What to expect from your vacuum cleaner
We know it’s challenging to work out how long your vacuum cleaner should last. You’re not sure whether it depends on the manufacturer. Or on whether your vacuum relies on battery power or is corded.
Here we’ll help you to understand what the lifespan of your vacuum cleaner should be. We’ll answer your questions, such as why certain types last longer than others.
We’ll take you through the major factors that impact how long vacuums last. We’ve covered the different types, brands, components, and warranties.
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What Is The Average Life Of A Vacuum Cleaner?
A recent Consumerreports survey says that vacuum cleaners last for a median of 8 years in the US. Put simply, half of the vacuums last less than eight years; the other last more than eight years. And the report adds that this “number varies widely by brand” (1).
Other official reports provide similar figures:
- Energystar’s scoping survey in 2011 observed that the estimated lifetime of a vacuum cleaner in the US was 5 to 8 years.
- And in the UK, a report from WRAP in 2013 suggested that vacuum cleaners should last from 5 to 11 years.
Additionally, a review by the European Commission published in 2009 says that the average lifetime should be eight years, with a full range of 6.3 to 10 years. But this could be potentially extended up to 12 years.
And this report also says that the lifespan was based on some manufacturers testing their vacuum cleaners to last for 1,000 operating hours. This came from 50 lots of one-hour cleaning jobs per year. So this equates to an average of 20 years of use in a household.
Factors That Impact On A Vacuum Cleaner’s Lifespan
We’ve given you the official stats above. But there are a lot of factors that affect the lifespan of a vacuum cleaner.
For example, how often you use it is a big one. So, the more you use your vacuum cleaner, the more likely it is to have a shorter lifespan. That’s because it’ll be exposed to more gradual wear and tear.
But other factors influence how long vacuum cleaners last. These include what type it is, what special features or components it has, and what brand it is.
Let’s get through all of them.
Types of Vacuum Cleaner
There are several different types of vacuum, and they last for different amounts of time.
So, US industry representatives suggest that this is around 2 to 3 years.
But the European Commission is a little more optimistic. Their survey observed that commercial vacuums could last for around five years. But, as some of this is based on debatable assumptions, they proposed to apply a standard variation of 2 years.
However, a report from the European Environment Agency in June 2020 states that the lifespan of a robot vacuum would likely be shorter than 8 years.
This is because rechargeable batteries operate them. And they’re also using small parts and technologies (sensors or cameras) which decrease lifetime over time. Thankfully, the batteries are replaceable and available for you to buy. So if the robot vacuum has a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, expect to replace them every 2 to 3 years.
In 2019, the European Commission’s review observed that a robot vacuum would last for around 6 years. But they put a standard deviation of 3 years on this figure.
But as this vacuum technology is developed further, there’s a good chance this will increase the lifespan of a robot vacuum. Printed circuit boards will become more of an important component. And these will lessen the likelihood of the robot vacuum failing during their lifetime.
But the report from Energy Star published in 2011 says that 69% of households in the US owned this type of vacuum cleaner. As a result, we know that upright vacuums represent a large chunk of the market. So they are well represented in the average data from surveys looking at the lifespan of vacuum cleaners.
Therefore, we can deduce that upright vacuums have an average lifetime of around 5 to 8 years. And this is supported elsewhere! Data from the Canadian Electrical Stewardship Association (CESA) in 2011 suggest that upright vacuums last on average for about 9 years.
The good news is that we do have data for cordless vacuums. Just keep in mind that this doesn’t relate to stick vacuum cleaners specifically.
Cordless Stick Vacuums
Cordless stick vacuums use batteries. But, unfortunately, the batteries limit the lifespan of the vacuum cleaner. And according to a survey conducted in New Zealand in 2020 – cordless vacuum cleaners last on average for 2.2 years (2).
Of course, you can replace the batteries on cordless vacuums. They will then last longer. So it’s difficult to say for sure how long a cordless stick vacuum will last.
But according to users’ feedback, 4 to 7 years’ service life is pretty usual, even without replacing the battery.
Corded Stick Vacuums
Corded stick vacuums should last longer because they have no batteries. Using our figure above for the average number of years any vacuum should last, this type should last for about eight years.
The New Zealand report said that, on average, corded vacuums lasted nearly 5 years.
This type of vacuum can also be either corded or cordless. And as we’ve said, there is data available for cordless vacuums — but this isn’t specific to handheld vacuum cleaners.
And we know that handheld vacuums are designed for quick clean-ups. So logically, they’re used less than other types – you wouldn’t use one to clean your whole house. This means that their average lifespan will be affected by them being used less.
However, they’re usually not made to the same high standards as traditional vacuum cleaners because of their intended purpose. So they tend to be more fragile and lightweight.
So, if we base our estimates on the reports discussed above, we can say that a cordless handheld vacuum may last for around 4 to 7 years. And a corded handheld vacuum should last for about 8 years.
- For example, in 2011 CESA gives canister vacuum cleaners a range of 6 to 9 years. Other studies (DEFRA 2011, Kobayashi et al. (2005) and Rose (2000)) range from 5 to 7 years. And some consumer websites suggest that they can last for 12 years.
- The European Commission report from 2009 states that a domestic canister vacuum has a lifetime of around 8 years.
Another critical factor influencing vacuum cleaners’ lifespan is the components.
Most of the issues you’ll encounter with your vacuum cleaner will be due to one element or another malfunctioning or breaking. And these issues are more likely the more you use your vacuum.
Plus, today, vacuum cleaners all rely on either electricity or battery power to work. With this in mind, the most common problems you’ll face will be related to suction power, power cable, agitator brush, the belt, and canister case or the hose.
According to another European Commission report of 2006, most vacuum cleaners’ motors rely on carbon brushes, which supply electric power to a rotating armature. And it’s these carbon brushes that often cause the motor to fail. They wear down with use and last for around 500 hours or 10 years of operating.
Plus, the New Zealand survey says that corded vacuums last on average for 5.6 years before the motor cut out.
But, a new type of motor is being used more often now. These don’t have the carbon brushes. Instead, there’s a magnetic rotor that runs without the need for physical contact.
The European 2019 survey predicts that these brushless motors will last for 3,000 to 4,000 hours of usage. This could equate to a lifetime of 60 to 80 years! And this is more than twice as long as the economic life of a standard product – the point when the vast majority of consumers would get rid of their vacuum for another reason such as parts breaking.
Therefore, a vacuum’s motor lasts longer than the average vacuum cleaner does itself.
The 2019 study from the European Commission put split hoses just above broken motors in the most common faults. They account for 13.7% of all problems encountered in an upright vacuum.
Spare parts are readily available and replacing a hose is straightforward. Plus, hoses usually break at the point where they’re attached to a fixed part — never in the middle. So this can be the metal tube attachment or where they’re connected to the casing.
The European 2019 review also states that the lifetime test used by EU regulations for the hose is 40,000 oscillations or flexes. And it’s difficult to relate this figure to a number of years of usage.
But the New Zealand study from 2020 observes that corded vacuums would last for around 5 years before the hose broke.
So if you opt for a cordless vacuum, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to replace the battery at some point.
The 2019 European review says that most batteries for vacuum cleaners are either Ni-MH or Li-ion. The Ni-MH will last for around 400 charges. But it also has a memory effect that can reduce long-term capacity. On the other hand, the Li-ion will last for at least 1,000 charges and has no memory effect.
So in real terms, the Ni-MH battery would last for around 2 years if recharged 5 times a week. The Li-ion would last for at least 4 years.
And the earlier 2006 European report suggests that battery-operated vacuum cleaners would last for about 5 years. The New Zealand study said that they’d last on average for 2.3 years.
Finally, feedback from consumers with cordless vacuums indicates that an average lifespan of around 4 to 7 years is not uncommon. And this is without replacing the battery. If you buy a new battery, your vacuum cleaner could last even longer.
The European Commission’s 2019 review concludes that a brush not working properly accounts for 12% of all faults on upright vacuum cleaners. And this is 10.8% for canister vacuums.
The 2020 New Zealand report proposes that corded vacuums last for around 4.2 years before the cleaning head breaks. And this is 2.1 years for cordless vacuum cleaners.
Plus, you need to replace them regularly – say around every 2 years – for your vacuum to perform well. And avoid damaging the belt. Generally speaking, parts are readily available and replacing brushes is easy.
But the earlier report published in 2009 says that replacing a vacuum belt is unlikely during its lifespan (assuming that this is as short as around 4 to 5 years).
Normally, if the belt of cheaper vacuum cleaners breaks at this point, the appliance is thrown away. However, you could easily replace it since you can source belts from some spares outlets. But this is not a replacement part that is freely available. And for many, if there’s a delay in having to send off and receive a new part, they may just buy a new vacuum cleaner instead.
The New Zealand report from 2020 states that a fault with the power cord retraction occurs on average after 4.7 years. This is just slightly shorter than the average lifespan of corded vacuums which is 4.8 years.
The 2020 survey from New Zealand observed that the case of a canister vacuum cracked on average after about 4 years. This is only second behind suction power decreasing in terms of the faults that took the shortest amount of time to occur.
Now let’s look at the most reliable brands to see how they compare in relation to the lifespan of a vacuum cleaner.
But a recent Consumerreport 2021 study looked at more than 104,000 vacuums. And it found that Shark vacuums scored really well in brand reliability. They received an excellent rating for owner satisfaction for upright vacuums as well as corded and cordless stick vacuums (4).
Plus your Shark vacuum also comes with a warranty of up to 7 years. So the brand must be sure that their products will last a long time.
But we can’t give an exact figure for the average lifespan of a Shark vacuum. This will depend on how often you use it. But if you look after it well, and take the report ratings into account, you can expect your Shark vacuum to last for several years.
- This is 5.4 years for a Dyson corded vacuum cleaner.
- And 2.2 years for a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner.
But this is how long it takes for a significant problem to happen. In detail, the report says that “a fault is serious if you told us it either forced you to change how you use your vacuum, or rendered it unusable”. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Dyson vacuum is ready for the trash.
With the above figures in mind, it’s difficult to say how long Dyson vacuum cleaners will last. But we know for sure that their warranty lasts for 2 years. And the report suggests that for cordless Dyson vacuums, a serious fault can occur just after this expires. Which is really deceptive for this popular brand.
Plus, Consumerreports said in 2019 that they were no longer going to recommend Dyson stick vacuums due to reliability issues. They had found that nearly half of these Dyson vacuums developed problems or broke within the first 5 years of use (5).
And this was at a higher rate than other brands! For example, around a quarter of Shark vacuums of this type would break or suffer a fault within the same time period.
On the other hand, a recent member survey from Which.co.uk gave good figures for how long a Dyson vacuum can last. They suggest that a corded vacuum cleaner could last for around 20 years. And a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner could last for about 10 years (6).
This puts Miele vacuums in the third position on the report’s list and just behind Dyson vacuums, which is good. But, this figure is still some way under the 8 years median lifetime for all vacuum cleaners that we’ve discussed above.
So surprisingly, Electrolux cordless vacuum cleaners last longer than Dyson cordless models.
A comment on the New Zealand report from a user also suggests that a Kirby vacuum cleaner has a long lifespan. They say that their vacuum had been bought in 1990 and was still going strong in 2021!
Therefore, it seems as though Kirby is a reliable vacuum brand.
However, we’ve spent a lot of time looking at customer reviews. And lots of users have said that they don’t last that long. Some have complained that their Bissell vacuum cleaner didn’t even last a year!
And this is confirmed by Consumerreports. The recent 2021 study gives Bissell corded stick vacuum cleaners a moderate rating of Good for owner satisfaction. And the review also suggests that users reported lots of suction problems. But Bissell did get an Excellent rating for brand reliability. So these results were a little mixed.
It seems overall, then, that Bissell doesn’t last as long as other brands. So their vacuums probably won’t last for the 8 years median.
Repair and Warranty
We’ve seen that the type of vacuum cleaner, the component parts, and the brand can all impact a vacuum cleaner’s lifespan. But any repairs that are needed, plus the warranty offered can also affect how long vacuums last.
A 2005 European report suggests that around 50% of vacuums have some sort of repair during the average lifetime of 8 years. But a 2009 Which.co.uk’ survey claims that this figure is lower. This review says that around 10 to 20% of vacuum cleaners need a repair in the first 6 years of usage.
Additionally, how long a warranty lasts is a good indication to customers of how long the vacuum cleaner will last. Consumers connect the length of the warranty with the reliability of the appliance as evaluated by the manufacturers themselves.
And of course, different brands offer different terms and cover different components. For example, you might get a warranty of 7 to 10 years on the motor or canister case. But the brushes, hose, or battery might only have a warranty for around 2 to 5 years.
Let’s look at some commonly asked questions about the lifespan of a vacuum cleaner.
When Should You Replace Your Vacuum Cleaner?
So, this will be when the suction motor stops working. Or if you have one, when the agitation device has stopped operating. And since you can’t replace or repair either of these components, the only option is to replace your vacuum.
Is It Worth Fixing A Vacuum Cleaner?
But under certain conditions:
- If the part or component can be repaired.
- And if the cost of the repair is reasonable.
Plus, a report from the Benelux Directive in 2018 states that due to the reparations of a vacuum cleaner – i.e. what you’ll get back from it in terms of more usage – the lifetime of a canister vacuum is extended from about 8.8 to 13.4 years after it’s repaired. So repairs are worthwhile for canister vacuums.
And the goods is that you can easily source replaceable parts for several components. This includes the hose, cleaning head, and brushes. So unless your vacuum is towards the end of its expected life expectancy, don’t be reluctant to repair these parts.
However, as explained, replacing a motor can be very expensive, not impossible
How Can You Expand The Lifespan Of Your Vacuum Cleaner?
So in short:
- Filters and dust bags should be replaced regularly. Most filters need to be replaced every 6 months to a year. Washable and reusable filters may last longer. But they will need consistent cleaning to make sure they don’t get clogged. Some manufacturers suggest that they should be washed every month.
- Regularly maintaining the vacuum brushes will also make it last longer — say every month. Plus, cleaning the brushes can avoid damage to the roller belt in upright vacuums.
- And you should also check that the hose isn’t clogged up. This can cause the motor to overheat – a fault that might not be so easy to repair.