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Vacuum Cleaner Belt FAQ

Vacuum Cleaner Belt FAQ by KwikiVac

Most vacuum cleaners use belts to drive the brush roll. One end of the belt is wrapped around the brush roll while the other end is usually wrapped around a shaft protruding from the end of an electric motor. The brush roll and belt are typically located in the bottom section of upright vacuums while in canister vacuums they are located inside the power nozzle. In addition, some hand-held turbobrushes have brush roll belts.

What are belts made of?

Belts are made of rubber. Most are round or flat bands of solid rubber but some are reinforced with cloth to increase their strength and longevity, much like automobile tires are 'belted'. An example of a reinforced belt is the Hoover 034 belt which is used to drive the brush roll in self-propelled WindTunnel vacuum cleaners.

Types of Belts

There are three primary types of belts. Standard belts have a smooth, flat surface on their inside. This type is used in most vacuum cleaners. They are usually inexpensive and easy to acquire but tend to wear out or break quickly.

Knurled belts have a cross-hatch pattern etched into their inner surface to improve their grip on the motor shaft and brush roll. An example of a knurled belt is the one used on later model Kirby vacuum cleaners.

Finally, geared belts are those with small 'teeth' on their contact side to engage special gears on the motor and brush roll. Geared belts eliminate slippage of the belt and thus provide better brush roll performance over their life span. Most of the power nozzles used with canister vacuum cleaners are equipped with geared belts.

What happens as a belt ages?

As a belt ages it stretches, and as it stretches, its ability to spin the brush roll is impaired, particularly on plush carpets or when the carpet height adjuster on the vacuum cleaner is set too low. When the brush roll is unable to spin freely, the vacuum cleaner motor continues to spin inside its end of the belt. This results in worn or burnt spots on the belt that eventually cause it to fail.

How do I know when to replace the belt?

We recommend replacing the belt on your vacuum cleaner or power nozzle every 6 to 12 months. If you prefer to use a more scientific approach, here's how. Unplug your vacuum cleaner and open the belt compartment. Slowly turn the brush roll by hand until the belt has completed one full revolution. If you detect any of the following, replace the belt.
  • Cuts, nicks, splits or other tears
  • Frayed sections or missing teeth
  • Excessive stretch. A fingertip firmly pressed on the belt's longest unsupported run should result in 1/4 inch or less deflection

What happens if I do not replace the belt?

At best, the belt will last a few more weeks or months before it eventually breaks. Meanwhile, the cleaning efficienty of your vacuum cleaner is reduced because the brush roll is not spinning as forcefully as it should.

At worst, the belt may leave rubber deposits on the motor shaft and brush roll. It may shred and end up wrapped around various internal parts of the vacuum cleaner, requiring more extensive repairs. In some cases, the belt may spark and smoke or even catch fire.

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