Upright or Canister Vacuum



  One of the most common  questions that we get asked is "what kind of vacuum do you suggest?" Some ask “canister or upright?”  This seemingly easy question requires a few questions from us.  What kind of flooring? How much carpet versus hard floor? How large a house? Do you have pets?  Most people have a idea of what they like or have used in the past, but the ads usually confuse them.  Also both uprights and canisters come in two different types. Canisters come as a "suction only" machine as well as with a powered nozzle with brushroll. Uprights will be found with carpet only use or with a mechanism that can turn off the brushroll for bare floors. We have found that most of the younger people gravitate towards uprights instead of a canister. Many say they remember their parents or grandparents having a canister. Marketing may have a lot to do with this. Here's how we answer.

What kind of flooring?

  If the home has only hardwood or bare floors, a small "suction only" canister vacuum usually is the best.   Bare floors do not usually need to be cleaned with a motorized brushroll, so using a basic floor brush or an air driven turbo nozzle with bristles will usually do the job. If an upright is desired, then you will have to find one with the ability to turn off the brushroll. But even that will not always work well. With the brush spinning, the machine will usually kick dirt all over the place, or back into the users feet. A simple stick vacuum may work if the hard surface area is not too large.

  If carpets stretch from wall to wall throughout the home (save a spot of wood or tile), then look towards an upright vacuum.  Dust, dirt, and sand (especially here in Florida) settle to the fibers’ base and slowly scratch and shred away causing the carpet to fray and rip.  The motorized agitator (commonly known as a brushroll) job is not to only scoop debris off the carpet but to vibrate the debris embedded deep at the carpet’s pile allowing the suction of air to pick up the dirt, extending the life of the carpet for many years. A "direct-air" machine will usually do a better job here.

Most people in our area have a mix of surfaces such as hardwood and carpeting making the choice slightly more difficult.  Many vacuum specialists recommend an all-in-one canister with a motorized brushroll as the nozzles can be removed and changed from the power head to a hardwood floor brush. But if a upright machine is the customers choice, then you will usually have to compromise. Finding an upright that does bare floors well is a bit of a challenge. What we have found that what works best is a machine that has a rubber squeegee in behind the brushroll area. This serves two purposes - it keeps dirt from being cast backwards and helps to form a light suction seal that picks up the dirt better. These type of machines are not found very often.

How many levels and how large a vacuum area?

  How heavy the vacuum feels is a concern to many. Most standard uprights will weigh on average 15 to 17 lbs. Owners with single floor homes may not mind weight so much as they are not having to carry a heavy vac up the stairs. Some will have two vacuums, one for each level. Many times the bedrooms upstairs will be carpeted and lower level hard floor. Two vacs are perfect for this scenario. Uprights are a little difficult to do stairs with, even though some with tools for stairs that attach to the hose/wand.. Canisters also (usually) come with a tool meant for cleaning stairs, however, Lightweight upright vacuums also work well in multi-floor homes and have become a recent trend. In general, if you have a small apartment or home, you may be able to get away with a lightweight vacuum or stick vac. But for larger homes you should invest in a full size machine.

After all is said and done?

  What’s your preference?  Customers will usually like one of the styles better that the other.  As a store owner, I can tell a customer all day about how one style suits their home over the other, however, when it comes down to it, the customer’s comfort determines which vacuum works best for them. Many companies have begun making uprights with a brushroll on and off switch to transition between carpet and bare floors to provide an alternative to home owners. Some do not enjoy pulling the canister along behind them; some enjoy the sometimes lightweight design of canisters. Some like canisters because they can get under most furniture and are light in the hand. Many uprights may clean carpet better. There is usually a compromise with one machine. We have said here for many years that a two vacuum system is the best. Call us or come in to find out why. We will show you the best machine for you. One that will do what you want it to do, fit within your budget and last you the longest.


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