It’s “Vac” to School Time!

The A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s of vacuuming…

Vac to SchoolAhh…The kiddos are finally going back to school and hitting the books! Personally, I’m glad to no longer be legally obligated to attend an educational institution. However, I still love to learn! My favorite stuff to learn about is that which helps me accomplish something fun, or makes my life easier/better

  

So we put our heads together and compiled a short list outlining some of the most important, overlooked and misunderstood concepts in vacuuming. So while we’re in the “school” spirit, I implore you to take a minute to study the tips we outline below. No, we’re not going to try to turn you into total vacuum-geeks like us. But if you find vacuuming to be a giant pain in the neck (literally or figuratively) that’s your first clue that something’s wrong! Following our guidelines just might relieve you of a lifetime of needlessly confusing and frustrating vacuum headaches!

 

THE A-B-C’s AND 1-2-3’s  OF VACUUM OWNERSHIP:

 

A – It’s all about AIR FLOW!  The first vacuum cleaner began as a fan and a pillowcase on wheels: Something to move air in a specific direction, and something to separate the collected dirt from clean air. Vacs are much more advanced these days, but the principle is the same: If anything impedes the air flowing IN or OUT of your vacuum, it will not “work.” So the next time your vacuum doesn’t suck, check  to see (1) if something is clogging any of the pipes leading in to the vacuum or (2) if your bag is full, or the pores of the bag or other filter material are clogged (as clean air will not be able to pass through.) In other words, if air can’t get out of the vacuum, new air can’t get in!

B – BREAKAGE Happens. Remember that your vacuum is a mechanical device; a machine with moving parts. So don’t get discouraged when its performance mysteriously declines, or if an accident happens. Much like your car, your vacuum is comprised of parts that can get out of alignment, or wear out over time and need replacing. The good news is that much breakage is preventable! User error is a common cause, so take time to learn how to use your vacuum correctly.  Also, always provide your vacuum with the basic maintenance it requires at the appropriate intervals (like bags, belts, filters and regular cleanings). Lastly, consider getting the vacuum fixed when it doesn’t work right, before throwing it out. Most often the problem is not as catastrophic or expensive as you fear. (And hey, at least here estimates are FREE!)

C – CHOOSE Wisely. As I’ve discussed in previous articles, your vacuum is a toolChoose your brand and model of vacuum wisely, as the wrong type will not perform as desired on the surfaces you are cleaning, or meet other expectations you may have. Choose the right attachments for specific tasks (like using a soft dusting brush for vacuuming baseboard molding, instead of a stiff crevice tool.) Also, selecting the correct bags and filters for your model is imperative: Improper fit means leakage of dirt into your vacuum’s motor and your house! When in doubt, seek professional advice.

1 – You should vacuum your floors at least ONCE per week: Above-floor surfaces, ONCE per month.  Some households require greater frequency than this, especially if there are pets. But do your carpets a favor by thoroughly vacuuming the hair and dust weekly before it imbeds too deeply in the carpet fibers. This also will bring the nap of the carpet back to a raised position, helping prevent that ugly matted look in high-traffic areas. You’ll also reduce the need to “wash” the carpets with water-extraction machines. This concept also applies to your couches, drapes and mattresses! You can avoid the formation of dust-bunnies (who are born of neglect) by vacuuming your hard floors more frequently.  Eliminating the rough, sandy particles by vacuuming (instead of “Swiffer-ing”) prevents scratching and dullness in the finish of your wood floors.

2 – Every TWO years, get your vacuum serviced.  You know to change your car’s oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles, and that your brakes only last so long. Your vacuum has moving parts too. Every couple of years get your vacuum a “tune-up” which includes cleaning and lubricating the brushroller and bearings, checking the electrical system, unclogging and washing, etc. (Because you can’t keep your house clean with a dirty, smelly, busted-up vacuum!)

3 – Every THREE months check your belt and filters. Over time, fine dust clogs the pores of the material that comprises your vacuum’s filtration system. If your machine uses bags, most of the vac-choking dust gets removed with the bag (once per month on average.) But if your vacuum is bagless, it is IMPERATIVE to keep its filters very clean, very regularly. Otherwise, the vacuum will suffocate causing a sharp decline in performance and overall lifespan!  Lastly, most regular upright vacuum cleaners use a stretchy, rubber drive belt than can last up to a year. However, if you have ever had an “accident” in which something got caught/stuck in the brushroller, the belt has been subjected to excessive friction that may have caused it to break or stretch too much. Without proper tension, the brush can’t spin aggressively enough to pick up debris well on your carpets. Get a new belt on there, STAT!

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Our job is to make your life easier…but communication is the key. When you have a solid understanding of your cleaning needs and equipment and can convey the right information to us – we can provide you with the correct solutions.  In other words, the more you understand about your vacuum, the better we can help you! And when you have the right tools for the job and the know-how to follow through…the frustration stops and the savings of time and money starts! “Knowledge is power,” baby!

** CLASS DISMISSED! **

“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)

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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!