just one thing well, they do everything well.” No, you can’t expect to find a Miele at Costco or Wal-Mart. And yes, it will cost more up-front than a Eureka, and may be a few pounds heavier. But the benefits dramatically outweigh those minor “negatives.” With rare exception, you really do get what you pay for.

 

So in conclusion…I am NOT saying that you will die if you buy a lousy vacuum. What I AM trying to do is make you MORE AWARE of the (poor) quality of the majority of vacuum products on the market, and how this affects your life. We’re talking about dirt; microscopic particles. They’re small, “out of sight out of mind,” not the top priority in your life…until the vacuum breaks, something starts to smell, or someone gets sick. We are all targets of clever marketing. Other industries like food, automotive and pharmaceutical, are highly regulated regarding production standards and the claims they make to consumers. Vacuums…ehhh…not so much. Just be aware that the majority of the vacuum cleaners on the mass market do not perform as well as you may think, or as advertised. Gauge your expectations accordingly, or consult an expert on how to pick a vacuum that’s truly right for you, and get more for your money!

Epic VAC Battles of History!

 Can you see past the fierce advertising and find what’s really best?

“Who will win? You decide!”

I don’t watch much TV, but boy do I love YouTube! BTW – hopefully you’ve checked out our QueenVac YouTube channel! It’s a little rough in its infancy, but we’re always improving and our gears are always turning with new ideas. Even though I try to keep my YouTube consumption reigned in I can’t resist parodies and generally well-made videos. They’re so creative, inspiring, and of course, entertaining. All too often I pause to jot notes as my mind distorts the video into some vacuum-related concept! I’ve developed a similar annoying habit with songs and commercials. In any case, one of my favorite channels, ERB, combines history and music into hysterically funny parodies called “Epic Rap Battles of History.” 

 

ERB videos include match-ups like Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs; Wright Brothers vs Mario Brothers; Myth Busters Vs Ghost Busters; Darth Vader vs Hitler. See the pattern?  How could I stop my mind from imagining blockbuster battles like Hoover Windtunnel vs Eureka Whirlwind; James Dyson vs David Oreck; Dyson Animal vs Miele Cat & Dog? Oh goodness, the endless possibilities! But considering that videos (even as rudimentary as mine) take days to make, you’ll have to settle for this article and a few photoshopped graphics to envision these rivalries…for now!

James Dyson
James Dyson

The major vacuum

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manufacturers do a pretty fierce job of “battling it out” in the real world. The money some brands spend on advertising probably tops the GDP of a small nation. Others prefer to invest far more in product development and quality manufacturing than on ads. Regardless, it’s easy for a consumer to get lost in the hype; mis-led into buying products that are a poor fit for their needs, or don’t do not perform like they seem on TV.

 

So how do you navigate this “battleground” of vacuum advertising to get the product that’s right for you and will be worth your investment?
Here are a few simple tips:

1)   Look at the key words in the advertising claim. Are the terms clearly definable and provable? Do they even seem like an accurate method for measuring the vacuum’s cleaning performance? If it seems too good to be true, it just might be.

2)    Investigate instances of repair. Check with experts like us; a business that sells and repairs vacuums. We are authorized for so many brands that we see how they hold up in real life and what types of issues they come in for under warranty. Online reviews can be helpful too, but look for ones that were written several months (or even years after it was bought.) Many vacs work just fine out of the box and for a month or so. But often they break, fail or require more maintenance than you’re willing to perform.

3)    Is it the correct format for your household? The demonstration of that snazzy bagless upright vacuum on QVC might have shown it making mincemeat of glitter and cereal crumbs on berber carpeting. But will that machine well suit your bare floors or shag area rugs? And although it looks so easy to empty that “convenient dirt bin,” can your allergic children tolerate the dust cloud left behind in the kitchen when you empty it at home?

So what are our lessons today? Let the manufacturers battle all they want. In fact, sit back and enjoy the show! Just don’t believe everything you see on TV or a vacuum’s packaging (at least not without doing a little research first!) If you rely on an advertised feature working exactly as claimed, please consult an expert (like us) to make sure that it can live up to your expectations. And someday soon you may even have the pleasure of watching our own “Epic VAC Battle” production on youTube!  We feel information should be administered honestly and fairly, yet with a healthy dose of humor! So we’re always excited to produce videos and articles that are not just educational, but quirky and fun. Please keep your suggestions coming for questions and topics and “contestants” you’d like us to feature. Now, go enjoy the shows!View our videos on YouTube

Epic RAP Battles
Since I’ve blatantly plagiarized their name, you should at least check out ERB’s YouTube channel! Warning – It’s addictive!

Beauty and the BEACH…How to prevent SAND from ruining your beautiful floors!

Sandy Feet

This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer – woo hoo!! So pick a sweet spot in the sand, slather on some sunblock and grab your umbrella drink. You’re about to learn some awesome tips for making your life a lot easier when you get home!
Sure you’re relaxing now…but you know your patience will come a little undone as you schlep home in heavy traffic trailing half the beach with you in your bags, towels and bikini bottoms!  IT will be in the car, the garage, in the bottom of the washing machine, all over the hard floors and deep in the carpet. That’s right… SAAAAAAAND!  

Ugh, now it’s time to make dinner. The kids are starving. You hastily shove everyone’s gritty gear in their respective places while the kids get washed and the BBQ heats up. As the Mr. flips some burgers you resolve to ditch the dusting of Sea Bright beach that’s invaded your bare dining room floor. You reach for your trusty Swiffer and get sweeping. 1-2-3 quick swipes…looking good…4-5… scccrrraaaappe…. kkkkkkk… AAAGGHH! What’s happening?!

That, my friend, was the telltale sound of a saturated Swiffer. In other words, the cleaning cloth filled up with all that grit to the point where it’s now acting like sandpaper – NOT
good for your floors! Furthermore, much of the sand will slip down into the cracks and crevices of the boards and the grout lines of tile.
A Swiffer or a sanding stick? Oh, who can tell?

Brooms and Swiffers have their place in the world, but it is NOT in-place of your vacuum cleaner. Simply put there is no better, safer, more effective way to remove fine dust, hair, crumbs and grit/dirt particles from your bare floors than vacuuming! Just make sure it’s the right kind of vacuum. Some are designed to clean only carpets and rugs or have attachments that most be switched around to work correctly.

Sand may indeed be beautiful and feel great between your toes, but have you ever asked your FLOORS how they feel? To your poor carpets and wood floors, sand is the enemy! We just learned how it can wreak havoc and dull wooden surfaces if not removed carefully. But did you also know that sand is destructive to your carpets and rugs?

Keep a spare little vacuum in your cabana, beach house or RV!

Sand is dense and quickly works its way into the deep recesses of carpeting. Ever notice how sometimes it goes through the back side of an area rug and starts digging into the flooring below? Sand is also microscopically sharp! The embedded particles slowly cut into the base of the rug’s delicate fibers as we walk over the top. This breaks the fibers apart destroying the rug form the bottom up! The most effective way to remove this dangerous grit is by slowly and thorough vacuuming with a high-quality machine. However, the vacuum must be equipped with a spinning brushroller/ “agitator”/ “beater bar” to move the carpet strands apart and deliver suction deep down where the sand is hiding. Straight suction (like you’d use on bare floors) just will not cut it on carpets.

CONCLUSION
Sand is beautiful, but belongs at the beach! So be armed with a great vacuum that can eradicate sand (and other offending particles) from your house in order maintain the original beauty of your floors, rugs and furnishings. There is beauty in cleanliness… it’s next to Godliness, some say! So, for heaven’s sake, can we take time to stop and smell the rose-scented countertop spray? Take not for granted the glisten of exquisitely polished granite, stainless steel and freshly-scrubbed grout. Consider how much heck you’re putting your poor floors through and stop treating your living room rugs like a doormat! Keeping your home clean and healthy is work, no doubt. But we all know that the right tools get each job done more quickly, easily and thoroughly!  And that’s what WE’RE here for!!  Enjoy your summer and we’ll be seeing you soon….

Diaperless Babies?! What can we learn about VACUUMS from this child-rearing trend?

What do diaperless babies have to do with vacuum cleaners? Hopefully nothing, directly. But there is an increasingly popular potty-training method that has a peculiar parallel to trends in the vacuum world! “Elimination communication.”  Perhaps you’ve heard of it?  You may find this information enlightening or possibly disturbing. Either way, we hope it just gets you thinking.
Diaperless Baby & Bagless vacuum

From Wikipedia: “Elimination communication, or EC, is a practice in which….using timing, signals, cues, and intuition…caregivers try to recognize and respond to babies’ bodily needs and enable them to [eliminate waste] in an appropriate place (e.g. a toilet)… The term…was inspired by traditional practices of diaper-less baby care in less industrialized countries and hunter-gatherer cultures…Because EC lessens families’ reliance on diapers, this helps reduce the environmental impact of discarding disposable diapers and/or washing cloth diapers, and saves families hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in disposable diapers.”     **CLICK HERE for a humerous review of “Elimination Communication” from Stephen Colbert ** 

So now I’ll let you in on the analogy/inside joke that we’ve used for years: “Bagless vacuums are like diaperless babies.”  How can we make such a bold and repulsive comparison? Because we fix vacuums for a living!  (BTW – If you currently operate bagless, pleeeease do not be offended. We simply hope you consider our expert opinions carefully and utilize the constructive tips we offer.)

If you’ve subscribed for any length of time you are well aware of our company’s feelings on bagless vacuums…YUCK!” If you’re a newcomer, the main reason we have such a poor opinion of bagless machines is because of their high demand for cleaning/maintenance and the unsanitary condition that presents. The second greatest issue is that (versus bagged equivalents) we see an incredibly high rate of clogging, breakage and catastrophic failure that lead to their premature “death” and disposal. Most folks are misled into believing that bagless vacs are ” practically maintenance free“, “great for allergies” and/or “economical.” I’ve written countless articles in the past exposing the erroneous rational behind each of those claims, in great detail. (Click each respective link to see a corresponding article or video from our archives, or visit our Articles Archive to see more.)

Of course bagless vacuums have certain advantages. Most bagless owners quote a great sense of gratification from actively seeing how much dirt they retrieve while vacuuming. They also mention feeling relief from the burden of having to “run out and buy bags” and love how cheap most are to buy up front. Unfortunately, most people discover that these blessings turn into a curse in the long run. 

Diapers = Bags

Now back to our analogy.  It’s easy to see the likeness between disposable vacuum cleaner bags and disposable baby diapers. So the converse must be true, right? Let’s see what similarities we can find…

 

The more you look at it, babies (diapered and not) and vacuums (bagged and not) have a lot in common! And each style has its particular advantages and disadvantages. Which format is right for you depends on your priorities and preferences. 

Start by deciding what your end goal is, then work backward. Framed within the bigger picture, you’ll want to consider the finer details like costs; up-front and long-term expenses. Also think about the effects your choice may have on your lifestyle, both positive and negative. Again, the majority of this deliberation requires some gazing into the future!

If it’s your baby, your goals may be for her to reach potty independence sooner and to save on the cost of diapers. But you must be available and willing to take her to the restroom as soon as she gives the cue – and be prepared for the accident in case there are no facilities nearby. Could all that be a game-changer?

Similarly, a bagless vacuum from Wal-Mart may suit your budget right now and seem convenient. But do you have the facilities to empty the bin and wash the filters in a sanitary location? Do you have the desire, time and space to wash the filters and let them dry (or money to replace them if required?) Can you afford the long-term expense of replacing the entire vacuum almost every year? Would it bother your ecological conscience to know the severe negative impact you’ll make in the landfill?  Babes or bags, reach your goal by making sure that you have the equipment and wherewithal to take the necessary steps – ones that actually go in the right direction!

The bottom line?  Using the EC potty training method can unquestionably reduce the quantity of diapers in the city dump. If you were hand-washing cloth diapers to reduce the bulk of trash, you would still be using a considerable amount of water and detergent, something not entirely without environmental impact. There are plausible environmental and (possibly developmental) advantages to these child care methods over the typical “Pamper-ed” lifestyle. But the question is whether you, as a parent,would be willing and able to be so “hands-on?”The same question can be asked of the bagless vacuum owner… Bagless has its benefits, but be prepared for some extra, hands-on maintenance and a lot of hidden costs!

GIRL POWER at Queen Vacuum… Learn how our talented LADIES make your life easier!

Dead lifting vacuums
Who knew Vacuuming was such good exercise?!

We are pretty big on fitness here at Queen Vacuum. And do we count vacuuming as exercise? Youbetcha!!  But when we talk about “girl power” we’re not just talking about our ability to single-handedly dead lift a Dyson. We’re talking about our general skill and overall AWESOMENESS!

“TOOOOT!!”  (That’s was our own horn, sorry!)

We know that our business is unusual and quite a throwback to say the least. But it’s extra “weird” that aside from the primary owner, John (my poor, outnumbered husband) that we’re operated mainly by ladies! Thanks to incredible mentors like old “Uncle Gene” and John, Erika and I have absorbed a ridiculous amount of vacuum-related knowledge! I also imagine it’s helpful that she and I (albeit from two different states) both grew up working on classic cars and building things with our dads from the time we could walk. That kind of experience is pretty helpful in a mechanical field like this! All of that aside, we each impart our own unique flair and skills in this store – which are what make YOUR experience here more valuable and enjoyable!  

What skills? Oh geez, there are so many “hats” to wear here! Sales, repairs, ordering, re-stocking, assembling, warranty processing, accounting, marketing, recycling, shipping, calls and reminders, data-entry and recordkeeping…now we even have website design & maintenance, social media updates…the list goes on!  Back in the day, John used to have to everything by himself. But since the business has grown, so has the workload – and boy, is he lucky to have us girls!

[CLICK HERE to learn more ABOUT US… our whole team and our store’s long, rich history!!]

Erika & Rachel from Queen Vacuum
Happy girls Erika & Rachel!

Most days you’ll find one of our Master Technicians, Erika, at the repair bench.Whether it’s a spitting Oreck, a sparking Kenmore, a miserable high-tech Dyson warranty repair, or just a gentle Miele cleaning service, your vacuum is in great hands!  Record-keeping of all the repair work we do is a critical part of the job too. Erika’s technical skill combined with her attention to detail is part of what sets our services apart. You can also be sure that she keeps our shop well-stocked with the most critical replacements parts and ensures that warranty repair claims are flawlessly executed to save you time and money!

I, Rachel, spend a lot of time these days in “paperwork land.” Well, it’s more digital than paper these days….including these newsletters! My office is communication central and where the “back-end” of the business is kept well-oiled. I make sure Miele customers are reminded to replace their HEPA filters every year and maintain all records.  I also produce resources like our website, Facebook and YouTube channel and keep them up-to-date and brimming with useful information for you!  BTW – be sure to send me your suggestions of what you’d like to see or know – otherwise I have to guess! You should also know that I’m the one who sends out the referral commission checks each month!! And if you’d like $20 bucks +, please click here to print out some Referral Cards!

When not tied to the office or repair bench you’ll find one of us ladies at the sales/service counter or in the showroom selling new vacuums. This is the LIVE arena where we seek victory over the frustrations of our customers! Remember, the average “Joe” arrives furious after his brand new Electrolux from Kohl’s is already broken. “Jane” is at her wits end after scouring the web for weeks for the “best vacuum” (while her house is currently a dustbunny-infested disaster!) Our greatest challenge and JOY is to help them leave with a smile! We’ve learned that people feel better and are extra appreciative when we just lend a sympathetic ear then TEACH them something useful about their vacuum or situation. Patient explanation and truthful, useful information are precious commodities that you just don’t receive everywhere. Wouldn’t you like to be told why your vacuum broke in the first place, how your warranty actually works, how to prevent future breakage and/or how to use and maintain your new vacuum correctly?  Consider these our gifts to you, just for being our customer!

CONCLUSION

“Girl power?” Don’t worry…no fem-nazis here. Besides, John is too great of a guy to be overshadowed and we are a true, equally-awesome TEAM!

It’s just funny how some folks are shocked to see that women not only co-own, but operate and do the repairs here!  Yes, we “know our stuff” and how get our hands dirty…very dirty! But we also possess that gentler, friendly, patient side that stereotypically lacks in a business of this nature.  A woman’s touch? Maybe.  So stop in for a visit and be sure to send along your friends and family…You can trust we’ll take great care of you all!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

UPDATERecently, our dear Erika moved out of state to take care of family. We miss her sooooo much!! Not sure if she’ll be able to come back to work with us or not 🙁   So in the meantime John and I have divvied up her workload (like the “olden days” when we first took over this shop, before we had any help.) We certainly have some seriously talented and productive shoes to fill!  John has re-assumed his place as the sole, master vacuum (and small appliance) tech.  He also spends a lot of time with customers in the showroom helping them pick out new vacuums! I’m up front most of the time at the sales counter now, and taking care of eeeeeeeverything else in-between and behind-the-scenes. But, due to my personal nature (an excessively girly, detail-oriented, chronically multi-tasking, gym beast) I think there will still be plenty of GIRL POWER to go around LOL!  So although we have to work a bit harder than usual, we still are able to take fantastic care of you!!    Oh! And long-time Erika customers/fans…please feel free to send in your love and wishes to her – we’ll be sure to pass them along 🙂 

Major Appliance = Major Expense?

How much should you pay for a really good vacuum?

Perhaps you’re one of the many embarking on a frenzy of gift-giving this month. Even if you’re one who prefers to keep all that low-key, you’d still be wise to take advantage of the sweet sales going on! If given the choice, who wouldn’t wait until the Black Friday-type sales came along to buy that “desperately-needed” new washing machine, TV, computer or vacuum cleaner? After all, major appliances are “expensive,” right?

A major appliance is usually a relatively large machine/device used in the essential operations of your home and family care. The fridge and oven both help you feed your family. The washer and dryer care for the clothes you wear. The furnace and AC units keep you comfortable. These are all important and useful, hard-working items and they indeed can be costly. Yet they relieve you of so much irritating and time-consuming work they’re totally worth every penny. $1000 for a washing machine though? It sure is better than beating your dirty britches on some river rocks, so I’ll take it! In fact, throw the dryer for me too!

And thank goodness for televisions! Sorry, I’m being facetious…TV’s don’t actually “DO” anything. So why do folks seem fine with spending so much money on them? Don’t forget about the added cost of the channel subscription… That alone can add an extra $20-$100 every single month!

I’m sure you can detect that I’ve attempted a tactful segue…Indeed, I hope my humor will allow you to forgive my audacity in stating that I don’t EVER want to hear someone complain about the price of a vacuum cleaner again!   LOL 😉

In my experience, “expensive” is a word usually accompanied by a sneer, furrowed brow and/or deep scrunching of the nose. Not attractive. Admittedly, I’ve become irritated by the overuse of this highly subjective word. I know folks don’t intend any harm or insult, yet the implication is that the purchase of a high-end vacuum is wasteful, a rip-off or money that would be “better” spent elsewhere.  Such a reaction tells me is that a vacuum is not as sexy, exciting, satisfying or important as a designer purse, luxe carpeting, new car payments, video games, plasma TV, or even daily trips to Starbucks. I know…I get it. Some vacuums simply cost more than folks had expected to spend.
Perhaps I’ve become hyper-sensitive. Have I’ve become mentally scarred by the cries of customers sickened by the cost of a decent vacuum? …Complaints uttered (ironically) after discussing the colossal square-footage of their homes and 6-figure cost of floors and furnishings? …Disturbing discussions about the suffering and cost of healthcare for seriously allergic family members. Ever hear the phrase “penny-wise and pound-foolish?”  Oh!! If could only get people to understand the importance and value of a quality vacuum I could end the wastefulness and suffering!  (And that’s what this whole newsletter series is about!)
A vacuum cleaner is a critical, household workhorse and thus a major appliance. Accordingly, room should be allocated in your budget for a quality, appropriately-equipped machine. Vacuums were always costly – check your history. They used to be made well, lasted for decades and cleaned like the dickens. Great vacuums still exist and they clean even better than before with greater ease. But they are not “cheap” and you will not find them at Wal-Mart or Costco.
A vac that works and lasts like Grandma’s will cost the same as she paid, after adjusting for inflation. Today, you’re looking at about $400 – $1,000 for a quality, reputably-branded, carpet-and-bare-floor cleaning, HEPA filtration, 10-20 year vacuum. Going forward, general tune-ups and maintenance items should tally about $50-$100 annually. But don’t think “expensive” and sneer. If you’d bought a car, you’d allot for not only the original purchase but also the gas, oil, tune-ups, tires and the occasional breakdown or accident. Or I dunno…maybe you put your car to the curb when it gets a flat tire or needs an alignment?  What’s “expensive” (i.e. wasteful) is replacing a crummy vacuum every year. Even worse is having to prematurely replace furnishings! Poor vacuum performance renders sofas and rugs matted, dingy and curb-worthy. Needlessly aggressive vacuums wears and tears up carpeting and leaves hardwood floors dull and scuffed.
$4K for a TV?!  Don’t ever tell me a vacuum is expensive!
Besides speculative brain-rotting, there’s nothing “wrong” with a fancy TV, game console, stereo system or even uber-designer fashions. But some folks appear to value these products far above those that affect the health and upkeep of their household. I simply implore everyone to evaluate their priorities carefully.  
I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson and gained some valuable perspective towards all of your prospective purchases this holiday shopping season! Moreover, we at Queen Vacuum wish you and your family a joyous and blessed conclusion to this year, however you celebrate 🙂

What’s that SMELL?! Why your vacuum stinks and what to do about it…


A lot of different types of unusual aromas can emit from your vacuum cleaner…. 
 Some should draw concern; others (albeit unpleasant) are not a big deal.  This article will help you decipher what that smell is telling you, whether it’s a major concern, as well as some tips for how to remedy the situation!

Top 4 Smell Categories:

1) Doggy
2) Stale, Dusty, Rotten
3) Burnt Rubber
4) Burning/chemical

DOGGY
The source of this odor is obvious, but not all dog smells are equal. Certain breeds (especially water-dogs) have a shaggier, oiler coat that harbors that distinctive smell. The oil clings to the inside of the vacuum’s brushroller and  ducting/hoses and forms a sticky paste inside the cyclone chambers of bagless vacuums….eeew!  Some “hair” dogs do not produce so much oil, and thus stink less. Cats do not have fur odor at all (as long as you’re not silly enough to suck up cat littler!)

CONCERNS:  Your vacuum is not particularly “harmed” much by the doggy slime and smell, but your house won’t seem clean if it stinks worse than when you started. Also, that smell may cause folks to trash the machine prematurely, which is wasteful and expensive.

SOLUTIONS: Use a bagged vacuum. Disposable bags not only hold infinitely more fur than a dirt cup (less exposure to allergens for you) but it allows one less large and/or impossible to reach surface for dog-grease to coat! Still, change the bag no less than once per month; they are very inexpensive.  Lastly, get your vac regularly serviced by us, and/or opt for our special steam & deodorizing service every year or so.

STALE/DUSTY/ ROTTEN
This condition is similar to that of the doggy smell. Much of the dust your vacuum picks up is comprised of biological matter like skin flakes and food particles….’nuff said. That matter is concentrated and then heated by the vac’s exhaust air passing through, intensifying the odor. The more often your disposable bag or filter is changed or the dirt bin emptied and cleaned, the less old particles there will be left behind to decompose and smell. We find that most people do not maintain their vacuums correctly or as often as required. The result is that funky smell, excessive clogging and particle residue.

 

 
How’s your Belt holding up?

CONCERNS:  Again, it’s hard to clean with a vacuum that’s dirty and smells weird. What’s worse is that the aforementioned debris left behind can work its way into the vac’s motor and electronics causing excessive motor strain and eventual premature demise.

SOLUTIONS: See “Doggy” solutions above – the same treatments can remedy these unpleasant odors.

BURNT RUBBER
The classic, acrid stench of burnt rubber (and sometimes an accompanying cloud of smoke) is, 99% of the time, caused by the breaking of your vacuum’s drive belt. Most machines on the market still use an old-fashioned flat, stretchy, rubber belt to transfer spinning power from the suction motor to the brushroller. That brush is what spins rapidly to whisk debris up from your carpets. But if something gets caught (like a sock, dog toy, paperclip, etc.) and abruptly stops the brush the motor shaft keeps spinning, rubbing away and burning through the belt! We’ve all done it, and it can be quite a scene! Belts can die a slower death, producing a less-pronounced smell, if the brushroller is slowly seizing over time. Hair, string and dust get bound up in the brushroller’s end caps and bearings making it increasingly difficult for the brush to spin freely. The more resistance, the more the belt heats, slips and eventually burns up.

CONCERNS:  The burnt rubber chunks thrown out of the bottom of the vac can make a sticky black mess on your rugs! Accidents and seizing from lack of maintenance can your brushroller to lock up, snap or warp!

SOLUTIONS: Be careful where you aim – avoid sucking up larger objects and items into your cleanerhead that will jam the brush. Regularly check and clean your brushroller. If your vactakes a rubber stretch-type belt, replace it at least every 6-12 months (or sooner if you have an accident.) Get your machine serviced by us every year…we’ll clean out and grease your brush bearings and replace the belt to that your vac runs optimally at all times!

 

BURNING/CHEMICAL
This is the most common sign of a potentially catastrophic situation.  When the vacuum’s motor begins to short out, you’ll notice a terrible, burning, acrid, ozone or chemical-like odor. It’s awful!! There is usually a loud, bizarre sound that accompanies this smell as well. Lack of maintenance, sucking up excessive fine dust (like fireplace ash, sheetrock dust or carpet fresh) or sucking up water can cause this problem.

CONCERNS:  It’s rare, but a motor that’s shorting out can melt down, spark and possibly run risk of fire. So if you smell this distinctive odor, shut off your vacuum immediately! The suction motor is the heart of the machine. But even though it is usually the most expensive part in a vacuum, it is still far less expensive than buying a new machine!

SOLUTIONS:  Shut off your vacuum immediately and bring in to our shop for inspection (inspections are free!) Usually the motor can be replaced, as well as the exhaust filter – it’ll get a new lease on life! If it looks not to be cost-effective or there is too much else wrong, we’ll steer you right! It never hurts to ask and try keeping a vacuum out of the landfill!

When your vacuum is clean and running correctly, by all means, you can add a sprinkle of fragrance pellets, a dryer sheet or cotton ball with essential oils to diffuse a pleasant fragrance. But it’s a waste if you’re just covering up odors that shouldn’t be there in the first place. When your home’s air is clean and neutral, it’s fun to use a plant-based, aroma-therapeutic cleaner (like Mrs Meyer’s or Caldrea) to mop and wipe down your floors and counters. Using a smooth-running, high-filtration bagged vacuum lets you rest assured that your indoor air is clean, pure and you’ve only added healthy aromas (instead of spreading dust, allergens and caustic petro-byproducts.)

Who knew that your vacuum’s smell could tell so much about its health and performance?! Moral of the story….Pay attention to your vacuum, be diligent with your at-home maintenance and bring it in for service at Queen Vacuum annually. Protect your investment and ensure that your home is truly getting (and smelling) CLEAN every time you go to vacuum.

10 Things You Should Vacuum – You might be surprised about what you’re missing!

SPOILER ALERT! 
This article will be hijacking the tips laid out in one of our most fun YouTube videos! If you’re a visual learner and could use an educational entertainment break STOP READING and click on the video link below to watch 🙂 Otherwise, continue below and enjoy this nutritious mental snack the old fashioned way – then watch the video later!

In this particular video, Rachel demonstrates 10 things you SHOULD be vacuuming – but probably are NOT!  

“Starring Rachel, her beloved Miele S7 upright vacuum cleaner and adorable cat, Chanel, learn about the surprising things you SHOULD be Are you vacuuming the things you should? vacuuming to keep your home clean and allergen free – without much effort! Also protect your furnishings and other household items by cleaning them correctly without causing damage. Learn what some of your vacuum’s attachments should be used for as well as why a Swiffer” can be deadly to your floors!”

In case your device can’t load the image, here’s the LIST:
 
1) Pillows, couches and chairs (upholstered stuff)
2) Bare Floors (forget the Swiffer, it’s limited and can cause damage!)
3) Live and Silk plants*
4) Keyboards, remote controls and select electronics* (don’t do static-sensitive items like computer guts)
5) Vents…dryer, fridge, etc
6) Heat/AC air ducts and heat registers
7) Wool Coats & Jackets
8) Mattress
9) Pets* (Some dogs and cats love this, but certainly not all. Loosen excessive fur, critters and dander at the source! Use a specially-designed pet massaging tool with very low vacuum suction. The noise will be less and it won’t risk sucking to their skin.)

10) your Vacuum itself! (it gets dusty too, you know)

10 things you should vacuumNOTE the asterisks (*)! You’ll see that the tips in the video are prefaced by an “equipment check”…   In order to correctly and safely vacuum the majority of carpets, above floor surfaces, electronics and other delicate surfaces you must have a high-filtration vacuum with VARIABLE SUCTION, and use it on a low setting! You also must attach the correct tool such as dusting brush, crevice or upholstery tool. Cleaning is achieved by an appropriate balance of suction PLUS agitation. Think about your washing machine… water is used to suspend dirt particles. It’s the agitation that really loosens debris and boosts the effectiveness. Similarly, in your vacuum, air is used to suspend dirt. The air simply moving (i.e. suction) helps loosen quite a bit of dust, but agitation provided by a bristled attachment or spinning brushroller loosens more! You also know that some clothes belong in the delicate cycle only…apply similar logic to certain household surfaces.

Why on earth would you want to go through the “trouble” of vacuuming all these things? Dust is sneaky, destructive and prolific – it is everywhere! Dust-clogged electronics can prematurely short out. Ducts get filled with dust and spew into your family’ breathing air. Uncleaned mattresses and pet beds can become a breeding ground for mites and other unsavory critters. A bad, leaky, over-powered vacuum can do more harm than good to your home than you’d imagine. Torn up rugs, scratched wood, dingy-dusty upholstery and polluted air will wear down your home’s value as well as your quality of life.

So stop in to Queen Vacuum…we’ll help you select the correct quality, high-filtration, variable-suction vacuum for your home. Our selection is huge and prices unbeatable! And not only will we be able to service and maintain it for life, but we teach you how to use it. Top that, internet or big-box store!! Then, occasionally check in on our social media outlets like YouTube to pick up handy new tricks to make quick work of your housecleaning chores. Have fun and see you soon!

Never Trust a Pine Needle! …or a sock, for that matter.

I think it’s about time we had a talk….an important talk about how to play it safe when faced with temptation. Oh, this may be the season of peace and joy – but don’t kid yourself. Dangers lurk around every corner. Ice, snow, empty calories…ha! Those are mere child’s play. I find that the most menacing and destructive forces are those that are inconspicuous, appear common, or seem harmless. Fear the sneaky ones…the little “straws” that break camels’ backs.Pine Needles

Sure, everyone will be doing it: Tediously trimming trees of every shape and size; “Sprucing” up the house with dazzling arrays of evergreen boughs, bows and baubles; Frantically tidying in preparation long-awaited guests. But don’t let the egg nog cloud your judgement…this is a recipe for disaster. In fact, this is the time of year your vacuum cleaner dreads most! It cringes at the memories of last year: Being crashed into furniture, swerving precariously through a gauntlet of loose ribbons and tacks, and choking desperately on shattered glass and you guessed it…pine needles!

Let’s face it…you see that sprinkling of tiny, unassuming pine needles on the floor and dutifully take measures to eliminate the mess. You grab your trusty vacuum, detach the hose and watch with delight as they get sucked into oblivion. Admit it – you even enjoy the delicate “piney” perfume your vacuum acquired in the process. Well, by New Year’s you might have noticed that the evergreen aroma has been replaced by the acrid stench of burning rubber – or worse yet, burnt-up motor! SO WHAT HAPPENED?

If you want to relax and enjoy your holidays, make sure you keep your vacuum happy. Treat it with respect and it will serve you well and without frustration. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO SUCK UP PINE NEEDLES! And though your holiday may become hectic – also be on the lookout for loose items on the floor like ribbons, pet toys and socks! The most common consequences of sucking up these items in your vacuum are belt breakage, or badly clogging the vacuum’s suction hose. That rogue sock can get lodged in the vacuum’s nozzle, stopping the brushroller and causing the drive belt to burn up (and smell!) And even just a small bunch of pine needles can clump together in a fashion that makes a tight, impenetrable web, clogging the hose! You’ll know this has occurred when you go to vacuum shortly afterward and there’s no suction or “pick-up.” Finding and removing this clog can be a frustrating and time-consuming task. If you’re not careful, you can puncture the hose or cause damage to the electrical wires that are inside some models. But if you neglect the clog long enough, the vacuum’s motor can strain so severely that it will eventually short out! That’s an expensive situation I think you’d rather not encounter.

So do your best to SWEEP those little buggers up. A few stray needles left around the house can be safely vacuumed – but heed my warning and don’t ever let your guard down! However, if you find yourself in a bind, don’t ever be ashamed to stop in Queen Vacuum for help!

What did you learn? How does it apply to you?
More questions…Call or write us – we’re always happy to help!