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 Well, by New Year’s you might have noticed that the evergreen aroma has been replaced by the acrid stench of burning rubber – or worse yet, burnt-up motor!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!

Your Vacuum is NOT a Garbage Can!

Take it from us (and Oscar, here)…There is stuff you should never suck up with your vacuum – no matter how harmless it looks!Your vacuum is NOT a garbage can

I shamelessly solicited topic advice for this newsletter while I was on Facebook one day. My cousin posted a great question…
“Are there certain things you should NEVER vacuum up? What I thought was going to be used as a quick Q&A piece turned into a full blown article. Lucky you!

The simple answer is “Oh, YES!” There are plenty of vacuum NO-NO’s I can list off the top of my head! Being in the repair business, we see the consequences of sucking up a whole host of bizarre things. But for the sake of this article, let’s look at stuff vacuum users have mistakenly thought would be okay to suck up…

TOP TEN things you should never pick up with your vacuum cleaner (and WHY!):

10. Live Bugs – If you use a bagless vacuum, this isn’t the best idea. You might want to wait until you’re sure all critters are dead before you empty the dirt collection bin! 

9. Broken Glass / Ceramic – If you use a bagless vacuum you risk getting cut by these particles when you empty the dirt bin or clean the filters! Also at risk of getting cut is the vacuum’s drive belt, or hoses. Big chunks can break the vac’s fan, or cause clogs. Only certain vacuums (like Miele, that use a very thick cloth disposable cloth bag) can handle this material safely.

8. Coins or Pebbles – Hard, heavy (albeit small) objects like these can obstruct the brushroller and break the belt, or worse – in certain machines, shatter an upright vacuum’s fan.

7. Staples / Paperclips / Bobby Pins – These can obstruct the brushroller, tear up the belt, or get stuck sideways and cause clogs.

6. Pine Needles, Paper Shreddings or Leaves – These also tend to cause terrible clogs in the hose, and fill your bag prematurely (wasteful….just sweep that stuff up, silly.)

5. Dirt – I don’t care what commercials or advertisements show…flower pot dirt and muddy dog tracks is ALIVE and usually is moist (see below.) Sweep up as much as you can, let the area dry, and then vacuum gently.

4. Kitty Litter – The fine dust clogs the bag and filters, and (obviously) breeds nasty smells and bacteria inside the vacuum!

3. Water / Moist Stuff – You know not to vacuum puddles, but many folk’s vacuum areas that are still damp. The moisture breeds mildew, “sludges up” the brushroller housing and may rust the vac’s motor.

2. Food – Anything perishable or moist will rot inside the vacuum. Greasier foods slime your internal housing and hose. ‘Nuff said! Dry spills like rice, pretzels or a small amount of flour is safe. Dry cereal is ok too, unless is has been touched by milk.

Drum roll Please….

1. Baking Soda / Powders / Sheetrock Dust – This type of fine particulate seems harmless, but can quickly clog the tiny pores of your vacuum’s bag and/or filters. A very small amount is fine…But too much and the vacuum clogs, suffocates and the motor may short out prematurely!

Moral of the story? Your vacuum cleaner is NOT a garbage can! Use a little common sense, and WHEN IN DOUBT – THROW IT OUT. Pick up, sweep up or blot up the questionable item or substance on your floor instead of letting your poor vacuum cleaner consume it!

“Crawlies” in your carpet giving you the CREEPS?

 

 Banish these buggers once and for all…
Halloween is here! ….ghosts, goblins, werewolves – oh my! They’d be scary if they were real. But what are genuinely scary? The creepy crawlies that can take residence in your carpet, bed and hard-to-reach corners of your home! The good news is that there’s an easy solution to banishing these buggers – and it’s right under your nose…Your vacuum to the rescue!

So before you batten down the hatches for winter, take some time this fall to rid your home of unwanted and unhealthy guests. Arm yourself by following these helpful tips:

Rabid ankle-biting dust bunnies are easily detained – if you’re able to catch them off-guard. Often provoked to flee at the first sight of your vacuum – you must sneak up on this skittish prey. Point the machine’s exhaust away from the bunnies and scap them up with a quick sweep of your vacuum’s long hose/wand attachment.

• Use your vacuum to suck up and trap the tiny spiders that live in the corners of your home and behind furniture. Using the hose attachment with the long wand or crevice tool means you won’t even have to get near them. Get rid of the spiders and you don’t have to clean embarrassing cobwebs! (By the way, this works best with a bagged vacuum.)

• Clean the kitchen area frequently; Wipe counters, empty the garbage, avoid leaving pet food dishes out for long periods of time, and vacuum the floor frequently for crumbs. This will discourage infestation of ants as well rodents! Also be sure to store those Halloween snacks and sweets in closed containers.

• Don’t forget to vacuum your mattress several times per year (or each time you change the sheets if you feel ambitious.) Dust mites and other “creepies” feed on the dead skin and other matter you naturally shed. Reduce their food supply, as well as remove much of the eggs and allergens they produce by vacuuming it up. Be sure to use a quality bagged machine with genuine, sealed HEPA filtration to actually capture all you collect!

• Little buggers like fleas and dust mites can be discouraged by vacuuming too. True, that the adult bugs are harder to catch and left unchecked, chemical warfare may be the only resolution. However, using a quality deep cleaning HEPA vacuum on your carpet, furniture and pet beds will remove much of these critters’ eggs, larvae, allergens and food supply that will keep their population at bay.

• For the creepy stuff you can’t really see – be sure to change your vacuum’s bags and filters frequently. Bacteria, mold and other allergens can multiply or develop inside these media if left for months at a time.

Good vacuums are not hard to find – you just need to know where to look! Learn more about better choices of vacuums on our website, www.queenvacuum.com/products. Call or stop in our shop any time for more explanation, information, or a demonstration!

Trick or Treat? False Claims or Real Benefits…

….the frightening reality of vacuum marketing.

In honor of Halloween, I always like to address some of the spooky, freaky and downright scary aspects in the world of vacuuming!  What do I find to be the scariest? FALSE MARKETING CLAIMS!!

Disappointing, perhaps; But scary? You would think that spending as much time with vacuum cleaners as we do would make us numb to some of the more disgusting aspects of their existence. On the contrary: We’ve become hyper aware of how different machines work, how they often don’t work, and how their performance sometimes differs greatly than claimed or expected. What makes a false or misleading claim scary is the consequence the user may suffer from believing it!

scary-vacuumsFollowing are some CLAIMS attached to certain vacuum cleaners. See if you can guess which claims are a “TRICK” (as in totally bogus or just misleading) or a “TREAT” (that is, a feature that really has value.) THE ANSWERS MAY SURPRISE YOU! 

“So powerful it can pick up a Pick up a bowling ball!”  Answer: TRICK

This one has been around forever, and is just plain hysterical. Oreck uses a bowling to demonstrate the suction power of its little companion canister vacuum, the “Buster B Vac.” The use of the funnel-type device at the end of the Oreck’s hose is the key.  The funnel cups around the bowling ball providing a suction cup-like effect, truly requiring only the slightest amount of vacuum to provide the seal. This is NOT a great indicator of suction, let alone cleaning performance. In fact, this little Oreck has some of the worst suction on the market.

“No Loss of Suction”  Answer: TRICK

This is Dyson’s famous line. The company did suffer some slight legal trauma over this claim…they now have to include some fine print that supports the point.  But the mighty Dyson can and will lose suction eventually. The tag line is not exactly trickery, but too many people make the errant assumption that they don’t have to wash the vacuum’s filters or empty the dust collection bin regularly. If this required at-home maintenance is neglected, the poor Dyson suffocates and just won’t suck anymore. That equals a dirty house.

 

“Zero Emissions”   Answer: TREAT!

Most of the allergy-provoking particles in your home are sized between 0.1 and 10 microns: a fraction of the width of a human hair. The bodies of many vacuums leak badly, allowing fine dust and allergens to escape once sucked up.  On the contrary, vacuums like the Miele S5 canisters and S7 uprights rate as some of the best filtering vacuum cleaners on the market. Using an air particle scanner, a Miele will record a zero emissions rating at .3 microns setting. I’m not aware of any other “sealed-system” domestic upright or canister vacuum that achieves this degree of clean air being exhausted back out into your home. This means great relief for allergy sufferers! (And those who hate having to dust the house after vacuuming!)  The good thing is that this claim is pretty well regulated, so when you see it you should be able to believe it.
“No expensive bags to replace”  Answer: TRICK

Define expensive! Many bagless vacuums are advertised using this lie – I mean line. The majority of these machines utilize a pleated HEPA filter in the dust collection bin, which serves to separate the dust from the clean air inside the vacuum (which a bag would normally do.)  The trick is that these filters are not free! They need to be replaced every 6 months to one year, which can cost you the same annually (and sometimes up to twice as much) as disposable paper vacuum bags.  Lastly, the long term expense you really have to consider is the vacuum itself. Since most bagless vacuums manage dirt so poorly internally, their motors tend to short out much sooner than their bagged counterparts…replacing a whole vacuum frequently is what really gets expensive!

 

So what’s the moral of the story? 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 to make sure that it can live up to your expectations. Look at the KEY WORDS in the 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 (or at least not without paying the price of extra money or your time.)

 

By: Rachel Decker (Co-owner, Queen Vacuum)

If you have a specific/interesting question about vacuums, cleaning, maintenance, product reviews, etc., that you would like to be featured in our newsletter or blog… send an e-mail to: info@queenvacuum.com (Subject: “Newsletter Topic”)
One lucky question will be selected for every issue!
<< BACK to ARTICLES

 

 

Do NOT Take it Back!

 (Top 3 reasons why it’s kinda EVIL to RETURN a vacuum cleaner)

Today I’m going to touch on a topic that’s, well, a little touchy…Returns! Ever buy a new vacuum at a big-box store and notice a little piece of paper that fall out of the box when you assemble?  “…DO NOT RETURN TO THE STORE.” Why on earth is that? Besides, retailers like Wal*Mart and Costco take back everything, no questions, right?!

That note was inserted by the manufacturer of your vacuum, and it’s pretty standard-issue. They know that most consumers are on their own… They know that at any given big-box store there’s no store staff member to help a customer select correct machine for their home and it certainly won’t be assembled for them. These product manufacturers (like Bissell, Hoover, Dyson, etc.) at least provide an owner’s manual with simple instructions and a Do not return vacuum to the storefree hotline or website link for basic troubleshooting.

Despite the disadvantages in the mainstream shopping method for appliances like vacuums, the actual setup and maintenance on most vacuums isn’t so bad.

But many folks simply lack the patience (or think they don’t have the mechanical knack) to utilize the resources provided to solve their issue. Thus, combined with the extremely liberal return policies of many retailers, today’s customers’ first inclination is to immediately return the vacuum to the store.  But what does that really solve and how does that affect the retailer?

By the end of this article I hope you’ll understand the many reasons why returning a vacuum is such a BAD IDEA! You’ll also learn it’s so much more practical and valuable to shop with a dedicated small appliance seller and repair station like Queen Vacuum!!

Here are the top 3 Reasons why it’s kinda EVIL to RETURN your vacuum:

  1. It’s not ETHICAL.  By this I mean that it is potentially hurtful to others. Here’s how…a.)The other typical cause for return is a practice called “retail borrowing” or  “beturning.” But, quite frankly, it’s stealing. As it relates to our business, it’s unethical to buy a new vacuum then use, abuse, neglect, get it clogged, etc. and return to the store claiming it’s defective. Everybody (should) know that it’s wrong to purchase a product with the intent to use it briefly (borrow it) then return it. Have you ever suffered through the chafing caused by carefully tucked-away price tags in that too-expensive white cocktail dress (and avoid all red-colored foods and drinks) only to return it after the fancy event? Ever buy a massive, HD flat screen TV only to return it shortly after the Super Bowl? Tisk, tisk….

c.) Thus, “beturning” a machine to a store (that really shouldn’t be accepting returns on this kind of product anyway) opens up the risk of passing contamination on to others. Some big-box stores are not very careful with such returns and occasionally re-stock that contaminated product!  This opens consumers up to the risk of receiving product that had collected hazardous construction materials, excrement, pet allergens, mold or insect infestation.  Vacuums properly refurbished and boldly disclosed as “used” are fine, if you choose to buy one from a reputable source. But buyer beware!!b.) New Jersey consumer protection laws prevent retailers from ever re-selling certain categories of products again as “new.” Products contaminated with biological waste or water like vacuums, toilet seats and water filters fall in this category.  In other words, if Home Depot sells you a new Hoover, you go home, use it for a few days and decide to return it, they can never sell it again as new. They give you back your money but take a loss. It cannot go back on their shelf, new.

  1. It’s not ECONOMICAL…. This type of activity actually hurts people’s pocketbooks and bottom lines in a few ways.
    a.) It’s not fair to make the store buy back and suffer the loss on a machine that is not actually defective (which partly this relates back to the ethics issue.) Did you realize that 9 out of 10 vacuums that are retuned are simply clogged, dirty, the belt snapped from a small accident or had been operated on an incorrect usage setting (so that it wasn’t “working right.”) By returning it, the same problem is likely to happen since you’ll never learn what simple mistake you’d been making. What a waste of time in the long run.  Typically, the “tenth” machine is genuinely defective and therefore is entitled to a simple warranty repair, paid for by the manufacturer (it’s their fault anyway!)  Losses incurred from a liberal return policy add up quickly and the only means of a business’ survival is to raise process or cut costs from somewhere else. For consumers this means you prices go up service quality goes down.b.)You should know that, with very rare exception, manufacturers do NOT buy back vacuums returned to their product’s retailers! Units they’ve produced that are proven to be genuinely defective can be repaired for no charge to the customer by a contracted warranty station like ours. But big-box stores do not fix anything! As you read above, the retailer simply bears the loss themselves. With laws restricting what can be done with these unwanted vacuums, they may either be sold through back-door deals to private refurbishers or will be discarded (which brings up my final point…)
  1. It’s not ECOLOGICAL…
    Because manufacturers do not buy back their “junk” from retailers, many of these mass-returned big-box store vacuums just end up in the dumps in mass quantities!dysons_in_the_dumpster

Our culture has supposedly become increasingly “green-conscious,” yet we find instead that consumers are all too eager to throw away large appliances like vacuums at the first moment of inconvenience. Do you realize the quantity of plastic and precious metals involved in their manufacture? Sure, they can be dismantled and recycled….we do it all the time here at Queen Vacuum. Does Wal*Mart take the time out of their day to do that?  This is why it’s most wise to purchase a high-quality, long-lasting machine that is simple and serviceable. Get help picking one out and establish a relationship with a reputable service facility like us. You don’t throw away your car when the oil needs changing or the alternator quits, right?  Cheap machines are typically harder to maintain and fail very quickly. Don’t waste your money, time or the valuable space in our landfills.

What are we thinking these days? 
Back in the day, when the vacuum acted funny, Grandma or Mom likely would’ve grabbed the manual and said “Hmm…I bet I just broke the belt. Let’s check the book to learn how to put a new one back on.”  Or “Rats, I wonder what I sucked up that clogged my vacuum? Let me turn it off and see if I can clear out the culprit.”  Today, it seems that consumers look at these situations much differently. Their inclination is to get angry, assume that the vacuum is genuinely defective and that it’s best to return it to where they bought it. Alternately, many believe that the $50 vac they bought is literally disposable, so off the curb it goes once the dirt bin is full, belt breaks or filter gets too clogged. But other than buying back the yucky, now useless vacuum at their loss, how is Wal*Mart helping you?

CONCLUSION:
Keep in mind, this is in NO WAY an attempt to steal away or diminish the rights of the consumer! After all, we’re consumers too! If you’ve been treated unfairly or received defective goods by all means, stand up for yourself! I just implore that you take a logical, fair approach (by taking whatever personal responsibility is needed) then follow the logical, fair channels to truly fix your problem. This article simply attempts to illustrate how the abuse of one’s consumer rights and stores’ policies can have very far-reaching negative consequences on the economy, our earth’s ecology, and hurt other people – consumers and retailers alike. Be thoughtful, be fair and everyone will benefit in the long run!

Is Your Vacuum an Animal? Learn how to TAME that wild, wayward creature!

If you are up to date on television and printed advertising, and/or a fan of the Home Shopping Network, you may believe that an “Animal” vacuum is the long-awaited solution to your challenging home cleaning routine! Perhaps you already own one and sing its praises every day. Perhaps you own one and feel like chucking it out the window for the amount of trouble it gives you.
For those of you in the market for a new machine and eyeing up those aforementioned “Animal” vacs – pay close attention! There is a lot of misconception and blatant misinformation out there regarding the best machines for pet-owning households. We will work on straightening some of that out right now! And if you already have a vacuum you’re generally pleased with, yet often struggle to keep it performing like you expect, you’ll enjoy the helpful tips laid out in this article too.

  

WHAT EXACTLY IS AN “ANIMAL” in the world of vacuums?
If it is a Dyson brand vacuum, that means it’s PURPLE. That’s right, color is the only real difference between any Dyson of the same model series. The main body, motor, filters, brush roller; all the same! What do change are the accessories packaged with it. A Dyson DC65 “Animal” will have an additional turbo tool and possibly a low-reach, bare floor tool (versus a standard DC65 model.)  There’s nothing at all wrong with that setup, per se. Most other brands follow this naming pattern. An “Animal,” “Pet” or “Cat & Dog” model vacuum will usually come with a special set of tools to remove pet hair from challenging surfaces like upholstery and stairs. The issue is that most consumers are under the false impression that the vacuum has more suction, a bigger motor, or better filtration; not necessarily true.
For example, a Miele C3 series Cat & Dog, Marin or HomeCare canister vacuum would ALL handle pet hair incredibly well. Why? In addition to a large capacity filterbag, these “siblings” are also power-teammodels. That means that in addition to raw suction power they are equipped with a robust electric power nozzleto deep clean carpets and rugs. But with the “Cat & Dog” you’ll also enjoy a BONUS handheld turbo brush to easily blast through embedded fur on above-floor surfaces like upholstery, auto interiors, pet beds and more! Lastly, instead of the standard HEPA media exhaust filter (used for allergen control) the Cat & Dog’s filter cartridge is chock-full of odor absorbing activated charcoal to combat stinky dog smells. All C3 series canisters are otherwise the same size, with the same motor and suction power. See the pattern?
Why does your vacuum behave like an errant puppy?
Your particular vacuum may not be an “Animal,” but it sure may act like one sometimes. Has yours ever chewed up a delicate carpet, eaten your shoelaces or puked stuff back out on the floor? Regardless of the brand or type of vacuum you have it is bound to misbehave at some point.However, more often than not, it’s not really the vacuum’s fault. As the owner, YOU are in charge of keeping your vacuum healthy and giving it what it needs at regular intervals. If you don’t take your dog outside in time he’s likely to have an accident inside. Similarly, if you don’t change your vacuum’s bag or filter in time, it will clog and spit debris out. Develop good habits of “grooming” your vacuum’s brushroller to remove excessive hair and string. Also, don’t run your vacuum where it doesn’t belong. Many vacuums are too powerful and aggressive to safely clean delicate area rugs or bare floors. You wouldn’t take your Rottweiler through a stroll through a nursery….not worth the risk, right? Also schedule to bring your vac in for regular, professional checkups (with yours truly) or at the first sign of “illness!
CONCLUSION
Sure, you may feel disappointed or even cheated that an “Animal” model isn’t any different than its relatives. Trust me; the special tools packaged with one can make all the difference in pet hair removal. But they’re only helpful if you use them. AND you still must maintain the vacuum as required in order to keep it working at peak performance, Animal or not!